MEK: Iranian Social Media Campaign
Iranians took part in a social media campaign on Sunday, using the hashtag #BoycottIranShamElections. During the first day of a movement calling for a boycott of Iran’s fraudulent presidential election, the hashtag generated tens of thousands of engagements.
Boycott of the regime’s sham elections
The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), Iran’s most powerful opposition organization, has been pushing for a boycott of the regime’s sham elections for years. This year, the MEK’s internal network, known as the Resistance Units, has led the campaign to boycott the upcoming elections.
The resistance groups had been broadcasting footage of their acts in order to promote a nationwide boycott. Resistance leaders’ posters were displayed on highway signs and local walls. Graffities from the resistance calling for a boycott of elections were seen on the walls.
Iranian regime’s Guardian Council
Last Monday, the Iranian regime’s Guardian Council revealed the final list of presidential candidates, which included just Ebrahim Raisi, the current head of the judiciary, and six other individuals out of approximately 600 who registered with the Interior Ministry.
In order to pave the way for Raisi, the Guardian Council vetted the candidacies of high-profile politicians such as former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, whose demonstrated commitment to the supreme leader would have guaranteed him a spot on the ballot.
Economic collapse, international isolation
On Wednesday, NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mohammad Mohaddessin described his situation as an attempt by Khamenei to consolidate power in the face of unprecedented challenges posed by economic collapse, international isolation, and escalating social unrest, as exemplified by three nationwide uprisings over the previous three years.
The uprising in November 2019
The first of these uprisings forced Khamenei and others to admit something they had long denied: that resistance to the theocratic regime is well-organized and broad and that it frequently manifests itself in support for the NCRI and the PMOI/MEK. Khamenei officially declared in January 2018 that the MEK had “planned for months” to help promote anti-government rallies that were taking place in over 100 cities and towns at the time. Fears of MEK influence prompted authorities to lash down hard on a second, greater uprising in November 2019. In just a few days, about 1,500 peaceful demonstrators were killed.
MEK’s Resistance Units
Throughout that time, the MEK and NCRI have sponsored similar boycotts, but last year’s success was undoubtedly aided by the social impacts of previous uprisings as well as the broad actions of the MEK’s Resistance Units.
Virtual calls for an electoral boycott
As virtual calls for an electoral boycott gather traction, the Iranian authorities’ concerns about the role of social media and the internet in political organizations are expected to grow.
MEK supporters posted messages and held demonstrations in at least 250 cities around Iran in April, asking Iranians to “vote for regime change.” Several citizen groups endorsed the electoral boycott movement in May as part of their own rallies for economic and social justice.
“The nationwide call for a boycott of the sham election has gained momentum, and people are openly calling for the regime’s overthrow,” Mohammad Mohaddessin stated at a press conference held by the NCRI on Wednesday.