A dissident activist in Tehran told Breitbart News in an interview Monday that a mass boycott of Iran’s upcoming presidential election is critical to show the world that the Iranian people reject “more repression and terrorism at any cost” at the hands of the Supreme Leader-approved candidates.
Iran is an Islamist dictatorship with no meaningful civilian participation in government. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regularly holds elections for “president,” a position subservient to him, and Khamenei’s Guardian Council chooses who appears on the ballot. The Council rejected 592 candidates this year, leaving a slate of seven men all representing the “hardline” wing of Iranian politics. “Frontrunner” Ebrahim Raisi, often cited as a potential successor to Khamenei, was responsible for the execution of as many as 30,000 dissidents at former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s behest in 1988.
Iran will hold its “election” on June 18.
Hadi, an Iranian professor and activist with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), the country’s largest dissident organization, told Breitbart News that boycotting the current sham election is pivotal — perhaps moreso than past similarly fraudulent events, precisely because of the brutal nature of the candidates.
The PMOI/MEK, the domestic wing of the international National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has spearheaded an illicit campaign in the country to encourage citizens to not partake in the election and grant it undue legitimacy.
“This time around, unlike previous occasions, there [are] no prominent candidates from the regime’s ‘reformist’ faction. That means that the regime has decided to forgo its bogus campaign fervor of previous occasions in favor of consolidating power and further contraction,” Hadi explained. “From the outset, the Supreme Leader has pointed to his preferred candidate. In this regard, he refused to approve the candidacy of [Ali] Larijani as a known priciplist figure in order to prevent a reduction of the votes for Raisi.”
Ali Larijani was among the over 500 people banned from running in the election. A former Parliament speaker, Larijani developed a reputation for being on the “moderate” end of the extremist political spectrum as permitted by Khamenei, alongside current President Hassan Rouhani. In perhaps an overt display of Khamenei’s will, Iran’s presidential debates have largely featured candidates competing to see who can insult Rouhani the most. The incumbent accused the candidates of “memory loss” regarding his legacy.
Also notably absent from the list of candidates was Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, described by the state propaganda outlet PressTV as “the Reformist camp’s top presidential candidate if he had chosen to run.” Zarif displeased Khamenei after an interview leaked in April in which the former criticized late terrorist mastermind Qassem Soleimani for interfering in foreign affairs and hindering his ability to do his job. Solemani, killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, was the head of the Quds Force, the foreign terrorism unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC is both a formal wing of the Iranian military and a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
The Iranian regime, perhaps in response to the growing popularity of the boycott movement, trotted Zarif out on Monday to urge people to go out and vote.
“By using a number cover candidates and counting their votes in due course for Raisi, the Supreme Leader is attempting to get the maximum number of votes for his preferred candidate,” Hadi contended.
The professor told Breitbart News that, for the weakened and unpopular regime to survive the unrest following the 2009 presidential election, it needed to use excessive force to kill as many dissidents as possible. Reuters estimated the death toll of the protests to be about 1,500 and reported in 2019 that Khamenei personally ordered the slaughter.
“The bloody repression of the protesters of 2009 showed the regime’s intolerance even to civil demands. … The use of unprecedented violence to plunder as many poor people as possible and the lack of sufficient funds to promote terrorism and nuclear dreams in foreign relations paralyzed both factions of the regime,” Hadi told Breitbart News. “But the survival of the dictator in the midst of unprecedented internal and external pressures required acute repression at home and terrorism and blind and hasty bullying abroad.”
Hadi described Khamenei as an “ailing Supreme Leader who is on the verge of losing power,” and his hand-picked presidential candidates, he said, “only represent more repression and terrorism at any cost.”
“I declare that this murderous and anti-human regime has no legitimacy in the current world scene and equation. This regime belongs to the centuries before civilization,” Hadi continued. “The existence and continuation of this regime is a threat to world peace. … This religious fascism, like Hitler’s fascism, will only bring about global death and destruction.”
Hadi urged free nations for enact sanctions on the regime, “increase pressure on the regime’s nuclear program, and blacklist the leaders of the regime, the Revolutionary Guards and the IRGC Quds Force, the intelligence ministry, and all repressive organs.”
“They could also help by ceasing negotiations with the regime, referring its human rights violations to the UN General Assembly, and most importantly, supporting the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the MEK as the only popular alternative to the Islamic Republic,” he added. “The support of the West in the above cases so far is commendable but not enough.”