Last Sunday (October 23), Hassan Rouhani during his lecture in the city of Arak sardonically referred to the process of U.S. presidential election, saying, “The U.S. claims to have had more than 200 years of democracy and more than 50 presidential elections, yet there is no morality in this country. We can see what is happening there. You saw the presidential debate; everyone saw the way they talked to each other.” Rouhani added, “In the U.N., one of the leaders of countries asked me: which one of the two (Trump and Clinton) is better? I said, Should I prefer bad to worse or worse to bad? We don’t want such a democracy and such an election in our country; we’re proud of “Islam”; Islam is the religion whose prophet said: “Truly, I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.”
Rouhani’s words are thought-provoking, and even more than that, deplorable and disappointing, especially now that there are only seven months left to the next year’s presidential election in Iran.
Rouhani taunts the process of U.S. presidential elections and questions the standards of democracy in America, while only a glance at the process of presidential elections in the “Islamic Republic” shows the egregious and unpleasant gap between elections in the two countries.
Rouhani talks about the choice between “bad and worse” in the U.S. election, but does not mention that Iranian citizens have to inevitably participate in two-round elections which are filtered by “approbatory supervision” of the Guardian Council where six jurists, appointed by the “Islamic Republic’s” Supreme Leader, and six jurists, approved by the establishment, qualify or disqualify candidates based on their political and ideological standards as well as reports from security institutions.
Rouhani has even forgotten that the two candidates who objected to the results of Iran’s presidential elections in 2009 have been under house arrest and illegal restrictions for more than 2081 days. Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard have been in detention without a court sentence since 69 months ago for demanding the realization of their own and other Iranians’ basic rights.
Rouhani has also forgotten tens of citizens who were victimized innocently after 2009 presidential elections just for asking: “where is my vote?” He is ignoring thousands of citizens who were suppressed, summoned, arrested and harmed. Moreover, Rouhani fails to remember the constant, blatant violation of freedom of speech, opinion, and press in Iran – an issue that is tied to the concept of “free, healthy and fair election.”
Can all political and religious organizations, as well as all parties, introduce their candidates equally in Iran’s elections? Can they all enjoy equal and fair conditions and opportunities to participate in elections?
Is it possible for public and nongovernmental institutions and organizations as well as representatives of political factions to impartially supervise and review the process of elections in Iran?
Is voting done without any fraud or intimidation or illegal measures? Is vote counting done under the impartial supervision and review of representatives from all factions, organizations, and candidates?
Is there an independent, just and impartial judiciary to which those who object or have a complaint against the process of elections can refer to demand justice?
Is there a higher, independent and public institution to supervise the process of elections?
Iran’s moderate president knows well that the answer to all the aforementioned questions and other similar questions is negative. In July 2015, with regard to the Guardian Council’s political-ideological interference through “approbatory supervision,” Rouhani himself criticized the Council for its extra-judicial interference.
However, Rouhani — who is now certain enough about the continuation of his administration and is over-confidant — criticizes “democracy and elections in the U.S.” several months before the 2017 presidential elections in Iran.
Rouhani talks about observing “morality” in Iran’s elections, while citizens’ basic, constitutional rights as well as the standards of free, healthy and fair elections are constantly violated in Iran. The continuation of Mousavi, Karroubi and Rahnavard’s house arrest is just one significant example of immorality in the “Islamic Republic”.
Other examples of this immorality include the execution of 20 Kurdish and Sunni prisoners of conscience as well as the issuance of 16-year-imprisonment sentence for a human rights activist (Narges Mohammadi). It also includes suppressive confrontations by security and judicial institutions to expand and deepen political obstruction and intimidate civil and political activists.
Of course, this does not mean that the U.S. elections are held without any faults or problems. Iranian President’s delusional taunts and critical remarks about democracy in America only look like a joke. Especially, now that Rouhani has not been able to take a practical step towards holding free, healthy and fair elections in Iran.
Reporting news and publishing images of Mohammad Khatami is still forbidden in Iranian media; Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojahedin of the “Islamic Revolution” Organization are still deprived of doing organizational activities; Freedom Movement of Iran and Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran are not allowed to do group activities; Association of Iranian Journalists has not been reopened yet, despite Rouhani’s promises; trade union and media activists are constantly subject to summons, threat, and arrest; Iran’s National Front, Writers Association, and other opposition organizations cannot hold public meetings and have assemblies, etc.
And all the aforementioned is not only due to the measures of revolutionary courts and IRGC intelligence arm but is also partly an outcome of the suppressive confrontation by Intelligence Ministry in Rouhani’s moderate administration.
Given such a background where standards of a free, healthy and fair election are subject to persistent threat and restriction, criticizing democracy and elections in the U.S. is merely rooted in over-confidence and delusion that has apparently been transmitted from the “Islamic Republic” Supreme Leader to Rouhani.
If only the moderate president, instead of taunting the U.S. elections, would take affirmative, positive, operational steps to secure freedom, health and fairness of the upcoming presidential and councils elections in the next few months!
Translated Material: Zaietoun Website
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS