Clubhouse Session Lauds Iran Election Boycott – Voters ‘Complicit in Murder’
Expatriate Iranian dissidents as well as some activists inside Iran in a session on the Clubhouse social-media application Friday entitled "No To the Islamic Republic" urged Iranians to boycott the June 18 presidential elections. The session was broadcast live by Iran International TV and other Persian-language media outside Iran.
Exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, who said in March he no longer wants to be shah, told the session that a boycott would send a message to Iran’s “regime” and the “international community” that Iranians do not support the Islamic Republic, which considers a high turnout a form of democratic endorsement.
Many analysts expect turnout in the June 18 elections to be the lowest in the past four decades. Fifty-nine million Iranians are eligible to vote with 1.5 million first-time voters. In the last two presidential elections, in 2013 and 2017 over 72 percent voted.
"This time we should look to the future with open eyes," said Prince Reza, who says he supports a "democratic and secular" government and in early March backed a social media campaign with Persian hashtag “No To the Islamic Republic.” The campaign is tied to the June elections and also uses the hashtag "No to Voting."
"The 85 million people of Iran will live in misery until the Islamic Republic is gone,” Fatemeh Sepehri, one of 14 civil and women's rights activists who wrote a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2019 calling for his resignation, told the Clubhouse session. “We have all been taken hostage.” Sepehri who lives in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province, was jailed for nine months for writing the letter and other activities.
Imprisoned activist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad sent a message to the session from jail that anyone who voted was “complicit in the murderous acts of the likes of Khalkhali,” a reference to Sadegh Khalkhali, a judge in the 1980s who passed many summary death sentences, especially against members of the Shah’s regime, including the head of its secret police Savak and former prime minister Abbas Hoveyda, and against Kurds.
Nourizad has been in and out of prison several times in the past ten years after he began criticizing Khamenei. United Nations human rights experts in early May expressed concern over Nourizad and his health, calling his case emblematic of the situation faced by many Iranian political activists in detention.
In another, four-hour-long Clubhouse session on Friday entitled "Talking To Faezeh Hashemi On Elections," the daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told the audience that the closer the election came, the more it became evident it was being "engineered" to favor Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), the chief justice.
Iran International asked Hashemi if the regime was seeking to revert to the methods of 1980s such as the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, mainly members of the Mujahideen-e Khalq and leftists, in which Raeesi played a role as Tehran deputy prosecutor. "I don't think so,” she replied. “A state of revolutionary [atmosphere] of that kind doesn't exist.”