Political activist Abolfazl Ghadiani

Ex-Revolutionary Urges Election Boycott, Declares Clerical Rule Beyond Repair

Sunday, 06/16/2024

Former political prisoner Abolfazl Ghadiani has condemned proponents of reforming Iran's clerical establishment, insisting it is beyond redemption and fervently promoting an election boycott as a bold act of civil resistance.

In his analysis on the Zeitun website on Friday, Ghadiani, once an ally turned vocal adversary of Iran’s Supreme Leader, branded him a "power-loving dictator," casting his reign as a "tyrannical rule, scarred by the atrocities of the fall of 2022 and the scandalous parliamentary elections of March."

In 2022, nationwide protests, ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody and dubbed the Woman Life Freedom movement, resulted in security forces killing over 550 civilians followed by harsh crackdowns. Women and minorities endure relentless persecution, with executions surging to unprecedented levels.

Ghadiani emphasized that President Ebrahim Raisi's "unexpected" death presents a prime chance for opportunists to exploit the electoral vacuum.

The death of Raisi and his delegation, including the foreign minister, in a helicopter crash last month has precipitated a snap election slated for June 28.

Ghadiani asserted that "participation in these controlled elections won't bring any real change," underscoring that "the inefficiency of Ebrahim Raisi's government, coupled with economic and social crises, international political shifts, and the potential resurgence of the women's rights movement, has compelled Khamenei to pursue" another sham election with the hope of preventing a further decline in the regime's legitimacy.

The outspoken critic posited that these "sham elections" serve to cement the clerical establishment's grip on power and acquire international validation, potentially ushering in a semi-reformist government in a bid to reclaim lost legitimacy.

Reflecting on previous elections, Ghadiani lamented how the “ruling dictator” has "ratcheted up his purification agenda with each passing day," orchestrating elections devoid of competition and marred by predictability in the manipulated outcomes.

In recent years, Iran has seen a decline in voter turnout during parliamentary and presidential elections. Many attribute this trend to segments of the electorate losing faith in elections to address their worsening economic conditions. As a result, there's speculation that these disillusioned voters could potentially sway in favor of a 'reformist' candidate seeking change amidst challenging times.

The only pro-'reform’ candidate among the six hand-picked by the un-elected 12-member Guardian council is Massoud Pezeshkian.

“Even if the name of Massoud Pezeshkian were to emerge triumphantly from the ballot boxes and he, against all odds, earnestly endeavors to revolutionize our nation's governance, shadowy forces will swiftly sabotage such aspirations," Ghadiani wrote.

Ghadiani stated, "No government or parliament in this corrupt authoritarian structure possesses the capacity to impede the epidemic's march."

The activist implored all "democratic forces" to shun the elections and encouraged "political, civil, trade union, and cultural activists" to "seize every opportunity to denounce these sham elections."

Before the March parliamentary elections, Ghadiani issued a similar rebuke, decrying it as "staged, scripted, and engineered."

Ghadiani, 80, has been one of the most vocal and staunch opponents of Iran’s Supreme Leader over the past years. He belonged to a leftist, revolutionary group that was supporting the Islamic Republic and Khamenei until the disputed presidential election of 2009, when the Supreme Leader backed the questionable re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ghadiani, with many others, protested the results and was jailed to become an opposition figure.

Receiving a 10-month jail sentence in July 2023, he said he is ready to go to prison “in Ali Khamenei’s dictatorial regime.” However, he refused to attend the court session and the authorities have refrained from implementing the verdict.

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