UPDATE: Exclusive photos from Iran's low-turnout election

Unprecedented low turnout and a voter boycott of Iran's sham election – with exclusive photos.

Iran's presidential elections were held on May 19 with unprecedented low turnout amid a voters' boycott.  On the ground, the polling stations were empty – see the photos below.  It is as if people are denouncing the entire façade of elections as a sham, with the results yet to be announced.  As one Tehran local put it, there is no difference between an imposter and a mass killer – which is shorthand for the two candidates in this final runoff.

Take a look at the scenes from Tehran and around the country as the voting courses through.

Sham elections are a common event in dictatorial regimes that still feel the need to establish some element of public legitimacy.  The Iranian political system is not democratic, and the 2017 elections are neither free nor fair.  In Iran, the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, stands at the apex of Iran's complex political dictatorship.  The most powerful of Iran's four major governing bodies, the supreme leader and the Council of Guardians, are not elected by the general population at all.  The power of the president is secondary to that of the supreme leader.

Today, despite the propaganda by state media for a calm election, heavy security was deployed across the country to prevent protests.  Riot police with batons and tear gas in their bags were ready to use them.  Basij militia loyal to the Khamenei gang were seen in corners of Iran's main streets and near polling stations to prevent any recurrence of the 2009 uprising.  A large number of Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Basij members, alongside motorcycling units, were dispatched to the main streets of the cities of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz to terrify voters in an atmosphere of growing popular protests.

Youths protested these sham elections anyway.  They protested in spite of a heavy IRGC and Basij presence, beginning early Thursday morning on May 18, and these brave youths were present in Isfahan, Qom, and Tabriz, with demonstrations to protest the mullahs' sham election. Here are some specifics of the protests in several cities:


In Tehran, youths staged demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in a number of areas, including the Valiasr-Taleghani intersection and Tajrish Square.  The crowd was heard chanting, "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran" and "No fear, no fear, we are all together" as they continued their protests by clashing with the regime's attacking repressive forces.  A number of the protesting youths were apprehended and taken to unknown locations.


In Enghelab (Revolution) Square and the Naghsh-e Jahan area of Isfahan, youths were heard chanting, "Free political prisoners," "Down with the police," "Raisi is a murderer" (in reference conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi), and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran."  The regime's forces resorted to tear gas and arrested a number of the youths in their attempt to disperse the crowd.


In Tabriz, the youths were seen chanting, "Raisi can't endure it, has dispatched the Bassij."


Freedom-loving youths in Qom chanted, "Murderer of 1988" in reference to Raisi and expressing their abhorrence of election façade.

Overall, voter turnout was unprecedentedly low, and most people and groups have called for a boycott of the election to protest it as a sham.  According to a National Council of Resistance of Iran report from inside:  

While state run media are boasting about the widespread participation in the sham election, people are reporting about empty polling stations, numerous reports coming out of Iranian cities all across the country like Esfahan, Saveh, Mahabad, Semnan, Sabzevar, Karaj, Roudsar, Kerman, Ghorveh, Shahre babak, Zarand, and many others are indicative of  the emptiness of polling stations, and a weak presence of voters all through the morning. In many of the voting centers, the number of security forces exceeded the voters. this is while earlier in the day, Iran regime's supreme leader was desperately asking people to vote.

Even prisoners were forced to vote in the sham election.  Following the Iranian regime's series of fraud measures and vote-riggings, prison authorities across the country are forcing inmates to the polling booths.

Peyman Khanzadeh, deputy warden of Urmia Central Prison in northwest Iran, announced through the prison loudspeakers that all inmates' participation in the elections is mandatory and that any individual refusing to cooperate will be deprived of family visits for three months.  He also pressured those inmates lacking any identification papers to call their families to bring their necessary documents to the prison.  Authorities in Diesel Abad Prison of Kermanshah, western Iran, have threatened to ban any family visits for a period of one month as punishment to those inmates refusing to vote.

On May 17, Ali Asghar Jahangir, chief of Iran's Prisons Organization, said, "Ballot boxes will be brought to prisons and inmates possessing their ID documents can place their votes" (Hamshahri daily, May 17, 2017).

NCRI reports:

Despite all these efforts by the regime, what so ever the outcome of the election, the crisis-riddled clerical regime will emerge weaker and more vulnerable in the wake of this election.

Below is the earlier report, which ran on American Thinker this morning:

Today, the mullahs in Iran will hold their 12th presidential election.  Before you hear what the mainstream media might suggest, let's remember what this is first: the election of Iran's Number Two.  The power of the president remains secondary to that of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who is an unelected head of state.

Nevertheless, the office of the president is powerful, and only the most faithful of the mullahs' loyalists ever reach it.  The presidential race is between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, seeking a second term in office, with 3,000 executions during his tenure, and Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate closest to the supreme leader, who was part of a tribunal that oversaw the execution of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988.  Raisi is also the preferred candidate of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

It's a rigged election, and the winner will be a mullah loyalist, but there is also an authentic opposition that's active.

[T]he activist network of the main Iranian opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has been running an extensive campaign calling on Iranians to boycott the elections. They are putting their lives at risk by draping large images of their leader in exile, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, from bridges and flyovers in cities across the country, amid preparations for tomorrow's presidential election, which could decide the direction of its future relationship with the West[.]

Rajavi is the Paris-based NCRI's president-elect.  She recently voiced her views about this new round of presidential elections in Iran, described by many as a game repeated by the regime every four years.

"The upcoming election sham, as it has always been the case, is just a ritual of dividing the power among the factions which make up the ruling religious tyranny. It does not enjoy any legitimacy among the people of Iran. The outcome, whatever it be, is rejected and disdained by the Iranian people and Resistance. In any case, the crisis-riddled clerical regime will emerge weaker and more vulnerable in the wake of this election," she said.

Iran's presidential election has been denounced widely by dignitaries and was panned by members of the European parliament on May 18, 2017.

More than 150 members of the European Parliament condemned the fake elections in Iran, declaring in a joint statement:

The elections in Iran are not free and fair. Opposition is banned. All candidates have to declare their heartfelt belief in the concept of supreme clerical rule. An unelected body named the 'Guardian Council', whose members are appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei disqualifies most of the candidates.

European lawmakers have expressed concern about "high number of executions in Iran," citing the "more than 3,000 people (who) have been hanged during the first term of the 'moderate' President Hassan Rouhani."  They said: "In a public speech on Iranian television, Rouhani described executions as 'a good law' and 'the law of God!' He also openly expressed full support for [Syrian president Bashar] Assad even after the chemical attack in April which killed many people, including children."

The MEPs emphasized that Rouhani's "Justice Minister was a key member of the so-called 'Death Committee' that approved the summary mass executions of over 30,000 political prisoners."  Rouhani's main rival in the elections, Ebrahim Raisi, was also himself a member of that Death Committee.  From the young age of eighteen, Raisi was a deputy prosecutor in Tehran and has always maintained top positions in the Iranian judiciary, signing orders of execution for thousands of political opponents. 

In their joint statement, the MEPs concluded: "Any further expansion of relations with Iran must be conditioned to a clear progress on human rights, women's rights and a halt to executions."

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton said in an interview with BBC:

In my point of view Iran's presidential election and the vote-counting is vulnerable to manipulation and fake votes. The election in Iran are not free and fair Khamenei is ultimate decision maker Assembly of Experts a body of religious scholars is an instrument in the hands of Khamenei to select and   qualify the candidates and in my opinion the people of Iran think that the president has been elected previously and their vote is not important[.]

So today's election is nothing but a power struggle between ferocious gangs within the system.  In any case, the crisis-riddled clerical regime will emerge weaker and more vulnerable in the wake of this election.

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