Iranians are showing up to the polls in huge numbers. No one seems to be able to call this election. Ahmadinejad loses, or Ahmadinejad wins? The world is on pins and needles because we assume if Ahmadinejad loses, the world will be better, but is that really true? Can he be replaced with someone as evil or worse? Is this election the road to change or more of the same?
Updates are beginning to pour in – See below – including Rafsanjani’s resignation.
Breaking news is reporting that the massive turnout has led to the polling hours being extended – for the third time today – to three hours, now closing at 8 pm Iran’s time (12:30 pm EDT). Iranian youth are excited and motivated. Born after the Iranian revolution of 1979, and some now in their late twenties, they are old enough to be engaged in human rights and women’s rights (and I note that both are one and the same).
The verboten subject of human rights is being talked about, perhaps as never before, even as the country’s religious leaders attempt to tamp it down. Amnesty International reports on increased arrests in the weeks leading up to the election of those dissenting, including religious minorities and a pattern of torture and unfair trials:
At least 194 people have been executed so far this year in Iran, including five women and three juveniles convicted of crimes allegedly committed before they were 18, a practice strictly prohibited under international law.
At least 140 juveniles are known to be on death row in Iran.
At least one person has been stoned to death this year in Iran, despite a 2002 directive from the Head of the Judiciary ordering a moratorium on stonings. Amnesty International is aware of seven women and three men currently under sentence of death by stoning.
Ahmadinejad’s foremost opponent is reformist, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has brought his wife into the campaign to focus his commitment to women’s rights.
The outcome will not sharply alter Iran’s main policies or sway high-level decisions, such as possible talks with Washington. Those crucial policies are all directly controlled by the ruling clerics headed by the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But Mousavi has offered hopes of more freedoms at home. If elected, he could try to end crackdowns on liberal media and bloggers and push for Iran to embrace President Barack Obama’s offer of dialogue after a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze. He favors talks with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States and others fear is aimed at making weapons. Iran says it only seeks reactors for electricity.
The turnout may be as high as 80 percent of eligible voters, which is believed to favor Mousavi. Iranians abroad are voting – estimated that 200,000 cast their ballot at Iranian consulates. A voter in Dubai is quoted saying that Mir Hossein Mousavi “is our Obama.” Read more about Mousavi here.
The truth is that the Mullahs run Iran. The presidency is just a public face, presented at the whims of the Mullahs. Does it really matter who wins this election?
Update: 6-12-09 2:37 pm CDT: Iran has just extended their voting deadline to midnight Iranian time (3:30 pm EDT). This is the sixth extention of polling times.
Update: 6-12-09 2:00 pm CDT: Fox News reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi is claiming that he has won the presidential election in Iran. Earlier today, Ahmadinejad did the same. Fox News says it has no confirmation of the truth of Mousavi’s announcement.
Africasia.com also reports a win for Mousavi, with 65 percent of the vote
Update: 6-12-09 2:30 pm CDT: Iran’s state run media has just declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the “definite” winner. Stay tuned. This isn’t over.
Update: 6-14-09 1:03 pm CDT: While rioting has ensued and it is apparent that Ahmadinejad’s win would be upheld, I held back on the updates until there was significant information to report. Here’s the latest:
Mir Hossein Mousavi is reported to be under house arrest. This news originally from a Daily Kos informant “on the ground in Iran.” Hat tip to News Junkie.
This was his message:
Mousavi has been place under house arrest. He was arrested on his way to Khamenei’s house. All communication has been shut off. Khamenei has issued a statement claiming that HE that he is leading this coup to SAVE the Islamic Government.
LA Times on Mousavi’s arrest and rioting:
Huge swaths of the capital erupted in fiery riots that stretched into the early morning Sunday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared victory in his quest for a second four-year term amid allegations of widespread fraud and a strident challenge of the vote results by his main challenger, who was reportedly placed under house arrest.
Hat tip to News Junkie and from their site:
A tweet was posted in Mousavi’s Twitter account saying that he had been placed under house arrest by the Ministry of Intelligence. This is the tweet.
There are reports that many other leaders in Mousavi’s party have also been arrested: Mosharekat, Mojahedin Enqelab and Ahmad Zaidabadi. Critics within Iran are calling this a “purge” of all reformers. It’s unclear if Ahmadinejad is behind ordering these arrests.
Continuing Civil Unrest
Fires have been set in many parts of the city. The smell of smoke has reached as far Marzdaran. Police are confiscating cameras from people to stop them from sending images outside of Iran. People are using stones to battle the riot police. The Tehranbureau is reporting that as many as 100 people have been killed on the streets of Tehran due to clashes with the police. The AP is also reporting that there are injured Iranians, but didn’t post how many.
Here is what an Iranian citizen has been reporting from the Tehranbureau:
“Here the internet is horrible. After much trouble, I was able t log on through a proxy. I’ll try my best to get the news to you. I have news right now that in Shahrake Gharb [neighborhood in northeast Tehran] is absolute chaos. People are in the streets, they’re chanting. No sign of police. Their protest continues at this hour. I also hear that Niavaran [north Tehran] is a big chaotic too — at least until an hour ago. I’m sorry my information is fragmented. I’m afraid I’ll get disconnected. In Niavaran people are shouting from their homes. That way when police comes they quickly retreat; so they haven’t been able to arrest anyone. I’ve also heard that people captured a few of the Basij guys and gave him a beating. It feels like Martial Law here. Cell phones are down, internet lines are horrible, Facebook is filtered, and … I also have news from Ahvaz. They have also announced there that if someone comes out of their house they will be arrested. So keep your fingers crossed and pray for us.”
More from the LA Times:
Tehran erupted in unrest today as results for the Iranian presidential election pitting incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against leading reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi and two other rivals were announced. Ahmadinejad won big amid record turnout and allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Enraged Mousavi supporters battled police for hours, and it remained unclear whether the unrest would stop anytime soon.
Update: 6-14-09 1:15 pm CDT:
DailyKos reporting on the resignation of Rafsanjani’s resignation in protest to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s endorsement of Ahmadinejad’s election win.