News Release

Iran’s Presidential Election

Voters in Iran will cast ballots for a new president on Friday (June 17), choosing from a field of eight candidates that includes hardline clerics and reformers. The following analysts are available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON
Currently in Tehran, Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. Solomon has been interviewing a range of Iranians, including government officials, campaign activists, clerics, merchants and students. He said today: “Washington keeps condemning Iran’s government and making thinly veiled threats. But in Iran, many people are in the midst of challenging the country’s rulers, in the streets and at the ballot box. The June 17 election for president could be a turning point or a hollow spectacle — no one knows which — but the Bush administration is eagerly trashing the whole thing. ‘The United States has not waited for the first ballot to be cast before dismissing Iran’s presidential election as rigged,’ Agence France Presse reported over the weekend.

“But Iran’s election is not rigged. There is a fierce electioneering battle underway here, with some significant differences between candidates. Meanwhile, hindered rather than helped by the bellicose statements from Washington, courageous Iranian activists have begun a new wave of actions against the status quo of theocracy.”
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SIMIN ROYANIAN
Hundreds of Iranians demonstrated for women’s rights at a June 12 protest in Tehran. Co-founder of Women for Peace and Justice in Iran, Royanian said today: “The women’s protests are important and authentic. These protests are not unprecedented as some are claiming. There have been protests in Iran every International Women’s Day for the last several years. It should be noted that while there is a lot to be achieved in Iran regarding women’s rights, such observance of International Women’s Day were totally banned under the Shah. Women’s activities in civil society and in opening the debate on women’s rights have been consistently increasing. The recent demonstrations by women are indicative of the active participation of women in the political process of the campaign. It should be pointed out that women of various Islamic factions are involved in the demand for expanded rights for women in Iran.

“Regarding the recent bombings: Iran has not seen such activity since the earlier years after the revolution. Since the end of the war with Iraq, all political opposition to the government has been nonviolent.”

STEPHEN ZUNES
A professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who specializes in U.S. Middle East policy and human rights, Zunes said today: “Despite the very real restrictions on the electoral process imposed by the country’s ruling clerics, the fact remains that there is far more political pluralism today in Iran than there is in most countries of the region, including some of the U.S.’s allies. Until the Bush administration stops providing financial, military and diplomatic support for the autocratic rulers of Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, the Gulf emirates, and other repressive regimes, its calls for greater democracy in Iran cannot be taken seriously.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167