Iran Election Update: Reformist Candidate’s Headquarters Seized and Locked
Partial Vote Count Declaring Ahmadinejad Win Amidst Allegations of Widespread Fraud “Gross violation of the right to a free and fair election”
(13 June 2009) [As of 7 am Tehran time] After a disputed election, the offices of two reformist candidates, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi were seized and locked by intelligence and security forces. As the Interior Ministry is declaring Ahmadinejad as the victor, the security apparatus loyal to him have taken to the streets in an overwhelming show of force.
According to unconfirmed reports, Mir Hossein Moussavi may have been detained by intelligence agents as he traveled to the Supreme Leader’s residence to meet with him.
By all indications, the government of Ahmadinejad, which is in charge of conducting the elections and counting votes, is using a combination of intimidation and military might to prevent any challenges to announced results of the election.
“It appears that a coup has taken place in Iran overnight to force the results on other parties. These elections cannot be considered fair by any measure under such circumstances,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Moussavi’s official website, www.ghalamnews.ir, reported that when his supporters gathered around his headquarters to celebrate what they believed was his victory based on reports of his representatives at polling stations, police forces confronted them using pepper spray and violently dispersed them. Moussavi’s headquarters have been since shut, similar to Karroubi’s headquarters.
At 11 PM Tehran time, Moussavi told a press conference, “I am the absolute winner of the election by a very wide margin. It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back.”
However, since then the situation seems to have drastically shifted in favor of Ahmadinejad, with continuous announcements of his wide margin of victory. According to reports from Tehran, heavy armed agents, many in plainclothes, have taken control of major intersections.
As of this writing, crowds of Ahmadinejad’s supporters are reportedly already celebrating his victory in the streets.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed its serious concerns about the vote counting process and the intimidation of candidates to accept results of government counts without any challenge. The Campaign is also seriously concerned about the safety of Moussavi and Karroubi and their top advisors, as well as the possibility of violence against any protestors who may publicly challenge the government.
“The Iranian people, throughout this entire election process, believed that through peaceful and legal means significant change could be achieved and they participated enthusiastically, but their right to a free and fair election has been grossly violated,” Ghaemi said.