Why boycotting Iran’s presidential election is an act of integrity
In reality, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will decide Iran's presidential election. That is why actively boycotting this election would be an act to regain dignity as well as be a mass, nonviolent uprising that could end a regime that prolongs its existence by moving Iran from crisis to crisis.
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In effect, therefore, it is not only that people’s participation in such an election would be irrelevant, but that all votes would be votes for a regime which perceives and treats people as duty-bound minors. People are being invited to vote and ratify their non-citizenship. This is why actively boycotting this election is an act of regaining dignity and integrity as well as an act of mass, nonviolent uprising that could bring an end to a regime that prolongs its existence by systematically moving the country from one crisis to another.Skip to next paragraph
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Ironically, it is this sense of crisis that is causing some to resist a boycott and to take their chances that one of the candidates might actually be able to reform the system from within. History tells us that Iranians will not move against dictatorship as long as there is a threat of foreign military intervention or sanctions in the country’s affairs. We saw this during the 1979 revolution, when US President Jimmy Carter’s election assured Iranians that the country would not be invaded in response to political movement, and again when Obama’s election gave the emerging Iranian "green movement" confidence that the US was moving away from the jingoistic policies of President George W. Bush and at the time seemed to ease its military threats.
Today, many Iranians are fearful of internal political forces which have lent their services to foreign governments that have an interest in Iran’s disintegration. The current disastrous instability in the region has only increased this sensitivity.
The absence of even the threat of foreign intervention is therefore a necessary condition of large-scale mobilization to remove the present regime. If the United States and other foreign governments are sincere in their desire to neutralize the power of the mafia regime in Iran, they need to remove all threat of military action against Iran. They must also lift the backbreaking economic sanctions currently imposed on the country, which not only harm ordinary people and weaken civil society but provide immense opportunities for the military-financial mafia, and primarily the Revolutionary Guards, to siphon off national wealth through corruption. The US government does not want to reduce either the threats or the sanctions because it also benefits from the crisis that is created.
But if the US government is genuine in its stated desire to see a democratic Iran, it must stop cooperating with the Iranian regime in this way. The rest will be the task of Iranians, who are more than capable of bringing the reign of the corrupt theocracy to an end and of establishing home-grown democracy in an independent and free Iran. In a region swamped with violence, the peace-making repercussions of this movement will be beyond calculation.
Abolhassan Bani-Sadr was the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He now lives in exile outside Paris.