It was June 19, 2009, Sam Parr, an Iranian citizen who was born and raised in Iran, was in line to vote for the re-election between the elected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was a political reformist. As Sam was in the line, he was observing the people’s frustrated, anxious, and hopeful faces. He and his compatriots had been protesting for the past week for their freedom, and in support of the man they wanted for their president, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Sam was thinking about the people who got injured, or who had been arrested, or who had even lost their lives during these protests. That day, Sam was hopeful for his country; however, he didn’t know that the future was against him.
Now, 12 years later, as Iran holds another election, Sam Parr is less hopeful than he once was. But he is once again fearful of the violence and injuries that may occur at the protests that might take place, as well as the possibility that the government may cut off all communications with people outside of Iran.
(Editor’s note: Sam’s name and some other details of his life have been altered to protect his anonymity.)
Since the event in June 2009, Iranian people have been living through a difficult period. The country is led by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who holds the highest authority in Iran. The people have been very frustrated, especially during the pandemic, as thousands have died due to COVID. Many citizens have been fired from their jobs and the people who still have theirs do not have sufficient income. On the other hand, the price of groceries have been rising and the value of the Iranian rial has been decreasing ever since the US imposed sanctions on Iran in 2019. These factors have gradually irritated the Iranians and they are feeling hopeless for the upcoming elections.
After the protests in June 2009, also known as the “Iranian Green Movement,” there are many Iranians that fear a potential protest that may occur on election day: June 18, 2021.
Twelve years have passed and Iranian citizens have lost hope in their government.
Sam Parr, born in Tehran, capital of Iran, has been keeping up with the political news of Iran for more than thirty years. “The Iranian people are tired because they don’t have efficient income to afford the high priced groceries for their families,” he said. “The unemployment rate shown by Iran is unreliable.”
We spoke in Sam’s home, in a suburb of Vancouver. News was on the TV in the background and Sam continued to work with some papers on his desk as told me his story.
Sam spent his childhood in Tehran. In the early 2000s, he decided to move to Canada, though he wouldn’t arrive until 2012. He was able to move to the Vancouver area and since then he has been working there as an architect. “I remember in the 90s a bottle of water used to cost 125 rial,” he said. “However, right now the price of a bottle of water is 2500 rial.”
“The upcoming elections do not create any hope for better days for the people,” Sam mentioned. “In the Iranian elections, anyone can register as a candidate, for example Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was president from 2005 to 2013, has registered himself for the second time now.”
Usually, when a candidate registers himself, they have to get approved by the Guardian Council which is composed of 12 members, six of which are jurists and six are faqihs who are fluent in the Islamic law. All twelve members are appointed by the Supreme Leader.
“Even if the citizens vote for their candidate, the candidate won’t be their ideal one,” said Sam. “Because the registered candidates have to go through the Guardian Council’s approval.”
This year about 15 and more candidates registered themselves, in which only seven candidates got approved by the Guardian Council. According to the TIME article, these chosen seven candidates are a former nuclear negotiator (Saeed Jalili), several former and current politicians, a top judge (Ebrahim Raisi), the current head of Iran’s Central Bank, and a former Revolutionary Guard commander.
“In my opinion, Saeed Jalili is going to be the next president,” Sam responded. “However, the government is making the media think that Ebrahim Raisi is going to be the next president,” he continued. “This has been their game in every election.”
In Iran, people aged 18 and above who were born in Iran, believe in the Quaran and Islam can go to the polls and vote on June 18. The president holds the second most powerful place in the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, if the Supreme Leader does not approve of them, they are not going to be appointed as the president.
Hassan Rouhani, the current president of Iran, has been in office for eight years. Similar to the United States presidency rules, in Iran a president can only serve for eight years, which would be two terms of elections. Hassan Rouhani, has been the president since the nuclear negotiation with America and five more countries until former president Donald Trump came into office and the sanctions were imposed on Iran.
“I remember after the sanctions were imposed, the country was short on medicines and the price was three times more than its actual price before the sanctions,” Sam said. “People of Iran went through tough times after the sanctions were imposed.”
“A president in Iran, whether they are elected by the Iranians, will not make any difference in people’s lives,” he mentioned. “Because everything has to be approved by the Supreme Leader of Iran therefore neither the president nor the Iranians have power.”
Sam put his pencil down and said, “The Iranian people want freedom.”
Image Credit: Wikimedia, Hamed Saber
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