The Significance of Iran’s 2017 Presidential Election

G. Reza

What election?

Many casual observers’ reaction to Iran’s presidential elections would be “What election? Are there real elections in Iran?” The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has a notorious human rights record, which many international studies rank among the worst in the world. Amnesty International, for example, writes:

The authorities heavily suppressed the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and religious belief, arresting and imprisoning peaceful critics and others after grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and widespread, and were committed with impunity. Floggings, amputations and other cruel punishments continued to be applied. Members of religious and ethnic minorities faced discrimination and persecution. Women and girls faced pervasive violence and discrimination. The authorities made extensive use of the death penalty, carrying out hundreds of executions, some in public. At least two juvenile offenders were executed.1

Human Rights Watch in its 2016 World Report writes:

Repressive elements within the security and intelligence forces, as well as the judiciary, retained wide powers and continued to be the main perpetrators of rights abuses. Executions, especially for drug-related offenses, increased sharply from previous years. Security and intelligence forces arrested journalists, bloggers, and social media activists, and revolutionary courts handed down heavy sentences against them.2

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