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Iran Election and the Media

Iran Election and the Media

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Published by Shahrvaraz
A year on, the western media are still in abject denial of the results of the Iranian presidential election of 2009. Here, I show that their claim of a "stolen election" is just conspiracy talk designed to delegitimise the regime in order to impose punitive sanctions of military action against the country.
A year on, the western media are still in abject denial of the results of the Iranian presidential election of 2009. Here, I show that their claim of a "stolen election" is just conspiracy talk designed to delegitimise the regime in order to impose punitive sanctions of military action against the country.

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Published by: Shahrvaraz on Jun 01, 2010
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06/01/2010

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The Western media continues to deny the truthabout the Iranian presidential election one year on
Reza Esfandiari Yousef Bozorgmehr  
It is now a year since the 10
th
presidential election in Iran was held and theaccusations of a fraudulent poll made at the time, along with questionsregarding the legitimacy of the government, simply won’t go away. Despitethe fact that no hard evidence of manipulation has ever emerged or beenidentified, and the results of three independent post-election surveys arestrongly congruent with the official figures, a chorus of deniers continues toinsist on a “stolen election”. They maintain that the Iranian government lacksany right to rule and that the people need to be helped to overthrow it.From the very outset, the corporate-run western media denounced the resultas a “preposterous sham” and largely disregarded the views of real experts onIranian politics, such as the independent-minded Dr Kaveh Afrasiabi, whoadvised on caution and a more methodical analysis.Indeed, the result of the poll would appear to be unique in the history of elections given that the political pundits have decided to malign and dismissthe outcome outright, even though there is ample information available thatcan verify its authenticity. This is especially so in Iran where 25 nationwideelections have been held since the 1979 revolution and the outcome of noneof them, as far as the count of the vote is concerned, has ever been seriouslydisputed by the competing sides.Recently, with the arrival of the anniversary of the election and calls for freshprotests in Iran, the media is back to its policy of regime demonisation and isunreservedly speaking of the election of yesteryear as a travesty of justice.Robert Parry, a seasoned author and reporter, remarks that the press in theUnited States routinely describes the election as "fraudulent," "rigged" or "stolen" but with nothing substantive to show in support of this claim. It is evenmore absurd given the nature of the victory – a margin of 11 million votes.This would be on a scale unlike any stolen election such as that of the USpresidential contest of 2000, secured by just a few hundred votes in Florida.Writing in the
International Herald Tribune
, veteran journalist Roger Cohenhas recalled his time in Iran covering the election, describing it as resemblinga “putsch”[1]. Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador to Iran and afellow of Chatham House (the same organisation which released a
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“preliminary analysis” attempting to smear the official voting figures), hasreferred to the June poll as an “electoral couporchestrated by theRevolutionary Guard and those around Ayatollah Khamenei [2].The British Establishment press has been even more scathing. Murdoch-owned
The Times of London
excoriated the Iranian government in a leadingarticle, declaring it to be
corrupt, ruthless and illegitimate” and that it hadretained power only due to a “stolen election”[3].
 
Meanwhile the
Daily Telegraph
was even more frank in its assessment, decrying the election resultas a
blatant act of fraud”[4]. The outrage over Iran, but relative silence of themedia over genuine cases of widespread rigging that returned Hamid Karzaito power in Afghanistan, is especially conspicuous.Of course, the claims of fraud were first made by the defeated opponents of President Ahmadinejad within Iran. One of those, Mehdi Karroubi, has againinsisted that the result did not in any way reflect the count of the vote [5] andwere arranged in advance. One then wonders why he participated in theelection if he thought it was going to be rigged so brazenly.However the western media, together with organisations affiliated to theopposition “green movementsuch as Kelly Niknejad’s “Tehran Bureau”,continue to reject the verdict and will of the majority of the Iranian peoplemerely out of deference to their own contempt of President Ahmadinejad.Academics, journalists and scholars who should know better, have engagedin what is essentially an hysterical denial of all of the available evidence. Thefollowing is a point-by-point response to all of the spurious and oftencontradicting claims made by those who argue that the poll was rigged – afuller treatment is given by Eric Brill whose authoritative work is referred toextensively [6]. This is not going to change any hardened opinions, because ithas come down to a matter of personal conviction over reasoned argument,but it does expose the inanity of the conspiracy theorists and deniers.
1)The result was announced too quickly for a hand-counted election
Karim Sadjadpour of the
Carnegie Endowment 
was one of the first to makethis claim. Appearing on CNN, he stated that it was impossible for thepreliminary results, numbering 5 million of the 39 million ballots cast, to havebeen hand-counted in the space of just 2 hours [7]. It is odd that he shouldhave thought this considering that the result of the parliamentary election inLebanon, which occurred only a few days earlier, had been determined withinhours of the polls closing. Also, the second round of the 2005 presidentialelection in Iran was called before midnight, based on the margin of the lead.Moreover, an analysis of the results of the 45,632 ballot boxes used showsthat some contained as few as 13 votes. How long would it have taken tocount these? Not long. With each polling station independently reporting to
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the Interior Ministry their results electronically, this is simply not a valid or logical argument in support of electoral fraud.It is also interesting that in the Iranian municipal elections of 2006, the resultswere delayed due to the sheer number of candidates standing and many inIran suspected that the Interior Ministry was spending time massaging thefigures. This turned out not to have been an instance of paranoia. The speedof results in this election actually serves to negate any possibility of artificialmanipulation at the central level.
2)The results appear to have been made up and predetermined
Following on from the previous claim is that the election results weren’t basedon the tallies of the tens of thousands of individual ballot boxes at all, but wererather manufactured in advance by the authorities who had anticipated defeatfor Ahmadinejad. However, Mousavi’s camp had initially reacted to theelection result by insisting that the the vote tallies had simply been switchedduring the night by the Interior Ministry and that it was in fact Mousavi whohad received over 60% of the vote [8].When the disaggregated data was announced this claim became untenableand the notion of complete fabrication was bandied instead. Dr Ali Ansari of StAndrew’s university, reflecting this, stated that the votes cast hadn’t evenbeen counted and the figures published amounted to being “magic numbers”[9] ; likewise, Farideh Farhi of Hawaii University asserted they had been“pulled out of a hat” [10].Journalists who were in Iran at the time, like Scott Peterson of the
ChristianScience Monitor 
and Roger Cohen of the
New York Times
, also gave voice tothis, the latter proclaiming the election to be a “tragic joke”. He wrote thisapparently having talked to an unidentified Ministry of Interior worker, and nodoubt Mousavi supporter, who said that the numbers were being generatedbehind closed doors.This was followed up in a report earlier this year where an Iranian diplomatassigned to Norway, and who has since defected, remarked that he had beenasked to change the tally of the votes cast by Iranian expatriates which wereoverwhelmingly in favour of Mousavi.All of this is, of course, utter nonsense. Firstly, a cursory look at the data fromall of the European embassies does shows that the relatively few votes castby Iranian expatriates were indeed heavily supportive of Mousavi. In Sweden,Germany, France, the United Kingdom, as well as Norway, Mousavi received75-85% of the vote [11].The idea that a few thousand ballots needed changing is patently ridiculous. Itwas predicted that Mousavi would easily carry the expatriate vote, whosenumbers were never going to be big enough to sway the result of a decisive
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