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Prominent Activist In Prison Calls On Iranians To Boycott February Elections

Narges Mohammadi (2nd from R), Iranian human rights activist, on a brief leave from prison greeted by other female activists. Sep 2018. FILE PHOTO

A prominent human rights activist, Nargess Mohammadi has made an appeal to Iranian voters from prison to boycott parliamentary elections scheduled for February 21.

Narges Mohammadi, 47, is currently serving a sixteen-year sentence for alleged "political crimes."

Ms. Mohammadi has been imprisoned several times, but her last arrest was in 2014 after a meeting with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton at the time.

In her call from prison on February 4, Mohammadi said it is befitting to protest in the most civilized manner by launching “a powerful campaign” to boycott elections and respond “to the repressive and narrow-minded policies” of the ruling establishment.

In a reference to a bloody crackdown on protesters in Iran, she called for respect for those who died in protests and asked people to stay away from ballot boxes.

Referring to earlier elections that led to the emergence of the so-called reformist (1997-2005) and moderate (2013-present) governments, Mohammadi argued that the dominant part of the regime ignored the outcome of these elections; created crises and confronted the nation.

"The regime does not tolerate any form of protest, including peaceful rallies and demonstrations. It does not tolerate the establishment of NGOs. It only suppressed the vulnerable and defenseless protesters in mid-November through torture, massacre, and imprisonment," Mohammadi asserted.

An overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices triggered a series of protests last November that soon turned into an anti-regime uprising in 29 out of 31 provinces of Iran.

Security forces, backed by Special anti-Riot Units, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps forces and armed plainclothesmen rushed in and used deadly force against protesters. During the four-day demonstrations, hundreds were killed and more than 8,000 detained.

Elections for the eleventh term of Majles (Islamic Republic parliament) and the bi-election for the Experts Assembly are scheduled to be held on February 21.

However, the Islamic Republic's ultraconservative Guardian Council has already disqualified hundreds of individuals nominated for parliamentary seats.

Ninety percent of the reformist nominees were disqualified, the Reformists High Council of Policies recently declared.