Presidential elections in Iran (June 18)

State oppression must end (Press Release)

On Sunday (June 18), the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran will elect a new president. The Society for threatened Peoples (STP) fears that none of the candidates is prepared to allow real freedom of belief – and the human rights organization demands an end to the oppression of the Bahá'í and other religious minorities. "We fear that the systematic oppression of the approximately 300.000 Bahá'í in Iran is about to escalate, especially with regard to the areas of criminal law and various administrative regulations. Recently, belonging to an unrecognized religious minority – such as the Bahá'í community – became a criminal offense, and the authorities are looking out for Bahá'í children at schools in order to subject them to forced Islamization," stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP's Middle East Consultant. Further, members of ethnic minorities cannot rely on their rights. The Kurdish, Ahwazi, Baluchi, Azerbaijani, and Turkmen population groups should be given cultural and language rights as well as regional self-government.  

Instead, the authorities are exerting more and more control measures in some provinces, harassing the members of minority groups. "We are witnessing an unprecedented smear campaign against the Bahá'í, but also against the Christian minority, on all media channels: TV, Radio, Newspapers, websites, and social media platforms, books, education offers, exhibitions, street graffiti… hatred against the minority groups is everywhere. All this serves to legitimize violent attacks and oppression," Sido explained.  

When Hassan Rohani became President at the beginning of 2013, many had hoped that this would lead to improvements regarding human rights, women's rights, and minority rights. Rohani was said to be reform-oriented. However, the number of death sentences increased during his term in office, and the human rights situation deteriorated significantly. "A total number of 246 death sentences were carried out in 2020 alone. Together with the draconian prison sentences against members of the opposition, this creates a climate of fear," Sido emphasized. In consequence, hardly anybody in Iran dares to question the Mullah-regime.

After two terms in office, Hassan Rohani cannot run for president again. Originally, there were 40 women among the 592 candidates. "Then, at the end of May, the Guardian Council under the directorship of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei decided to only accept seven candidates. All of them are members of the established Shiite-Islamist regime," Sido criticized. "According to our research, the voter turnout will probably not exceed 35 to 40 percent, even though the Supreme Leader stated that void ballots are 'haram' – meaning 'forbidden'." 

The voter turnout among the 10 million members of the Kurdish minority will probably be even lower, as the regime is especially unpopular in Iranian Kurdistan.