Iran protesters detained after local election anger

Iranian protesters detained after uproar over 'corrupt' local election
3 min read
23 June, 2021
Iranian police have arrested over 100 people for taking part in a protest against the results of a local election and claiming that fraud occurred.
Iranians voted across the country on Friday [Getty]

Iranian officials have arrested over 100 people for taking part in protests over the weekend against the results of a local election in southwestern Iran. 

Protesters in Yasuj, the provincial capital of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, who took to the streets to question the validity of recent presidential elections were met with police violence, media have reported. 

"The city is practically under martial law. The internet was cut off until last night [Monday] and now it's working, but very slowly," an unnamed source in the area told IranWire.

A video was widely shared online, which reportedly showed three people being shot at a protest on Saturday, a day after the election.

Reports have said that two of the victims remain unconscious and a third is in an "unstable condition", said the unnamed source. 

The governor of Yasuj pushed back against these claims, alleging the video shows victims of a gas leak in the city and not an attack by police. 

Protesters took to the streets when their candidate, Esmail Yousefi, was removed from the eight-member Yasuj City Council, despite previously being told that he had secured a place. 

“At first, a Esmail Yousefi was declared the council’s fifth elected member. But a day later it was announced that there had been a counting error, and his name would be swapped with that of a Iman Javedaneh, who had been listed in eighth place,” a source told IranWire

Supporters of Yousefi rejected official claims that a counting error had occurred, and said that it was a clear case of foul play and manipulation. 

“Had there really been a counting error, the number of votes for the other candidates should have changed as well. But that didn’t happen,” the source continued.

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Activists have claimed that Yousefi was replaced by Javedaneh on the city council due to nepotism.

Iman Javedaneh is the cousin of Mehdi Roshanfekr, a member of parliament for Yasuj, and a former governor of the province. 

This swap is not the only irregularity noted about Yasuj's city council elections. 

Other candidates have lodged complaints with the city governor, claiming that a "cash-for-votes" scheme mired last Friday's vote. 

They further claimed that supervisors had meddled in the process to ensure favourable outcomes for preferred candidates. 

Yasuj's public prosecutor rejected the claims of election interference and insisted that "integrity" in the electoral process had been maintained. 

"There has been no manipulation of the electronic voting system," said the public prosecutor.

They went on to warn protestors against further activism. 

"The Islamic Republic is not weak and will end any kind of riot," it added.

Iranians voted across the country last Friday in local and presidential elections. Hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi was declared the winner of the presidential race, amid a historic low turnout.