memorandum by Mr Lindblad, rapporteur
1 Since 13 June 2009, Iran has been the scene of the
biggest popular upheaval since the 1979 revolution. Massive protests
following the announcement of the results of the presidential election
which was held on 12 June, the contesting of the results of the
vote, calls for annulment of the vote by the opposition supporters and
the reaction of the authorities, who have used violence against
peaceful demonstrators and imposed severe restrictions on the freedom
of expression, raise the utmost concern about possible future developments.
2 Numerous allegations of irregularities during the vote reported
by the three defeated presidential candidates raise obvious concerns
about the fairness of the electoral process. Even if the electoral
law, the basis of which the presidential election was conducted,
does not meet Council of Europe standards, the rules, once established
by the Iranian Guardian Council, should be observed. An independent
and credible investigation should clarify all concerns about irregularities
and the contested results.
3 That said, at present, the principal concern is the human
rights situation in Iran and the use of force and violence by the
Iranian authorities against peaceful demonstrations. The clashes,
which have already resulted in at least 18 deaths, according to
the official information and many more according to independent
sources, as well as numerous casualties and over 400 detentions,
may lead to unpredictable and tragic consequences which could spiral
out of control.
4 Peaceful demonstrations are an acceptable expression of public
opinion and constitute a political act compatible with a political
system aspiring to democracy. They are inscribed in the basic principles
of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
5 Iran is an important member of the international community
and a key player for regional stability. Regrettably, over recent
years, it has been playing a destabilising role in the region, supporting
terrorist actions and pursuing its nuclear programme. The international
community has a legitimate interest in the situation in Iran.
6 The election of President Barak Obama in the United States
and the new approach of the United States administration to possible
dialogue and co-operation with the Iranian authorities have opened
up a window of opportunity for the future. It would be regrettable
if this opportunity were to be wasted. The international community
should not spare any effort to support the prospects for the establishing
of a climate of confidence necessary for launching new relations.
7 The Assembly, as a leading pan-European Organisation standing
for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, cannot remain silent
when the most basic democratic values and human rights are violated irrespective
of the place in the world where this occurs. The potential for dramatic
consequences in the present situation puts even greater responsibility
on the international community and obliges it to make every effort which
might contribute to the solution of the problem.
8 The present report, which is prepared under urgent procedure,
is the first attempt to identify the Assembly’s possible contribution
to the peaceful solution of the situation in Iran in the aftermath
of the presidential election. As it is my deep conviction that the
best way to achieve stability and security is through democracy,
respect for human rights and the rule of law, I also propose to
increase the involvement of the Assembly in the promotion of these
values by dialogue at the parliamentary level.
9 The electoral campaign leading to the presidential
election, scheduled on 12 June 2009, with unprecedented television
debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands
of people, was animated and emotional. The Iranian society is politically
active and the turnout in the elections is usually high.
10 Four candidates who were admitted to compete in the 2009 election
included the incumbent President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Mr Hossein
Mousavi, a former Prime Minister who stayed out of politics for
several years and returned to stand as a moderate reformist; Mr
Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, who is
now critical about President Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy and handling
of the nuclear issue, and a reformist, Mr Mehdi Karroubi, a former
Speaker of parliament.
11 The turn-out on the day of the election was 85% of over 46
million eligible voters. Long queues were reported at polling stations,
and voting was extended by at least four hours.
12 Soon after the closure of the polls, the two leading candidates,
Mir Hossein Mousavi and the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed
victory. Mr Mousavi said that he was the “definite winner” and alleged
that there had been widespread irregularities.
13 On 13 June, the Interior Ministry announced that Mr Ahmadinejad
had won with 62,6% of the vote, against 33,8% for Mr Mousavi. Mr
Rezai obtained 1,7% of the vote cast and Mr Karroubi 0,9%. All three opposition
candidates contested the election and called for it to be annulled
and re-run. More than 600 objections have been filed complaining
about the poll.
14 Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described the
outcome as a real celebration, urged the opposition to accept the
result and called for calm. Mr Ahmadinejad called the vote “free
and healthy” in a live address to the nation.
15 In Teheran, crowds of people gathered in the streets in support
of defeated candidates. They protested about the fairness of the
election and called for a re-run of the vote. Clashes with the state
police took place on several occasions.
16 In parallel, Mr Ahmadinejad's supporters descended in the
streets waving flags and hooting car horns.
17 On 14 June, the Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced
that he had asked the Guardian Council - the country's supreme legislative
body - to investigate the allegations of vote-rigging.
18 Meanwhile demonstrations continued with several violent confrontations
between the security forces and protesting demonstrators. In contrast,
tens of thousands of people attended a rally elsewhere in the capital to
celebrate the re-election of Mr Ahmadinejad.
19 According to the reformist political groups in Iran, as many
as 100 people - including the brother of the former president, Mohammad
Khatami - were arrested during the night.
20 The Iranian authorities jammed the BBC’s Persian language
21 On 15 June, the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, appeared
in public for the first time since the election, at a mass rally
in Tehran, which gathered hundreds of thousands of people. Violence
broke out at the end of the rally when the demonstrators were attacked
by the police.
22 The same day, the Guardian Council confirmed that it had received
complaints from Mr Mousavi and Mr Rezai and committed itself to
issue a ruling within 10 days.
23 The United States President, Barack Obama and United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the situation
24 On 16 June, the Guardian Council announced that it was ready
to recount votes in areas where results were contested. Earlier,
the Council ruled that the results were only "provisional". However
the Council said it would not annul the election.
25 Iranian state radio announced that seven people were killed
during the opposition demonstration on the previous evening. Opposition
26 There were reports of the unrest spreading to other cities,
including Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz.
27 The number of people detained since the beginning of the demonstrations
increased to over 100. Among them were prominent journalist and
academic Ahmad Zeidabadi and a close aid of ex-President Mohammad Khatami,
Mohammad Ali Abtahi.
28 There were reports of demonstrations at Tehran university
and about 120 university lecturers resigned.
29 The authorities announced tough new restrictions on foreign
media, requiring journalists to obtain explicit permission before
covering any story. Journalists were also banned from attending
or reporting on any unauthorised demonstration.
30 On 19 June, Ayatollah Khamenei criticised Western governments
for their reaction to the re-election of President Ahmadinejad.
He accused the West of trying to foment unrest in the country. He
called on protesters to stop and said their political leaders would
be blamed for any violence.
31 In Washington, President Barack Obama said the United States
should not interfere in the situation in Iran, but repeated his
concern about the scenes of violence.
32 On 20 June, a massive demonstration took place in the centre
of Teheran. Police forces were used against the demonstrators. According
to the official information, 10 people were killed and many more
injured. Over 400 people were arrested during the demonstration,
including 5 members of the family of Mr Rafsanjani.
33 On 21 and 22 June, demonstrations continued.
3 Matters of concern
34 As I have already stated, the electoral law in Iran
does not meet Council of Europe standards. All candidates must receive
the approval of the Guardian Council and of the Supreme Leader;
there are no clear and fair rules for the electoral campaign; state
media openly support the incumbent president and the principle of
freedom of expression is not observed.
35 But even in these difficult conditions, it is possible for
an opposition candidate to beat an incumbent president as was the
case in 1997, when a reformist moderate, Mr Mohammad Khatami, won
with 70% of the votes, beating the conservative ruling elite.
36 This victory was repeated in the parliamentary elections in
2000, when liberals and supportors of Mr Khatami won control of
parliament from conservatives.
37 The concerns about the fairness of the electoral process were
present even before the date of the vote. In his letter to Iran’s
Supreme Leader of 11 June 2009, Mr Mousavi evoked a number of alleged
irregularities such as withdrawing badges from opposition monitors
and giving them confusing instructions as to access to the polling
38 The concerns were increased immediately after the first announcement
of the partial results, only four hours after the closure of the
polls. The way the results were announced, in blocks of millions
of votes and in percentages rather than province by province as
in the previous elections, seemed to be most unusual. Furthermore,
as the blocks of votes came in, the percentages for each candidate
changed very little, which suggested that Mr Ahmadinejad received
equally good results in rural and urban areas. Conversely, it meant that
the three defeated candidates lost even in their home regions and
provinces. These results were unusually inconsistent with typical
variations between different regions and cities, and overturned
all precedents in previous elections.
39 Very soon after, numerous other reports on irregularities
were evoked: allegedly there was a shortage of ballot papers and
millions of people had been denied the right to vote. The opposition
monitors were not allowed proper access to polling stations: many
of them were issued with invalid ID cards, or they were simply refused
entry. The number of mobile polling stations largely exceeded the
number planned, the ballot boxes were transported from one place
to another by agents of the Interior Ministry and the monitors had
no control over them.
40 Much of the mobile phone text messaging system, which the
opposition had been hoping to use to send back reports from their
monitors at polling stations and election counts, was not working.
41 The vote counts that were released on 15 June, showed an improbable
switch in voters’ preferences in certain areas since 2005. For example,
Mehdi Karoubi polled 5% in Lorestan despite having won 55% there four
years ago. Furthermore, in some provinces like Khoresan or Mazenderan,
the number of people who voted, exceeded the number of eligible
voters in these provinces.
42 That said, I would like to underline that caution is necessary
when assessing the situation: one cannot ignore the genuine popularity
of President Ahmadinejad and the possibility that he really won
the election. An independent poll, conducted in May, by the US organisation
Terror Free Tomorrow, found that 34% of voters would vote in favour
of Mr Ahmadinejad, 14% in favour of Mr Moussavi, and 27% were still
43 As monitors were excluded from the voting and counting process,
it is difficult for the opposition to come up with evidence of fraud.
At this stage, the only way to clarify the contested results is
to carry out a credible and independent investigation into the electoral
44 Over the last few days, however, a major concern has been
linked to the human rights situation in Iran. The use of excessive
force and violence against peaceful demonstrators, which resulted
in deaths and injuries, massive detention of demonstrators and of
opposition politicians, their families and journalists including Mr Ebrahim
Yazdi, a former foreign minister and a leader of the Freedom movement
of Iran, must put the international community on the alert.
45 The authorities have also imposed a number of restrictive
measures on domestic and foreign journalists and media, and communications,
thus making it impossible for them to report on the real situation.
46 All these developments create the risk of losing control of
the situation which might lead to dramatic consequences.
4 What is at stake?
47 Iran is not a democracy according to universal standards
upheld by the Council of Europe. It combines unelected religious
authorities with subordinate elected civilians. It is designed to
give people the chance to express their preferences which would
provide it with a sort of legitimacy.
48 Thus the constitution stipulates that the people are the source
of power and the country holds phased presidential and parliamentary
elections every four years.
49 As already mentioned, elections in Iran cannot be considered
as democratic according to the Council of Europe standards. Every
candidate must be approved by the Supreme Leader of Iran and accept
revolutionary principles. Also, as regards the electoral campaign,
there are no adequate conditions in Iran for freedom and expression
of the press. The country has been criticised for its lack of respect
for human rights and the rule of law.
50 Those who voted for Mr Mousavi hoped for more personal freedom,
more opportunities and better relations with the international community.
The West hoped that his election would bring about peaceful reforms
in Iran, the establishment of a dialogue on the nuclear issue, and
put an end to the destabilising role of Iran in the Middle East.
51 The rules under Mr Ahmadinejad’s presidency have been illiberal
and authoritarian. They were often vicious in the suppression of
opponents and in their disregard for human rights. Iran has the
highest rate of judicial executions per capita in the world. Women
are deprived of many basic rights. There is widespread corruption
and a high rate of poverty.
52 Supporters of Mr Ahmadinejad have praised him for pushing
forward the nuclear programme and say he has earned more respect
for Iran internationally.
53 But today there is more at stake than the political future
of persons. What is even more more important is the direction in
which the country will go.
54 The government has encouraged the people to vote and to campaign,
thus giving them the illusion of real influence on the political
process in their country, but at one stage it has lost control over
their wish to exert this influence in reality.
55 If the protests are not handled with care and respect for
human rights, the future of the whole regime may be put under question
and the final outcome may be unpredictable. So far, the Iranian
leaders have sought to claim both: legitimacy and monopoly of power.
The time has come to choose between the two.
5 International community
56 The international community should make every effort
to help the Iranian authorities make the right choices in respect
of human rights and democratic values.
57 A clear signal should be sent that the world is watching,
as the US President has stressed in his statement. The use of force
and violence should be condemned unequivocally. Also other repressive
measures taken by the government, including detentions and restrictions
on the freedom of expression and communication should be denounced.
58 At the same time the international community should refrain
from meddling with the domestic politics in Iran.
59 The approach espoused by President Obama aims to keep the
window of opportunity open and does not rule out the possibility
of meaningful dialogue.
6 The Assembly’s
60 The Assembly is well placed to contribute to the
promotion of democratic values, rule of law and respect for human
61 The Third Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government
has underscored the importance of the inter-cultural dialogue.
62 The Assembly and its Political Affairs Committee has accumulated
an important body of experience in pursuing a dialogue at the parliamentary
level with parliaments in non-member states.
63 The situation in Iran has been followed by the Committee for
a long time now, and a number of resolutions on the Iranian nuclear
issue have been presented for debate in the Assembly. The situation
in Iran has also been discussed in the context of the situation
in the Middle East.
64 The Assembly should declare its readiness to engage in meaningful
dialogue with the Parliament of Iran and Iranian civil society.
Reporting committee: Political
Reference to committee: Reference
No. 3579 on 22 June 2009
Draft resolution unanimously
adopted by the committee on 23 June 2009
Members of the committee: Mr Göran Lindblad (Chairman),
Mr David Wilshire (Vice-Chairman) (alternate: Mr John Austin), Mr Björn Von Sydow (Vice-Chairman), Mrs
Kristina Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Fátima Aburto Baselga,
Mr Françis Agius, Mr Alexander
Babakov (alternate: Mr Sergey Markov),
Mr Viorel Badea, Mr Denis Badré,
Mr Ryszard Bender, Mr Andris
Bērzinš, Mr Pedrag Boškovic, Mr Luc Van den Brande, Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Mr Lorenzo Cesa (alternate:
Mr Pietro Marcenaro), Mr
Titus Corlătean, Ms Anna Čurdová,
Mr Rick Daems, Mr Dumitru Diacov, Ms Josette Durrieu, Mr Frank Fahey, Mr Piero Fassino (alternate:
Mr Andrea Rigoni), Mr Per-Kristian Foss, Mr György Frunda, Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto, Mr Marco Gatti, Mr Charles Goerens, Mr Andreas Gross, Mr Michael Hancock, Mr Davit Harutiunyan,
Mr Joachim Hörster, Mrs Sinikka Hurskainen, Mr Tadeusz Iwiński, Mr Bakir Izetbegović,
Mr Michael Aastrup Jensen, Mr Miloš Jevtić (alternate: Mr Milos Aligrudic), Mr Emmanouil Kefaloyiannis, Mrs Birgen Keleş, Mr Victor Kolesnikov, Mr
Konstantion Kosachev (alternate: Mr Alexander Pochinok), Mr Jean-Pierre Kucheida (alternate:
Mr Laurent Béteille), Ms
Darja Lavtižar-Bebler, Mr
René van der Linden, Mr Dariusz
Lipiński, Mr Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Mr Younal Loutfi, Mr Gennaro
Malgieri, Mr Dick Marty (alternate: Mrs Liliane Maury-Pasquier), Mr Frano Matušić,
Mr Dragoljub Mićunović, Mr Jean-Claude Mignon,
Ms Nadezhda Mikhailova, Mr Aydin Mirzazada (alternate: Mr Sabir Hajiyev), Ms Lilja Mósesdóttir,
Mr Joāo Bosco Mota Amaral, Mrs Olga Nachtmannová,
Mr Gebhard Negele, Mrs Miroslava
Nemcova, Mr Zsolt Németh, Mr Fritz Neugebauer (alternate: Mr Franz-Eduard Kühnel), Mr Hryhoriy Omelchenko, Mr Theodoros Pangalos (alternate:
Mr Konstantinos Vrettos),
Mr Ivan Popescu (Mrs Olha Herasym’yuk),
Mr Christos Pourgourides, Mr
John Prescott, Mr Gabino
Puche (alternate: Mr Pedro Agramunt),
Mr Amadeu Rossell Tarradellas,
Mr Ilir Rusmali, Mr Oliver Sambevski, Mr Ingo Schmitt, Mr Samad
Seyidov, Mr Leonid Slutsky,
Mr Rainder Steenblock, Mr Zoltán Szabó, Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Mr
Han Ten Broeke, Lord Tomlinson,
Mr Petré Tsiskarishvili, Mr Mihai Tudose, Mr Ilyas Umakhanov, Mr José Vera Jardim,
Mr Luigi Vitali, Mr Wolfgang Wodarg, Ms Gisela Wurm, Mr Emanuelis Zingueris.
Ex-officio: MM. Mátyás
Eörsi, Tiny Kox
N.B.: The names of the members who took part in the meeting
are printed in bold
Secretariat of the committee:
Mrs Nachilo, Mr Chevtchenko, Mrs Sirtori-Milner, Ms Alleon