“Many Iranians, battered by economic sanctions, political turmoil and the lingering threat of military conflict, say they are in no mood to vote in general elections this week,” AFP reported on 17 February 2020.
AFP added that Iranian citizens complain that they are tired of politicians who have failed to keep their word or to raise living standards.
Some interviews by AFP with Tehran’s residents protesting about the current situation:
“No way! There’s no way we are going to vote!” 62-year-old Pari said under the gaze of her daughter who also intends to boycott the parliamentary polls Friday because she no longer trusts politicians.
“It’s difficult for everyone in Iran nowadays. We’re fed up. We want to send a message that we’re not satisfied with the situation,” the mother added.
Pari and her daughter Kiana were strolling through Tajrish, one of the capital’s most exclusive neighbourhoods where displays of wealth contrast sharply with extreme poverty.
Elegant women in dark glasses steered their SUVs through streets lined with roadside vendors who displayed their wares on the grimy pavement.
“There’s no work, no future,” said Kiana, her jet-black hair falling out from under her headscarf.
Above all, she said she no longer “trusts the authorities” and is dismayed by their “lack of honesty”.
AFP’s report mentioned: “President Hassan Rouhani, re-elected in 2017, promised more social and individual freedoms and gave assurances that Iranians would be able to benefit from the fruits of engagement with the West.”
AFP wrote that the credibility of Iran’s leaders took a hit among many when authorities denied last month that Iranian armed forces had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner, before they came clean days later.
AFP reported about the crippled state of Iranian people’s livelihood:
At Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, beyond the stunning turquoise-blue mosaic entrance, hundreds of people scrambled into the historic market, a labyrinth of alleys and shops underneath stone vaulted ceilings.
Browsing for brass dishware, linen bedding, refined carpets and clothes, shoppers elbowed their way through the crowd.
Standing at the entrance was Amir Mohtasham, a 38-year-old who has been jobless for two years and who said he worries about the lack of vision of those candidates allowed to stand for elections.
“It seems none of the candidates has a plan for anything,” he said.
“Neither the conservatives nor the reformists are trustworthy. They only care about votes… Our elections are useless.”
A short distance away, a 30-year-old carpet merchant, though much better off, voiced similar views.
“We voted for Rouhani with a dream, but we didn’t achieve anything,” Mohammad said, accusing the authorities of spreading “lies”.
“People no longer have peace of mind,” he said. “When the people aren’t the ones who decide, why should we vote? If voting is legitimising, then we won’t vote.”
AFP reports on how people express their protest:
“Elections have just become symbolic… I don’t support this system and won’t vote,” 20-year-old Kamran Baluchzadeh said, in a rare show of dissent.
“I feel hopeless and weak, and I’m even not 25 years old,” he said, shivering in below-freezing temperatures.
“I feel desperate,” he added, citing expenses he can’t pay, worries about being unable to find a wife and taking care of his parents.
Bags of clothing and a telephone in hand, Pari Aghazadeh is a fashion designer who does not go unnoticed with her slender figure, redone nose, false nails and thick coat of lipstick.
“I honestly don’t want to vote, because it won’t fix our problems,” she said, accusing the government of mismanagement.
“This government, this system doesn’t care at all about women. We don’t have any personal freedoms,” she said.
At least by boycotting the vote, she said, “we can voice our protest”.