The tragic farce of voting in Iran

Laura Secor in The New Yorker:

120507_r22164_p465On February 29th, two days before parliamentary elections in Iran, I joined a few dozen foreign correspondents—along with official handlers—in the parking lot of the Laleh, a formerly five-star Tehran hotel with tatty rooms, an ornate lobby, and a surfeit of eyes. We had come to Iran to cover the election, but we were told upon arrival that there would be a compulsory program. Its first order of business was a bus trip to the Alborz Space Center, where we would learn about Iran’s new remote-controlled satellite.

Our bus, clearly in no hurry, rumbled westward along streets of low-slung storefronts until we’d left the capital; it traversed the neighboring city of Karaj, passing a string of industrial plants, and reached a clearing in the midst of sprawl. The space center was a modest glass-fronted building an hour and a half’s drive from any conceivable election activity in Tehran.

The regime had bused us all this way to show us a PowerPoint presentation. No one at the space center seemed to speak English, so one of our handlers stepped in to translate. He said jokingly, “I am not a member of Iran’s space program, so please don’t put that in your reports. I really don’t want to be the next Iranian scientist to be assassinated.” (Since 2010, four scientists connected to Iran’s nuclear program have been killed.)

More here.