'This is not an election; this is selection'

Queen's Iranian community protests Friday's election results

A protester outside Stauffer Library demonstrates on Monday against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration of victory in Iran's elections.
A protester outside Stauffer Library demonstrates on Monday against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration of victory in Iran's elections.

More than 30 Iranian students, professors and their non-Iranian supporters demonstrated in front of Stauffer Library on Monday, chanting, “This is not an election; this is selection.”

For more than two hours, they called for a recount of the vote that declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of the June 12 election in Iran.

Narges Ahmidi, PhD ’11 and an Iranian citizen, went to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa last Friday to cast her ballot.

She said she heard the election results while she was waiting to vote.

“Even as we're still giving our votes, they said Ahmadinejad won the election,” she said, adding that the eight-hour time difference created some confusion about when the polls closed.

She estimates more than three-quarters of the people who voted from Canada cast their ballots for reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

On Monday, the demonstrators wore green, the colour of Mousavi’s campaign.

Ahmidi said she has had difficulty reaching her family members in Tehran, where protests against the election result continue.

“The first day [after the election], reception was difficult,” she said, adding that she lost land line contact with them late Monday night.

Cellular lines disconnect abruptly and text messaging has been cut off. Ahmidi has been relying on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook for updates about the protests in Iran.

“All my family are on the streets right now walking and protesting,” she said. “Actually, I couldn't sleep for three days right now. ... I’m worried for them because the guards and the police are hitting people with batons (and) I heard there have been gunshots.”

James Chou, PhD ’10, said he attended the demonstration on campus with his housemate, who is Iranian.

“I’m here to support my friend and also his family,” he said. “The important thing is that people be aware that the results ... may not represent the majority of Iranians.”

Babak Mahmoudi, PhD ’12, said he thinks more than 70 per cent of Iranians didn’t vote for Ahmadinejad in the election.

Mahmoudi just got back from a trip to Iran to visit family last Wednesday, before the election.

“There was this enthusiasm for people to vote,” he said. “Everyone was voting for Mousavi.”

He said he and other Iranian-Canadians will continue putting pressure on the Canadian government to support a recount of the vote.

“We want to support the people back in Iran,” he said. “I hope there will be a real election and they will count the votes again.”

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