the universe was never as cruel as the moment it woke me up

 

by Eli Rooke

 

The cosmos forged me a new body

and I was finally made of stardust.

Constellations traced along my scars,

and the sun warmed me to my bones.

The galaxy embraced me, and it was love.

I held myself, and it was love.

 

The sky turned dark, as stars

suddenly fell from their places.

I became a shooting star,

and I was falling.

I was burning.

 

I held and clutched

at the warmth still blessed to my skin.

But in a moment of burning ash, I was awake.

I was back in skin, stretched tight over my soul

and back in breaths, caught in cages.

My body was cold.

 

–  The universe was never as cruel as the moment it woke me up.

 

About Eli Rooke:

Eli Rooke is a non-binary entity who enjoys writing queer stories, with a particular focus on trans journeys and experiences. They can usually be found playing god with original worlds and characters. Eli has a passion for collaborative storytelling, and believes the best stories are the ones created with others.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

pride

This piece originally appeared in the Identity issue of SWINE Magazine

 

By Alex Edwards

I get asked every so often whether pride events are still important.

Do we still need to celebrate being queer?

When I hear these types of questions, I think about all the pride events I have attended and what they meant for me….the most recent being Midsumma Pride March, held on the 23rd of May, 2021.

The march was a great event which ended up having around 8000 marchers from about 240 groups and a couple of hundred spectators. As one of the marchers at the event, it was amazing to attend – especially after the wild year that was 2020. Being part of the march, you can feel the love and support that exists, and for a moment you forget about the rest of society and just focus on the fact that there are other people like you with similar experiences. When you live in a society that is run by rich cis white men, a society that doesn’t understand you or your experiences, being in an environment that makes you feel included and a part of society is a huge thing. Pride events are a celebration, but they still act as a form of protest against a society that doesn’t accept us.

This is what pride has always been about. Queer people fighting for equal rights and acceptance in a society that doesn’t understand us. That fight isn’t over but also, sadly, we have our own problems accepting others, which continue to persist in the queer community (as in the community more broadly), including racism, gate-keeping of queer identities, and ableism. These things work to further isolate queer people who don’t fit into the more widely understood boxes of queerness or who aren’t cis or white, and who don’t have disabilities. These are issues that the community needs to work on.

I love being part of the queer community, however at times I am ashamed by the behaviours of some of its members. Instead of letting this dishearten me though, I see it as on opportunity to become better informed and then pass on that knowledge – something I work towards in my role as the SSU Queer Representative. I try to pass on knowledge about our history to those who are new to the community or want to become better allies. I also work towards finding out how we can better assist those who are marginalised within the community.

All of us deserve to feel safe and accepted for all elements of our identity. While we continue to fight for acceptance and recognition from wider society, it’s also important for those of us who understand what it’s like to be excluded, to ensure that we don’t continue to perpetuate those feelings of erasure or exclusion in our own communities.

 

Alex Edwards is the current SSU Queer Rep.

Photo by Raphael Renter on Unsplash

our private cubicle

 

By Lachlan Bowden

The bed was caught in a limbo between comfortable and irritable – itchy at every touch. The concave deepened after that evening, indifferent to permissible reasoning. A time limit had always been agreed upon, out by 10, no matter what. The democratic rulings of a bedroom always seemed more agreeable before fucking, and tortuous once the door closed on the way out. Always carefully shut to avoid a slam, and thus unwanted attention. Sliding on unbuttoned jeans, shortly before the exodus, the silence proved to be an excruciating companion, though a faithful one.

Albert only had his left sock on. He assumed the right resided beneath the shadows of the bed, or on the right foot of Harvey, who was most likely cycling toward the far end of Coventry Street by this point. Stoic and calm, Albert lay diagonally on his bed. Half consumed by the sheets, half vulnerable to the biting cold air that filled the room. His erectile sheath still bearing him, knowing that he would not sleep in that state. It seemed as though moving from that position – comfort purgatory – may contain the potency to, only just, kill him. Harvey’s actions were premeditated, this was routine. Harvey’s rapid evacuation never surprised Albert, though he was always paralysed on the site of passion, which never seemed to not catch him off guard.

***

The hors d’oeuvres had an overbearing artichoke component, with a lot of what seemed like pepper, though Albert couldn’t be sure. He had dropped the appetiser on the floor as he attempted to nonchalantly navigate his way through, peers, acquaintances, friends of friends, pricks and arseholes, to the sanctuary of the free bar. It seemed like a social obligation to either subsidise or – if you really respected your friends – pay for the lot. Albert had just subsidised when it was his 21st. However, Amalie insisted on drinks being covered until at least 10 pm and, seemingly, Mum and Dad had no issue. This disparity promised to linger only momentarily under Albert’s skin, as somewhat of an irritation, though not warranting formal action. Much like a small, semi-itchy rash on the back of your calf, not worth the energy of an appointment to address, rather, it was fixable with an Epson salt bath and the application of some Cetaphil.

‘Beers, Wine, and Cider’, was written with ill-penmanship in mossy green, above the chef’s specials that had been served moments before, and were now probably half-digested in the guts of the previous patrons.

‘Uh, maybe just a pint of stone and wood,’ Albert squinted and sloped his brow to appear somewhat experienced in the tedious dance of bartender interaction.

‘Here, mate.’ He handed Albert the glass.

Moments after the first sip – which promised so much, according to adverts of hard-working men in tight singlets taking that initial heroic sup of light protruding lager, which was actually rather disheartening – the speeches began.

‘Hellllo everyone, hope you’re enjoying your drinks… on me!’ Dad was a little pissed. Usually, a joke in front of this capacity was unthinkable. Though, the crowd laughed in their timely facade, as the panel of speakers lined up – some bearing faces of unfortunate souls facing a firing squad, the others just a little tipsy and daft-looking.

Next to brave the microphone was Harvey (one of the unfortunates), ‘Heya everyone. Hope you’re all having a grand evening, thanks for coming.’

Albert lingered at the back of the bar, strangling the neck of his pint.

‘…yeah. Uh, as most of you know, Amalie is very special to me. I couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend. It’s been nearly…ah, 4 years now.’ His eyes flicking to the left, assessing Amalie’s body language. Heavily intoxicated by this point, an acceptable smile gripped Amalie’s cheeks, one that she most definitely practised in the mirror beforehand. Harvey’s speech continued with no noticeable moments.

 

With every scheduled scan of the room during Harvey’s speech Albert simultaneously begged for Harvey’s eye contact, and callously refused it. Impatiently wrapping up his speech, Harvey passed the mic to the subsequent victim.

They both disappeared, separately (seemingly always separately), to the toilets. ‘Albert?’ whispered Harvey, with a firm hunger. The cubicle door opened to reveal Albert. Both stood still, waiting for the other to break. It soon became apparent the other would not, so Harvey moved in. Pressing his chest against Albert, he closed the off-white cubicle door behind them. Harvey’s tie pin pushed directly into the exact adjacent spot on Albert’s frail body. The pain was not worth mentioning, like the rash. Their close proximity was no match for the tension drawing one to the other. Both their lips argued, then caressed, contested, then held, teased, then mimicked. Neither of them had a choice. All whilst the external party vibrated back and forth, the perennial faceless dance continued

 
 

 

About Lachlan Bowden: 

Lachlan moved to Melbourne in the winter of 2021 to study Screen Production and Film. With a keen interest in literature, and as a way to understand his new environment, Lachlan has found creative writing to be an engaging practice.

Photo by Hà Nguyễn on Unsplash  

dead butterfly in my belly

 

by Manaswi Dawadi Rimal

I was waiting for love,

just like they said.

My tears in his handkerchief,

his tears in my letters.

His smile in the tea I made,

my smile in his essence.

Our breaths fighting with each other,

against our locked lips,

like the rivers flowing through mountains.

 

But I felt the butterflies in my stomach
when her jhumka communicated with my shirt.

The butterflies were flying inside,

when my ear heard the sound of her walk.

Her walk rhyming with her ghungru.

 

I felt the rainbow in my soul,
when her hair was fighting with that air.

Even when her voice was sharp like a chisel,
I felt like fitting into that groove.

 

When her Saree laughed with the tune of classic,

That’s when I had butterflies.

Her kajal falling through her ocean, in the form of tears.

Nothing was more magical,

like pearls turned into grey.

They were more precious than her tears.

 

And no, it was not just tea.
It was the whiskey,

the rum,
the cocaine,

running through my blood
in the form of her reminiscence,

even when she was not around.

 

What do I do now?
Neither can I tell her,

nor can I leave him.

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’
waiting for him on the white horse.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’

running towards me from the mustard field.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’

giving me his hand on the train or a bus.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM’

while he unbuttons my shirt and I submit myself.

 

But what if I want it to be her?

 

What if I run away with her on the horse,

in the plane,

in the mustard field,

riding in the train?

 

Why is it okay to do these things with him,

but not okay with her?

 

What if I want to unravel myself to her, not him?

 

The butterflies inside me have turned back into caterpillars and died,

with no hopes of being butterflies ever again, and so have I.

 

About Manaswi Dawadi Rimal:
Manaswi is a writer, adventure seeker, travel enthusiast. She is a foodie and happy go-lucky person who worked as a Bartender and Barista. She is doing her degree in Engineering and is involved in various clubs, volunteering and events.

Photo by Gursimrat Ganda on Unsplash

father, child, brother

 

by Matt Richardson

At twenty-one, he was the father of a sixteen-year-old boy. His brother. Not for any conventional reason. His parents were very much alive and both boys still lived with them. In fact, not only was he his brother’s father, but he was his mother’s best friend and his father’s confidant. He wanted to be none of those things. He wanted to be a twenty-one-year-old man, father to no one and friend to those who weren’t twice his age.

But there were some things he was unable to change. His mother’s loneliness, his father’s emotionless demeanour, his brother’s hatred. And so, he appeased each one, because without him, the family would fall apart.

For his mother, he gossiped about people he didn’t know, watched shows he hated, laughed at jokes he didn’t find funny, and spoke in the particular tone she needed. All so she wouldn’t scream at him again.

For his father, he listened to the harsh insults about his mother, passed messages between them, and let him drink in solitude and silence even when others needed him. All so that his parents’ marriage wouldn’t fall apart.

For his brother, he did everything. He got him out of bed in the mornings, forced him to school and work, made sure he ate and showered and cleaned his room. He helped his brother with homework, soothed him when he cried, helped him find a therapist, scolded him when he did something wrong. All these things he did to stop his mother and father from doing them.

If they did them, if they suddenly decided they cared about the late arrivals and school absences, the tantrums and the insults, then his brother would no longer be alive.

There were rules to follow in the house. Speak a certain way, or his mother would guilt trip him, somehow believing that a slight tone could mean that no one wanted to speak with her. Put everything back in its particular spot, or his mother would yell that he was useless. Clean and clean and clean, or his father would scream until they were both exhausted.

So, he followed those rules, staying in the house only to look after his brother. If he left and didn’t take his brother, then he would never see him again. And that was the last thing he wanted.

There was a day, halfway through a long year, where his brother became his sibling, and ‘he’ became ‘they’. He was the only one to know, because he was the only one to understand. He too, had gone through a transition, but he had been accepted by their family. He knew from the start that his sibling would not be.

His mother came to him late most nights and demanded he tell her what he talked to his sibling about. She tried to make him believe that her knowledge of their secrets would make everything better. She was manipulative and, sometimes, he wasn’t able to stay silent.

When he came home from work one day to find his sibling in a screaming match with their parents, he knew exactly what had happened. In the face of his mother’s dismissal and his father’s disgusting rage, the boy—because that’s what he felt like at that moment—took his sibling’s hand and dragged them away.

They were poor, a man in his twenties and a child who was not quite an adult, and they would struggle, but they needed solace and safety. They needed to be free from the rules and the stress. He needed a place where he didn’t have to be anyone’s best friend or confidant unless he chose to be.

And as he walked down the hallway with his bag in hand and his sibling at his side, he ignored his mother’s probing questions about what they were doing, her tears and demands. He ignored his father’s jabs and insults, his disbelief that they would actually leave.

He ignored the urge to turn around and tell them everything, just to please them, just to make everything better, because that was so much easier than what he was about to do.

He did it anyway. Bag on his back, his sibling’s hand in his, he walked out the door. He turned his back on the screams that came from the driveway and searched for a place where his sibling—his child—could be safe. A place where he could be safe too.

 

About Matt Richardson:

Matt is a first year editing student. He writes short stories and novels about queer people being queer in every kind of universe imaginable. His work has previously appeared in anthologies for TL;DR Press. Any updates on his projects, including the novels he is working on, can be found at @MattRAuthor on twitter.

Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

people’s candidate or regime’s candidate?

 
 
Anatomy of the candidates in the Iranian presidential election 2021

by Alireza Mohebbi

Iran’s thirteenth presidential election will be held on June 18, as the country grapples with several complex and challenging problems at home and abroad.

There is no shortage of challenges for the incoming president to tackle. These include the COVID 19 crisis and vaccination roll out, with official figures reporting infections numbering 2,902,094 cases and 79,939 deaths by May 30th, 2021. The unprecedented nature of COVID 19 is tragedy enough, but when it’s set against a backdrop of rising livelihood dissatisfaction over high rates of unemployment, rising prices, 39 percent inflation, and the devaluation of the national currency, the demands on a new government are overwhelming. While many nations can turn to wealthier countries for support, a series of international incidents has left Iran as an outcast to much of the world. These include the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 by two missiles of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as the development of a nuclear program that has resulted in international sanctions and the US withdrawal from the IAEA. Iran’s support for Palestinian resistance groups and Shiite militias in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Iran’s military presence in Syria, have all affected foreign policy engagement with neighbouring countries. With so many life and death issues to manage, the next president’s reign will be critical for the future of Iran.

So how will this election play out and what will the role of the president be? Iran is a theocratic country with a population of about 84 million Muslims (about 98 percent) who, according to Article 113 of the country’s Constitution, holds the president as the highest official after the Supreme Leader. The president is responsible for enforcing the Constitution and chairing the executive branch, except in matters directly related to the Leadership.

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the “Vali-ye Faqih –  ولی فقیه, or ‘guardianship of the jurist,” has the highest political and religious position in Iran – a position which can annul all decisions made by the president or other institutions of power under his government.

The process for the presidential election is not wholly transparent in Iran. The election ends with the president receiving approval from Iran`s Supreme Leader, after gaining an absolute majority of the votes cast (more than 50 percent of the vote) and approval of the election results by the Guardian Council. The approval of the Iranian President by Ali Khamenei as the Vali-ye Faqih, or ‘guardianship of the jurist’ is one of the powers of the Iran`s Supreme Leader in the Constitution, and the four-year term of the presidency in Iran begins on the date of “ratification of the credentials” by the Supreme Leader.

But let’s take a look at the process leading up to the final appointment.

 

What is the registration process for the Iranian presidential election?

According to Article 99 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Guardian Council is responsible for overseeing the President’s election. The Guardian Council, one of the important supervisory bodies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has 12 members; six of them are Faqihs (experts in Islamic Law) who are dismissed and appointed by the Iranian Supreme Leader. The other six members are lawyers selected by the judiciary chief and nominated to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (The Parliament of Iran) for a vote of confidence. In Iran, the judiciary chief is appointed by the Supreme Leader by direct decree for a five-year term.

Controversially, according to the Guardian Council, candidates must meet the following conditions to register for this presidential election.

The candidate must:

  • be between 40 and 75 years old.
  • have a minimum master’s degree or equivalent approved by the Ministries of Science, Research and Technology and Health, Treatment and Medical Education, or the Seminary Management Center.
  • have a four-year history of ministries, governorates, or municipalities in cities with more than two million population.
  • be one of the directors of seminaries or of Islamic Azad University (private university in Iran).
  • be a member of the Expediency Discernment Council or the Supreme National Security Council.
  • be the deputy head of one of the three branches (executive branch, legislature, judiciary).
  • be from the heads of governmental organizations, institutions, and public non-governmental institutions at the national level.
  • And, if they are in the military, they should be high-ranking commanders of the armed forces with general and higher ranks.

During this period of the presidential election, 592 people registered with the Ministry of Interior, and finally, the Guardian Council approved the eligibility of seven of them as final candidates to participate in the Iranian presidential election.

 

 

Who are the final candidates?

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Masoud Shahrestani

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi

The 50-year-old Doctor, the fundamentalist politician, is the first vice-president in the eleventh term of the Islamic Consultative Assembly. He is the youngest candidate in this period of the Iranian presidential election.

He was also a member of parliament in the eighth, ninth, and tenth terms. He is a member of the Central Council of the Sustainability Front and was its spokesman in 2013 and 2014.

The Stability Front of the Islamic Revolution, known as the Stability Front, is an Iranian fundamentalist political group made up of conservative

fundamentalist extremists. The core of this group is formed by some former ministers of the ninth and tenth governments (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet).

His long serving high ranking career in parliament positions him as a willing parrot of the Supreme Leader. This is evident through the anti-Israel rhetoric which is aimed to demonstrate that he is loyal to the regime.

Following recent tensions and clashes between Israel and Palestine, Ghazizadeh Hashemi said in a statement: “We will soon see the collapse of the Zionist regime.”

This recent statement by Ghazizadeh Hashemi as the Iran’s presidential candidate, refers to Ali Khamenei’s remarks during a challenging speech on September 9, 2015.

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran said in his speech to Israel: “You will not exist for another 25 years.”

 

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Mahmoud Rahimi (MEHRNEWS Agency)

Abdolnaser Hemmati

The 64-year-old is a moderate politician and former governor of the Central Bank of Iran.

He has a doctorate in economics. From 1980 to 1993, he was active in the Iranian state radio and television and held important positions such as the political deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

During the eight-year Iran-Iraq war (September 1980 – August 1988), he was in charge of the war propaganda staff. From 1994 to 2006, he was the General Director of the Central Insurance of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Chairman of the Supreme Insurance Council.

Before he was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he headed Sina Bank (seven years) and Melli Bank (three years) for a total of ten years.

Also, during his tenure as Governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the US Treasury Department on October 8, 2020, sanctioned eighteen Iranian banks for supporting terrorist activities and Iran’s nuclear program.

Rising inflation and liquidity, the devaluation of the national currency, and the turmoil in the Iranian stock market are main economic problems during Hemmati’s presidency of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, leading to many criticisms of his performance which heavily impacts his chances winning this election.

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Hossein Zohrevand

Saeed Jalili

The 55-year-old is a fundamentalist politician, a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, and a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader in the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He lost his right leg during an eight-year Iran-Iraq war in a military operation.

In October 2007, he was elected Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran in the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Former Iranian President). He attended the nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 group (United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France plus Germany).

A trusted figure in the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he was selected as Iran’s nuclear negotiator based on his background in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, during Saeed Jalili’s tenure in the Iranian nuclear case, Unprecedented sanctions were imposed on Iran by the United Nations Security Council, the United States, and the European Union, which negatively affected foreign exchange earnings, oil sales, and banking sanctions.

Jalili ran in the eleventh presidential election in 2013 but failed to win, eventually coming in third with about 4.6 million votes.

He ran in that presidential election under the slogan “A Pleasant Life – Hayat Tayyeba – حیات طیبه,” which is inspired by Islamic thought, and his campaign staff included members of extremist groups such as Ansar Hezbollah (close to the Basij and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Majid Khani

Mohsen Mehralizadeh

The 64-year-old reformist politician, vice president, and head of the Physical Education Organization was in the cabinet of Mohammad Khatami (the eighth government of the Islamic Republic of Iran) from November 2001 to September 2005.

He was previously the governor of Khorasan for four years, from 1997 to 2001.

Mohsen Mehralizadeh entered the ninth presidential election campaign in 2005 as a candidate of the reformist faction. He was initially disqualified by the Guardian Council but was re-approved on appeal by the decree of Iran`s Supreme Leader.

Mehralizadeh came in fourth in the 2005 presidential election with 1.29 million votes.

After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Mehralizadeh formed the Islamic Revolution Committees in the city of Maragheh (in the province of East Azerbaijan). The committee was responsible for enforcing Islamic rules and ethical standards of social behavior in Iran.

He also participated in forming the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Maragheh city) and held its command from 1979 to 1981.

He is currently the President of the International Zurkhaneh Sports Federation. His presence on the third day of the registration of candidates for the thirteenth presidential election on May 13, 2021, with his two grandchildren (one of whom wore the uniform of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) caught the attention of news photographers.

According to experts, his presence and confirmation in this period of the presidential election is only as an excuse to increase the turnout among voters who still believe in reform for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although he will have no place in power and has no hope of winning the election, the regime is using every means to get people to the polls, even in exchange for the approval of a second- or third-class reformist candidate.

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Mohammad Reza Abbasi

Ebrahim Raisi

The 60-year-old is an Islamic fundamentalist cleric and the current Chief of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His presence in the Iranian judiciary dates back to 1980.

Raisi has been a high-ranking Iranian judicial official since the 1980s, and his presence on a “four-member execution board” known as the “Death Commission” is one of the dark spots in his case.

In August and September 1988, thousands of political and ideological prisoners were tried without the presence of a lawyer and often within minutes, by order of Ruhollah Khomeini, the former Iranian Supreme Leader, and were executed en masse and secretly.

Ebrahim Raisi, as a deputy prosecutor of Tehran, was a member of the death commission that, after asking a few questions about the prisoners’ political and religious beliefs, decided whether to execute or keep them alive.

With the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and the beginning of the leadership of Ali Khamenei, Ebrahim Raisi was not only not questioned for the executions in the summer of 1988 but also continued to be promoted in the judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran and held positions such as Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, Head of the National Inspection Organization and the first deputy head of the judiciary.

His performance in the Iranian judiciary led to the US Treasury Department’s taking action on November 4, 2019, against nine individuals close to Ali Khamenei, including Ebrahim Raisi, for human rights abuses and internal repression.

His close relationship with the Iran`s Supreme Leader and his trust in Ebrahim Raisi led to his appointment to the post of Astan Quds Razavi on March 7, 2016, with the ruling of Ali Khamenei.

Astan Quds Razavi is a religious-economic institution responsible for managing the shrine of the Eighth Shiite Imam, collecting vows, and managing the property and economic enterprises affiliated with it. This institution is one of the largest economic enterprises in Iran, which has been exempted from paying taxes by order of Ayatollah Khomeini (the First Supreme Leader of Iran).

Ebrahim Raisi ran for the twelfth presidential election in 2017 but lost the race to incumbent President Hassan Rouhani.

About a year and a half later, on March 7, 2019, Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi as the Chief of the Iranian judiciary. Four years after losing the previous presidential election, Ebrahim Raisi has re-emerged to try his luck again.

The Conservative-backed candidate, a close ally of the Iranian leader, has high hopes of being elected Iran’s eighth president in an election in which the Guardian Council has disqualified countless candidates.

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: Maryam Kamyab

Mohsen Reza’i

The 66-year-old is a military commander and secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council.

In 1980, with the ruling of Ruhollah Khomeini (First Iranian Supreme Leader), he was appointed as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander and worked in this position for sixteen years until 1997.

The IRGC’s conflicts with the Islamic Republic of Iran Army and its performance in commanding various operations during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) when he was as commander of the Revolutionary Guards were widely criticized.

Mohsen Reza’i entered the world of politics after 1997 and was appointed secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council by the ruling of the Iran`s Supreme Leader. Mohsen Reza’i holds the record for running in the most presidential elections.

He ran in the ninth presidential election in 2005 but resigned before the election. He ran in the tenth and eleventh presidential elections in 2009 and 2013 and lost.

Reza’i was absent from the twelfth election but is running again in the thirteenth presidential election, seeking his presidential dream. However, it seems unlikely that he will have a chance to become president.

Ahmad Reza`i, his eldest son, fled to the United States in 1998 and criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was assassinated on November 13, 2011, at the Gloria Hotel in Dubai.

Mohsen Reza`i was placed on the US Treasury Department’s sanctions list on January 10, 2020, following the US government’s announcement of involvement in the 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community in Argentina, resulting in the deaths of 85 people.

Mohsen Reza`i was listed as wanted by Interpol (International Police) on March 2007 at the request of the Argentine government on charges of involvement in the explosion of the Jewish Aid Center (bombing of AMIA as the then commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

His remarks in July 2013 on the issue of military aggression and conflict with the United States were highly controversial. Reza’i said: “If the Americans want to have a bad eye on Iran and think of a military strike, they can be sure that we will capture at least 1,000 Americans in the first week, and then they will have to pay billions of dollars to free each of them and we will solve the economic problem of the country.”

 

people's candidate or regime's candidate?

Source: M.Hossein Movahedinejad

Alireza Zakani

The 55-year-old fundamentalist politician represents Qom (Iran’s religious capital) in the eleventh term of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (The Parliament of Iran) and heads the Islamic Parliament Research Center of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

With the start of the Iran-Iraq War, Zakani went to the battlefields and participated in the Irregular Warfare Headquarters. He was wounded in battle.

Alireza Zakani was in charge of the Student Basij Organisation of the University of Tehran, the mosque administration of the University of Tehran (for four years), the Student Basij Organisation of the universities of Tehran province, and was in charge of the Student Basij Organisation of Iran.

The Student Basij Organisation -سازمان بسیج دانشجویی  was founded based on the decree of the first Iran`s Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini on 23 November 1988. This organization is a subset of the Basij Organization (one of the paramilitary organizations and a subset of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

Zakani represented the people of Tehran in the seventh, eighth, and ninth terms of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

Alireza Zakani registered for the eleventh (2013) and twelfth (2017) presidential elections in Iran but was disqualified by the Guardian Council in both.

According to many critical experts, this rejection and approval of credentials in different periods is a tool of pressure done by the Guardian Council (by order of Iran`s Supreme Leader).

Some experts believe that before the election, Alireza Zakani may withdraw from the election in favour of the main representative of the Conservative Party, Ebrahim Raisi, as a close pro-government observer. If Ebrahim Raisi wins the Presidential election, Zakani will likely be elected as one of his cabinet ministers.

 

What next?

One of the important events of the thirteenth Iranian presidential election so far is the disqualifications of the Guardian Council regarding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (former President of Iran from August 2005 to August 2013), Ali Larijani (Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly from 2008 to 2020) and Eshaq Jahangiri (First Vice President since 2013).

The seven qualified candidates will have 20 days from May 28 to June 16, 2021, to carry out their activities and election campaigns throughout Iran. The thirteenth presidential election in Iran will be held on Friday, June 18, 2021.

Experts believe that due to the complexities and problems in Iran’s domestic and foreign policy – including increasing public dissatisfaction with the government, severe economic and livelihood problems, the COVID 19 crisis, and the ambiguous status of Iran’s nuclear program – turnout will be at an all-time low compared to previous elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some polls in Iran, including the Student Opinion Polling Centre (ISPA), put the current turnout at 36 percent.

During the eleventh term of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (The Parliament of Iran) on February 21, 2020, only 42.57 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, with the lowest turnout (after the second round of municipal council elections in February 2003) in the post-revolutionary history of the Islamic Revolution since 1979.

Whether some consider the Iranian election a premeditated and engineered election or others see it as a blind hope for choosing between bad and worse, on June 18, 2021, the Islamic Republic of Iran will recognize its eighth president. The President could be considered the most outward facing showcase figure of the regime which is approved by the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic of Iran at this time.

 

 

Alireza Mohebbi

HDR Candidate

Schools of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities

Swinburne University of Technology

Twitter: @alirezambb

 

Feature image source: Borna Ghasemi