A stolen election, but where’s the proof?

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I’ve watched with great curiosity the coverage of the Iranian elections and their aftermath in recent days waiting for a report that actually outlines just how, where and why the election result might have been stolen.

And yet the lack of this has left me with major doubts about the legitimacy of the protests in Tehran and cities across the Islamic Republic.

Clearly the crackdown on protesting is not legitimate when people are dying as a result. From the Tweet-ing, Facebook-ing and YouTube-ing the extent of the government’s lockdown on communications and intimidation of their people is clear and it is not right.

The US and Britain are right to condemn the conduct of the Iranian government in this regard but they are also right to refrain from passing judgement on the actual election result because the truth is, there appears to be no hard evidence to contradict the official results which gave victory to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now I am not naive enough to believe that Ahmadinejad won two-thirds of the vote as the official results state. A journalist friend of mine who visited Iran earlier in the year was struck by the amount of young people who had a real desire for change and Ahmadinejad was not as popular in his own country as he had us believe.

However his anti-American, anti-Israel rhetoric did have unquestionable support in many circles so his approval ratings cannot have been at George W Bush levels.

The truth is the election result was probably much tighter but whether it gave victory to Ahmadinejad or his main rival, the ‘defeated’ Mir Hossein Mousavi is just not clear.

There has been a great acclaim for the power of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in getting across the material major news outlets are finding it increasingly harder to gather themselves thanks to the meddling of the Iranian Interior Ministry.

But if angry voters are so keen to show the world what’s going in their country right now why aren’t they showing us the proof of voter intimidation, vote rigging, stolen ballot boxes or all three? In an election where 85% of the 70 million population turned out to vote surely there are some if not many who can testify to dodgy practices?

The hugely influential Guardian Council say they are investigating 646 complaints from the three defeated candidates, Mousavi among them, and they will hear their arguments at the weekend.

I’m intrigued to hear what these arguments are and what proof will be presented to back them up because at he moment the lack of hard evidence regarding these elections is as stunning as pictures like this one:

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Twitter and the Twestival

TwestivalBack in February users of the website Twitter gathered in Liverpool for the first ever ‘Twestival’, a very alternative festival.

In case you didn’t know, Twitter is a micro blogging website where you update the world, or at least those following you on the site, on your latest activities in 140 characters or less, similar to your Facebook status.

It has gained notoriety thanks to its famous British users. Actor, comedian and author Stephen Fry ‘tweets’ about his latest activities on a daily, sometimes hourly, almost unhealthy basis as does Jonathan Ross when he’s not offending the nation.

 From Twitter emerged the ‘Twestival’ an idea hatched by a group of ordinary London based Twitter users with the idea of bringing ‘twitterers’ worldwide together in order to raise money for Charity Water which aims to supply clean drinking water to the third world.

So on February 12th, 185 ‘Twestivals’ were held worldwide from Dubai to New York. Liverpool was just one of the venues where organiser Mandy Phillips got a surprisingly positive response: “I’ve been amazed by the generosity of people on Twitter from the Liverpool area,” she said prior to the event.

“It’s about that community thing but it’s also about that virtual network where your talking to people who you wouldn’t know if you met them on the street and then making that real. I can’t describe how important that is.”

Around 80 people attended the event at the city’s Leaf Café on Parliament Street with live music, DJ, auctions and raffles helping to raise over £500 which will contribute to the cost of building a well in the third world.

Stephen Fry even contributed some of his own personal belongings in aid of the event as Phillips explained: “He sent me an Oscar Wilde book that he wrote the foreword for and signed and he also sent me two pairs of his socks. I think they were used, they’re not smelly but they’re definitely worn!”

As for the chances of Fry giving up his used socks up for another ‘Twestival’ next year, Phillips added: “We’ll see what Twestival decides to do because it might be a one off from their point of view so we’ll just wait and see.”

 

Meet the Twitterers

Adam Yaffe, photography company director, on Twitter’s addictiveness:

“I didn’t realise it would become an addiction but it has! Because I have the application on my iPhone I use it more and more. Suddenly I’ve realised that I need to keep using it in case I miss something so it’s become part of my life.”

Kieran Lamb, librarian at Liverpool Primary Care Trust, on Twitter in the work place:

“We use Twitter in work to send messages to the users about what we’re doing during the day so it can be a good work tool but it can be a bit of fun as well. It’s one of those things that you go through phases with it but I think we’re increasingly using it as a way of communicating with other library folks.”

Dominique Aspay, a Twitter newcomer:

“Only in the last week or so have I started getting into Twitter, just out of curiosity really. Now I use it every day. I find it’s getting addictive with my updates becoming more and more inane!”

Thom Shannon, media company director, on Twitter’s news value: 

“I’m on it all day. It gets addictive, it depends who you follow but it can become a feed of information you can’t get anywhere else. Most of the breaking news I find out on Twitter before anywhere else has it.”