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Willisms

« Quotational Therapy: Part 20 -- Barry Goldwater, On Freedom. | WILLisms.com | Look Left, Look Right, The Blogosphere Is Out Of Sight. »

Iran's Election.

Wandered over to Publius Pundit early this morning, and found this post explaining that Iranians in America can vote at polling locations (.pdf) around the country.

So I wandered over to the Houston Ramada (phone # 713-688-2222) to do a little sleuthing and ALMOST GOT ARRESTED! They took my license and were prepared to book me, but I convinced them that would be a terrible mistake, they would look bad, etc.

Still: Absurd.

The Iranian regime had paid a pretty penny for the hotel's protection. But I talked to some Iranian dissidents on film, some of whom were petrified at the notion of being on camera. Literally, frightened by what may happen to them and their families.

But one woman in particular was willing to stand up and be heard. She said she was even willing to endure torture if they sent agents after her. Freedom in Iran meant that much to her. Another asked me, "don't you realize how dangerous it is, what you're doing? They could kill you."

I told her not to worry about that. She was one who did not want to appear on film. I will carefully edit her out of the sequences.

I will try to have the video up as soon as I can figure out the technology. If someone wants to help with that, let me know. Video is crazy on the bandwidth eating. Maybe I will just post pictures with transcripts.

Before heading over there, I was, honestly, a smidge skeptical of the claims made by the Iranian freedom websites (they are pretty intense claims, after all).

Please forgive me. Please, please forgive me. I now understand fully just what a sham these elections are. These elections are fraudulent, unfree, and unfair. For now, I leave you with the statement issued by the White House:

In recent months, the cause of freedom has made enormous gains in the broader Middle East. Millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq defied terrorists to cast their ballots in free elections. Palestinians voted for a new president who rejects violence and is working for democratic reform, and the people of Lebanon reclaimed their sovereignty and are now voting for new leadership. Across the Middle East, hopeful change is taking place. People are claiming their liberty. And as a tide of freedom sweeps this region, it will also come eventually to Iran.

The Iranian people are heirs to a great civilization - and they deserve a government that honors their ideals and unleashes their talent and creativity. Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.

The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record. Iran's rulers denied more than a thousand people who put themselves forward as candidates, including popular reformers and women who have done so much for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.

The Iranian people deserve a genuinely democratic system in which elections are honest - and in which their leaders answer to them instead of the other way around. The Iranian people deserve a truly free and democratic society with a vibrant free press that informs the public and ensures transparency. They deserve freedom of assembly, so Iranians can gather and press for reform and a peaceful, loyal opposition can keep the government in check. They deserve a free economy that delivers opportunity and prosperity and economic independence from the state. They deserve an independent judiciary that will guarantee the rule of law and ensure equal justice for all Iranians. And they deserve a system that guarantees religious freedom, so that they can build a society in which compassion and tolerance prevail.

Today, the Iranian regime denies all these rights. It shuts down independent newspapers and websites and jails those who dare to challenge the corrupt system. It brutalizes its people and denies them their liberty.

America believes in the independence and territorial integrity of Iran. America believes in the right of the Iranian people to make their own decisions and determine their own future. America believes that freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul. And to the Iranian people, I say: As you stand for your own liberty, the people of America stand with you.

Standing with the freedom-loving people of Iran!

UPDATE:

Some screen captures, for now:

The luxurious Ramada Hotel, on Interstate 10 in Houston-
ramada.gif

Election sign-
iranelection.gif

Shara Shirvani, pro-freedom Iranian -
sharashirvani.gif

Denied entry-
noentry.gif

A dissident: "...you guys [police officers] are doing something against President Bush..."-
freeiranian.gif

Another anti-regime Iranian, frightened, but brave: "I don't see any democracy in Iran"-
iraniandissident.gif

Uh oh, kicked out-
kickedout.gif

Leaving the hotel, gonna take one last crack at it-
willfranklin.gif

One last shot at talking to the Iranian agents-
iranianagent.gif

[Re-entry into the hotel (through a different door) was nearly grounds for an arrest on criminal trespassing charges.]

Me: "Is this a free and fair election?"
regimeagent.gif

I guess not (at this point, the police officers ran down the hall after me). They took my information and called it in (I guess to see if they could arrest me on any kind of outstanding warrant), but they came around after some Jedi mind tricks.

Will post transcripts and brief clips soon.

Also going to try to do a follow-up interview with Ms. Shirvani.

UPDATE 2:

Calling Ramada and getting hung up on, time and time again: 713-688-2222. They put a Houston P.D. officer (Officer Cram, Badge # 906) on the phone to tell me calling them again and again (even though they kept hanging up on me) was harrassment. He also told me it was paid for by the Iranian government. I told him it was not a legal poll, because the U.S. does not have diplomatic ties to Iran and considers that nation a terrorist regime.

He said: "Well, in these United States it is legal. Otherwise they wouldn't be allowing it."

Idiot.

UPDATE 3:

Local NBC affiliate is allegedly going to go check it out.

UPDATE 4:

Gateway Pundit reports on the underwhelming polling station in St. Louis.

This will be the final update on this thread. Forthcoming updates will be new topics.

UPDATE 5:

Okay, just kidding. That wasn't the final update. But in all fairness to myself, this update is just to indicate that there's video in a new post.

UPDATE 6:

Click here for a richer narrative on Iran's sham election in Houston.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 June 2005 01:36 PM

Comments

Wow man! you almost got arrested? This is in Houston Texas? Amazing stuff! Freedom and Democracy is worth fighting for! God bless those people!

Posted by: Dave at June 17, 2005 01:59 PM

That is some intense blogging! ... Way to go Willisms.com

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 17, 2005 02:12 PM

Video: Get a Mac. Right now. I'm serious. It doesn't have to be hard. Open iMovieHD. Edit the clips. Drag them into the order you want. Add sound effects, etc. Export as a Quicktime movie at whatever size and format you want. The smaller the easier to deal with. Pay Apple the $60 or so per year for a .mac account and let them (and akamai) deal with the bandwidth issues.

example

Posted by: Robbie at June 17, 2005 02:28 PM

Good Jedi mind tricks! ... That is really so sad that they are not being allowed to vote! I am so glad you got this on video and investigated the ordeal! ...Keep up the good work Will!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 17, 2005 03:34 PM

Are those policemen or security officers? If HPD is preventing them from voting, there is really something wrong with this picture! This is such a violation against basic human rights... We Americans have it so good and we don't even realize how good!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 17, 2005 03:58 PM

You almost got arrested just for exposing a fake election lolololol. Just thank god you were in Houston and not in Tehran, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Abdiel Lawrence at June 17, 2005 04:00 PM

I just called NEWS 2 Houston! We shall see if they can get to the bottom of it? If HPD is preventing these individuals from voting they are going to have some explaining to do!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 17, 2005 04:20 PM

Maybe you could use the Google video upload program to distribute it ;-)

Posted by: Emil at June 17, 2005 04:28 PM

Hello!... What is going on? Will Franklin of WILLisms.com almost got arrested?... For exposing a rigged election?... I called that # at the Ramada Houston and asked for the address. The exact address is>>>> 7611 KATY FREEWAY... I hope someone exposes the heck out of this story! Be careful Will...! We love our WILLisms.com ... You don't want to become a felon and have to VOTE LIKE A DEMOCRAT!

Posted by: Cindy T. at June 17, 2005 04:37 PM

Will Franklikn please be careful!... That is a terrorist regime you are dealing with!... That is rather odd that the HPD was protecting them! Do they have any idea what they are doing? Duhhhhh! Get a clue houston police department!!!!! The Ramada are they aware of what they are doing?

Posted by: MOM at June 17, 2005 05:24 PM

wtf is the fbi and the cia doing right now those incompetent fkn boobs. I swear our government is ignorant if they're just this happen.

Posted by: Brady at June 17, 2005 05:42 PM

Great interviews, thanks for sharing.

No matter how many times I see it, I'm still amazed people have this kind of bravery.

But one woman in particular was willing to stand up and be heard. She said she was even willing to endure torture if they sent agents after her. Freedom in Iran meant that much to her. Another asked me, "don't you realize how dangerous it is, what you're doing? They could kill you."

Could you or I be that brave? I don’t know if I could.

These people deserve their freedom.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 08:07 PM

Excellent original reporting, Will.

Posted by: GaijinBiker at June 17, 2005 08:44 PM

Good job.

If you need someone to host the video, I have space and bandwidth to burn. I can do some of the editing, but I live on the east coast and can;t come there to do it. Contact me at my email address if you want to work out the details.

Posted by: J. Fielek at June 17, 2005 08:52 PM

Good job.

If you need someone to host the video, I have space and bandwidth to burn. I can do some of the editing, but I live on the east coast and can;t come there to do it. Contact me at my email address if you want to work out the details.

Posted by: J. Fielek at June 17, 2005 08:57 PM

News 2 Houston as far as I could tell was more interested in a rock that looked like Jay Leno and Cohnan O'Brian being sold on EBay... Kind of makes you wonder!...Hmmm...I didn't hear them say a word about the Iran election what so ever! ...We have security at the airport frisking little 90 year old ladies and yet we have HPD enabling and protecting a terrorist regime!...There is definately something wrong with this picture! Especially when someone is trying to warn a Houston Hotel that they are hosting a terrorist regime and the front desk clerk continues to hang up the phone! Who knows what and who they will blow up!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 18, 2005 07:38 AM

Excellent work; I'm compiling a post on my own blog right now. I hope to get a full catalog of what's been going on inside Iran (both in reality and what Iranian officials claim), and am working on contacting the hotels listed for Ohio. From those pictures, it looked like those security guys were Americans; are they? Are they private security officers, or actual police, or professional Iranian thugs.

Posted by: Chris Edwards at June 18, 2005 01:05 PM

These polling places are against the law! Period!
I know SMCCDI wrote the White House about the regime setting up polling places here.
What the F#ck!?

Posted by: chester at June 18, 2005 01:24 PM

while even the Islamic Republic insiders are claiming the election results to be blatant fraud, the foreign media is just repeating the Guardian Council figures:

http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2005&m=06&d=19&a=1

Posted by: potkin azarmehr at June 19, 2005 02:58 PM

I know alot of people who would be willing to pay your legal fees, if you had been arrested! Good work my man.

Posted by: Dave at June 19, 2005 06:40 PM