Even though prior to this year’s February 11 anniversary rally for the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979 some military commanders had announced that Basij para-military forces and Revolutionary Guardsmen had been mobilized to participate in the celebrations marking the event, the leader of the Islamic republic proclaimed that he was told that “This year’s events were more populous, more enthusiastic and happier than previous years.”
Talking a few days after the event to a group of people whom Iranian news agencies called “the people of East Azerbaijan,” ayatollah Khamenei is reported to have called this year’s anniversary rally a “lesson” for the nation and officials. “Everybody said this year’s massive march of the Iranian nation on February 11 was larger than previous years and more impassioned in Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Mashhad and other large cities. But why? Because this year the Iranian nation felt that their country, system, and Islam needed their participation,” he said. He asserted that reports to him indicated that “tens of millions” of people had participated in the marches, and added, “Those who should have received the message got it. Those who were cultivating ideas for the Iranian nation in their alcohol-infected minds now understand what is going on in Iran.”
A few weeks prior to the February 11 march, ayatollah Khamenei had foretold that “with God’s grace and guidance, everybody would see how the Iranian nation come to the scene.” Prior to the ten-day celebrations culminating in the February 11 march, a number of Revolutionary Guard commanders had confessed that they had made plans to mobilize their forces to participate in the celebrations.
On January 30, for example, Guards commander general Ahmad Zolghadr said, “We have organized 1.5 million paramilitary Basij forces to participate in the anniversary events: 2,000 resistance units, 22 districts and 400 precincts in Tehran are ready to implement projects for the celebrations.” He continued, “We view February 11 as a referendum on the regime and shall participate in it with full force so that the enemies of the revolution will be discouraged.”
Turning to the forthcoming March elections, ayatollah Khamenei said, “People’s participation in the elections can take the country forward and protect it from the evil of its enemies and make the enemy retreat,” and once again concluded, “An enthusiastic election is a hard punch in the mouth of the enemy.”
The head of the Experts Assembly on Leadership ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Kani also recently predicted that “a massive” number of people participated in the government-sponsored February 11 anniversary demonstrations and would also participate “extensively” in the forthcoming Majlis elections.
Reformers and protestors to the massively disputed 2009 presidential elections have expressly announced that they would not participate in the March 2 Majlis elections. Immediately after the 2009 presidential voting, reformers had chosen to participate in government-sponsored events which they used to express their protests but they changed their strategy in 2010 and embarked on the policy of refraining from joining any government public events. Protestors to the 2009 elections, including the leaders of the Green Movement Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, have charged Ahmadinejad’s administration and the agencies under the control of the supreme leader of the country to have committed “fraud and manipulation in people’s votes,” something they have maintained till now.