SINGAPORE – Iranian students in Singapore are calling on their government to hold another presidential election.
About 70 Iranian graduate students held a protest Friday in downtown Singapore to denounce what they called a fraudulent presidential election at home. Masked students from Nanyang Technical University and National University of Singapore held signs alleging human rights abuses by the Iranian government.
The protesters also called on Iran to stop violence against demonstrators protesting the disputed election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week.
The brief protest was held at “Speaker’s Corner,” where Singapore allows some public demonstrations that are banned elsewhere on the island city-state.
MORE than 50 Iranian citizens turned up at the Speaker’s Corner on Friday to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claiming electoral fraud.
Many of the demonstrators – a mix of students and expatriates – wore green in support of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Others dressed in black to mourn the protesters killed in Iran in the clashes that followed the election.
Some of those at the protest at Speakers’ Corner wore masks – a symbol of the lack of free speech in their home country, said the organiser, a post-graduate student at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) who wanted to be known just as Mr Hossain.
Many also held up signs suggesting electoral fraud. They also sang the Iranian national anthem.
Mr Hossain said: “The community here was shocked by the results. We had high hopes for the outcome because of the unprecedented turnout … But the government doesn’t have the support of the majority and that is why they have to cheat.”
More than 260 Iranians in Singapore voted in the June 12 elections, he added. The official results of the polls were rejected by all three opposition candidates, who claimed that the votes were manipulated and the election rigged.
Yesterday’s gathering at Speakers’ Corner was especially emotional for one 24-year-old man. “I heard that one of my friends died in the protests in Tehran,” said the NTU mechanical engineering post-graduate, who declined to be named.
“Although state media has said only eight people have died, I have been receiving word from home that more than 40 people have died and almost 1,000 people arrested in the clashes”.
The crowd – which started to gather at 4pm – dispersed at around 6pm.