The lead-up to the presidential election in Iran got underway this week, following the disqualification of several reformist hopefuls which left staunch hardline candidates as front-runners in the race.

The selection process — which many in Iran view as unfair and discriminatory — and the government’s ongoing economic mismanagement of the country, internal corruption and oppressive policies, have led to growing calls on social media by Iranians in the country to boycott the election.

The US State Department and Human Rights Watch denounced the nomination of Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is also the presidential candidate favored by the regime, accusing the judge of approving mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s.

Iran may lose its right to vote at the United Nations, after the country failed to pay money owed for the body’s operating budget. Iran — which is more than  16 million dollars in arrears at the UN — said its inability to pay the money was because of US sanctions barring such transfers.

Under terms set out in the UN Charter, members whose arrears equal or exceed previous contributions in the last two years can lose their right to vote, but disqualification can be stayed and a country can continue to vote, if a failure to pay arises out of conditions beyond the state’s control.

And a press conference featuring the detained human rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi, on social media app ClubHouse, offered a platform for women who had been sexually harassed inside Iran’s prisons to talk about their experiences.

During the conference, Mohammadi said Iranian prison officials routinely used sexual abuse and harassment to crush the will of women in jail, and that she herself had been a victim of sexual harassment in an Iranian prison. Nobel Prize winner and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi also attended the ClubHouse room.

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