Fifty political dissidents in West Azarbaijan province posting calls online for a boycott of upcoming elections have been arrested, according to Iranian officials.

The news comes ahead of voting on Friday for Iran’s parliament and the Assembly of Experts in what is being criticised as a “stage-managed” mockery of democracy.

West Azerbaijan police force commander Rahim Jahanbakhsh told the hardliner-linked Mehr news agency on Wednesday: “They were moderators of some pages in the cyberspace.” He did not identify the detainees or give details of their webpages.

Any calls to boycott the upcoming elections will be dealt with, he threatened.

Located in northwestern Iran, West Azerbaijan province is bordered by Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Urmia is the capital and largest city of the province which is home to both Azeri and Kurdish ethnicities.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Cyber-Police (FATA) issued a warning regarding online political activities ahead of the elections.

FATA Chief Vahid Majid said, “Violations in the virtual sphere are being addressed to stop the elections from being marred by inaccurate content.”

Political activists, opposition parties and large sections of the public have pledged to boycott the elections.

Earlier in the month, Narges Mohammadi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and imprisoned human rights activist, denounced the upcoming elections as “staged managed.”

“I, along with the people, will aim to declare the Islamic Republic’s lack of legitimacy and the oppressive regime’s rift with the people by sanctioning the theatrical elections,” read a statement shared on her local media accounts.

Over the past weeks, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has repeatedly made fervent appeals for voter turnout.

Source » iranintl