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Recognizing Raisi as Iran’s President Fuels Impunity Over Human Rights Violations

Raisi, Butcher of 1988 Massacre in Iran

The Iranian regime’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, was inaugurated today. Many international human rights organizations have called for Raisi’s prosecution for his human rights abuses. Yet, Enrique Mora, the Deputy Political Director of the European External Action Service, participated in Raisi’s inauguration today. 

Raisi dubbed the “Butcher of Tehran,” was a member of Tehran’s “Death Commission” during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. Raisi and his fellow “Death Commission” members sent thousands of political prisoners to the gallows. 

Reacting to Mora’s planned visit to Iran, Amnesty International stated: “The international community, including the EU, which is sending Enrique Mora to Raisi’s inauguration, must publicly demonstrate its commitment to fight against systematic impunity in Iran for extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.” 

Amnesty underlined that “Crimes against humanity loom large over Ebrahim Raisi’s inauguration as president of Iran. We continue to call for him to be criminally investigated for his role in past and ongoing crimes against humanity related to the 1988 massacre.” 

During his first press conference after his selection as the regime’s new president, Raisi blatantly said he should be “rewarded” for his career. Recognizing Raisi as Iran’s representative and shaking hands with him is the approval of this criminal and indeed a reward for his crimes against humanity. 

His presidency, as underlined by the Amnesty Secretary-General, Agnes Callamard, on June 19, “is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.” By participating in Raisi’s inauguration or pursuing negotiations with him, the European Union is fortifying this impunity. 

The international community’s failure in holding Raisi and other perpetrators of the 1988 massacre to account has led to systematic impunity in Iran, where mass murderers like Raisi are rewarded instead of being prosecuted.  

Seven United Nations human rights experts underlined in their letter published in December 2020 that this failure “had a devastating impact on the survivors and families” and “emboldened” the Iranian authorities to “conceal the fate of the victims and to maintain a strategy of deflection and denial.”  

UN experts call for investigation of 1988 Massacre in Iran - December 2020

The murder and torture of protesters in November 2019 also took place under Raisi’s watch are part of the devastating impact of the international community’s failure to hold Raisi and his ilk to account.  

Raisi is under sanctions for his human rights abuses. Khamenei chose him as the regime’s next president so Raisi could serve Khamenei, suppress protests and dissidents, and keep the mullahs’ regime afloat. 

When in October 2020, the EU adopted its new “Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime,” the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell underlined that the efforts to defend human rights should go “beyond” legislations and resolution.  

By sending his deputy to Raisi’s inauguration Borrell and the EU are not only staying behind their human rights values and the Global Sanctions Regime, but they are also indeed justifying the systematic human rights abuses in Iran.  

The international community, mainly the European Union, should not recognize Raisi as Iran’s president. They should call for his prosecution and lead an international investigation into the 1988 massacre and the forced disappearance and killing of thousands of Iranians within the last 42 years.