September 12 marks the first anniversary of the execution of Iran’s wrestling champion Navid Afkari. Yet, on September 20, the world community would allow a man involved in his execution, Ebrahim Raisi, to address the United Nations, General Assembly.
Navid Afkari was arrested during the major Iran protests in 2018 in Kazeroun along with his two brothers. Navid was falsely accused of killing a security guard based on a confession extracted under the month of torture. Navid had denied having killed the security guard and appealed to the Judiciary.
Yet, Ebrahim Raisi, then-Judiciary Chief, declined the appeal. Navid was executed without receiving the due processes and despite international outcries against his execution.
Now a year after Navid’s execution, all evidence suggests that his two brothers would have a harsh time.
According to his lawyer, the regime’s Supreme court rejected a retrial requested by political prisoner Vahid Afkari. The lawyer of the Afkari brothers, Saeid Dehghan, wrote on Twitter that despite the contradictions in the case, the 38th branch of the Supreme Court rejected their requested retrial.
“Even if they had just skimmed through the case document, there were enough legal reasons to accept a retrial as the verdict contains 24 contradictions and three lies,” Dehghan tweeted.
Mistreating political prisoners, killing them secretly, and violating international norms, has been the regime’s modus-operandi. Raisi, now the regime’s president, has been known for fully implementing the regime’s doctrine in dealing with prisoners of conscience.
He started his career in the regime as a prosecutor in the 1980s and issued many death sentences. His level of criminality reached its height in the summer of 1988 when he participated in the massacre of political prisoners as a member of the so-called “death commission” in Tehran.
Raisi’s dark human rights record helped him become the Supreme Leader’s favorite candidate for the presidency.
When Raisi was selected as the regime’s new president on June 19, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”
The supremacy of “impunity” in Iran has devastating effects on the general human rights situation. In a letter published in December, seven UN human rights experts, including Ms. Callamard, underlined that this impunity resulted from the world community’s inaction in the face of the 1988 massacre. They underlined that the failure of international bodies to act had a “devastating impact” on Iran’s general human rights situation.
In recent years, the killing of Iranian protesters in November 2019, the subsequent mistreatment of the detained protesters, and the execution of Navid and other political prisoners are examples of the devastating impact of the world community’s inaction and the crisis of impunity in Iran.
If the world community had put pressure on the clerical regime, criminals like Raisi could have never assumed high positions, and perhaps many families like Afkari’s were not torn apart.
With the growing calls for holding Raisi to account for human rights violations, the world community should once and for all end the crisis of impunity in Iran. This could happen by exercising universal jurisdiction and prosecute Raisi and other officials involved in human rights violations. The world community should take the first step by launching an independent investigation into human rights violations in Iran, mainly the 1988 massacre.
As Agnes Callamard underlined: “It is now more urgent than ever for member states of the UN Human Rights Council to take concrete steps to address the crisis of systematic impunity in Iran including by establishing an impartial mechanism to collect and analyse evidence of the most serious crimes under international law committed in Iran to facilitate fair and independent criminal proceedings.”