On June 19, Iran’s sham presidential election ended. The regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, pulled Ebrahim Raisi out of the ballot box. Many human rights organizations and defenders soon condemned Rais’s selection and called for his prosecution.
Amnesty International June 19 published a press release about Raisi’s presidency. Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General, called Raisi’s presidency part of a “systematic impunity in Iran” under the mullahs’ regime, and 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. In 2018, our organization documented how Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission,’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988. The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.”
Raisi is the notorious henchman of the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners. He was also the regime’s Judiciary Chief from 2019 until 2021. During Raisi’s time as Iran’s Judiciary Chief, nearly 700 people were executed, including 22 political prisoners. The detained protesters of two nationwide uprisings in 2018 and 2019 in Iran were brutally tortured and received lengthy prison sentences.
“As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiralling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders, and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained. Under his watch, the judiciary has also granted blanket impunity to government officials and security forces responsible for unlawfully killing hundreds of men, women, and children and subjecting thousands of protesters to mass arrests and at least hundreds to enforced disappearance, and torture, and other ill-treatment during and in the aftermath of the nationwide protests of November 2019,” Ms. Callamard’s statement read in part.
In September 2020, seven United Nations Experts, published a letter they had submitted to Tehran earlier that year, calling for investigations into the 1988 massacre. They underlined that the 1988 massacre “may amount to crimes against humanity” and underlined if the regime would refuse to investigate the massacre, the international community should act.
In her recent statement, Callamard underlined the necessity to hold Raisi to account for his crimes.
“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.”
The amplifying calls, both inside and outside Iran, to hold Raisi accountable for the 1988 massacre result from the “Justice Seeking Movement” for the 1988 victims.
In addition to Amnesty International number of other human rights defenders and organizations called for Raisi to be held accountable.
“It is concerning that the elected president has until now not clarified his own past or distanced himself clearly from human rights abuses. Human rights are non-negotiable, and Iran has committed itself internationally to adhering to them,” Bärbel Kofler, the human rights commissioner in the German government wrote on Twitter.
Many international media outlets have been referring to Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre.
“In 1988 Mr. Raisi facilitated the extrajudicial execution of thousands of dissidents. He later called the killing ‘one of the proud achievements of the system,’” the Wall Street Journal wrote on June 19.
The Iranian people boycotted the regime’s sham election. Organizations like Amnesty International called for holding Raisi accountable. Therefore, the international community faces a choice: to continue dialogue with an illegitimate regime represented by a criminal like Raisi or hold the regime to account for four decades of terrorism and human rights violations.