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Iran Election 2021: Raisi’s Presidency and Human Rights in Iran

Iran’s sham presidential election will be held on June 18. All developments so far indicate that the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei aims to pull Ebrahim Raisi out of the ballot box.  

According to Iran Human Rights Monitor reports, since Raisi became the regime’s Judiciary Chief, “More than 620 executions were carried out in Iran.” During Raisi’s tenure as Iran’s Judiciary Chief, at least 22 political prisoners were hanged, including Iran’s wrestling champion Navid Afkari. These executions were carried out despite international outcries. In addition, several political prisoners died due to harsh prison conditions and the authorities’ refusal to help those diagnosed with various diseases. 

According to a shocking report published by Amnesty International, “Trampling Humanity” detainees of the Iran protests in 2019 have been systematically subjected to vicious tortures and received lengthy prison sentences, with Raisi being the Judiciary Chief. 

Yet, Raisi’s dark record of human rights violations dates to the early 1980s. 

Born in 1959 in the Noghan neighborhood in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi, Raisi joined the regime’s ranks in the early 1980s. He was Ruhollah Khomeini’s representative in Masjed-e-Soleiman to “deal with the unrests,” as state media have described it. 

Iran: Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

A year later, after returning from the crackdown on Masjed Soleiman, Raisi was sent to the Karaj Prosecutor’s Office as a judge while he was just 19 years old. His job there was basically to interrogate detainees. At the age of 20, the then Revolutionary Prosecutor, the criminal cleric Ali Qoddusi, appointed Ebrahim Raisi as the Karaj Prosecutor. After a few months and countless crimes in Karaj, Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as the Prosecutor of Hamedan while simultaneously retaining his position in Karaj. He held several other top positions before playing a major role in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. 

In 1988, the Iranian regime summarily and extra-judicially executed over 30,000 political prisoners across Iran, mainly members and supports of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The massacre was carried out based on a fatwa by Khomeini. Khomeini assigned the fates of those prisoners already sentenced to specific terms, who held fast to their beliefs, to three individuals who comprised what came to be known as the “death committee” in Tehran and similar committees in the provincial capitals.  Raisi was one of the four members of Tehran’s death commission. However, Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre was not limited to Tehran.   

To Stop Executions in Iran Permanently, World Should Hold Mullahs to Account for 1988 Massacre

“In fact, [Khomeini] was the hero of the struggle against the [MEK]. He knew them well. They should not be provided any opportunity at all,” Raisi defended the 1988 massacre on June 20, 2020. 

Raisi’s role in ongoing human rights violations and his remarks show he has not only repented what he did in 1988. In fact, he is “proud” of committing the regime’s worst crime. 

Since Khamenei paved the way for Raisi to become the regime’s next president more Iranians express their hatred toward Raisi. The call for boycotting the regime’s sham election has been amplified by people and victims of the regime due to the activities of the MEK’s Resistance Units in exposing Raisi’s crime and popularizing the boycott campaign. During the recent so-called “presidential debate,” Raisi acknowledged the MEK’s success in showing his true face to the Iranian people. “Don’t you see how the system’s opponents are attacking me? Don’t you see the number of accusations against me on the internet?” he said. 

Who is Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran presidential election and an executioner in 1988 massacre

Khamenei knows that by selecting Raisi, he would face more pressure from both the international community and Iran’s society due to Raisi’s notorious record of human rights violations. Yet, Khamenei has opted to select Raisi to consolidate power in the regime through oppression to face the restive society and the growing influence of the MEK. 

Yet, increasing oppression would only intensify the public’s hatred toward the regime. 

While Iranians are willing to boycott the regime’s sham election, the international community should also stand by the universal human rights standards and condemn Raisi and the regime. 

In September, seven United Nations Special Rapporteurs underlined that the 1988 massacre “may amount to crimes against humanity.” Raisi is blacklisted for human rights violations. Therefore, the international community has the opportunity to end the regime’s human rights violations by holding Raisi and other perpetrators of human rights violations to account.