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Geneva Press Conference Calls on UN to Prosecute Ebrahim Raisi for Role in 1988 Massacre

Geneva conference 1988 massacre raisi 12122023 (1)

On December 12, protesting the United Nations’ invitation of the Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi to participate at the Global Refugee Forum 2023, a press conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland. At this conference, survivors of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran talked to the media about a legal complaint with the Swiss Federal Public Prosecutor, seeking the arrest and prosecution of Ebrahim Raisi for crimes against humanity, including genocide, torture, and extrajudicial executions.

This conference came against the backdrop of an international campaign, comprising 350 dignitaries signing a statement expressing outrage at Raisi’s participation and urging his prosecution for past and ongoing crimes against humanity.

During the press conference, three plaintiffs who filed the legal complaint against Raisi were present to share their testimonies. Mr. Reza Shamirani, who spent over 10 years in the notorious Evin prison, recounted his face-to-face encounter with Raisi during the 1988 death commissions. Also in attendance were Mr. Ali Zolfaqari, imprisoned for 12 years, and Mrs. Razieh Qodrati, a former political prisoner who lost her brother in the 1988 massacre.

The central message of the press conference was clear: a regime with a record of executions and sponsorship of terrorism is unwelcome at the United Nations. The organizers emphasized the need for accountability and justice for crimes against humanity committed by the Iranian regime.

Hosting the press conference, Zolal Habibi from NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned Ebrahim Raisi‘s visit to Switzerland, underscoring the international community’s failure to hold the regime’s president accountable for ongoing crimes against humanity.

She pointed to precedents in Scotland and New York, where complaints from Iranian victims of the 1988 massacre successfully prevented Raisi’s attendance at international conferences. She lamented the lack of political will among the global community to address Raisi’s actions, leading to continued human rights abuses.

Highlighting Raisi’s involvement in the 2019 and 2020 crackdowns on protesters, Ms. Habibi exposed the execution toll in Iran, with over 220 people executed in the past two months alone, including political prisoners, minors, and women.

Addressing concerns about the influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Raisi’s delegation, Ms. Habibi identified key members with ties to the IRGC and the Quds Force, warning about their entry into Switzerland. She emphasized that the European Parliament has called for the blacklisting of the IRGC, recognizing the Quds Force as a terrorist entity.

Reza Shemirani, a Swiss resident and former political prisoner, spoke out against the upcoming visit of Ebrahim Raisi to Switzerland. Shemirani, imprisoned from 1981 to 1990 for his support of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), expressed shock at Raisi being invited by Swiss authorities.

As one of three petitioners filing a complaint against the regime’s president, Shemirani underscored the contradiction and the alarming human rights situation in Iran, where thousands face imprisonment for seeking freedom. Recounting his personal experience during the 1988 massacre in Tehran, Shemirani pointed to Raisi’s role and questioned the motives behind the visit, suggesting it certainly be for political convenience rather than genuine concern for human rights.

Responding to a reporter about the news that Raisi might have canceled his trip to Geneva, Mr. Shemirani highlighted the existence of international legal jurisdiction, pointing to successful arrests of individuals abroad in the past. He believed that Raisi’s recent decision could be influenced by the fear of potential legal consequences, citing the case of Hamid Nouri, who faced arrest and trial in Sweden after a trip.

Ali Zolfaqari, a former political prisoner, shared his experiences and expressed his determination to prevent Ebrahim Raisi from entering Switzerland. Zolfaqari, who spent 12 years in prisons including Rasht, Gohardasht, and Evin, highlighted his role as one of the plaintiffs in the ongoing Hamid Nouri case in Sweden.

Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, Zolfaqari explained that the press conference aimed to raise awareness about Raisi’s role as an executioner and a member of the Death Commission during the mass executions of 1988. Drawing on personal encounters during the events, Zolfaqari described Raisi’s brutality and hatred towards the PMOI, aligning with reports from other prisoners.

The primary objective, according to Zolfaqari, is not personal but to stand up for the innocent martyrs who fell victim to Raisi and the Death Commission. The complaint urges the Swiss prosecutor to arrest and prosecute Raisi for crimes against humanity and the mass killing of political prisoners in Gohardasht and Evin prisons, he said.

In an emotional address during a press conference, Razieh Qodrati, a former political prisoner and Swiss resident, revealed the harrowing experiences she and fellow inmates endured during the 1988 massacre in Iran.

Mrs. Qodrati, who was detained as a student and sentenced to five years in prison at the age of 16, detailed her imprisonment in Rasht and subsequent exile to Evin prison in Tehran. She emphasized that most prisoners were students advocating for freedom and knowledge, facing unjustly long sentences.

She recounted witnessing the torture and executions of her fellow inmates, including teachers and intellectuals. Mrs. Qodrati passionately asserted that Ebrahim Raisi, who was invited to Switzerland as the Iranian president, played a pivotal role in the 1988 mass killings.

Expressing her stake in the matter, Qodrati revealed a deeply personal connection to the atrocities. Her brother was among the 30,000 political prisoners killed during the two months of mass executions. She stressed that Raisi, implicated in these heinous acts, should not be allowed to enter Switzerland. Alongside fellow activists, she said she has filed a complaint urging Swiss authorities to arrest and prosecute Raisi for crimes against humanity.