On Tuesday, June 8, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) issued its final judgement in the case of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic for war crimes. He had supervised the summary execution of some 8,000 unarmed men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in around 26 years ago.
“Today, the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague affirmed his conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. This historic judgment shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable. It also reinforces our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world,” stated U.S. President Joe Biden.
“Genocide denial, revisionism and glorification of war criminals contradict the most fundamental European values. Today’s decision is an opportunity for leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, in view of the facts, to lead the way in honoring victims and promote an environment conducive,” read a joint statement by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi.
Imagine if Ratko Mladić who massacred 8000+ in Srebrenica was today appointed as Judiciary Chief of Bosnia.
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) October 16, 2020
Instead, Ebrahim Raisi, who who allegedly played a key role in the mass killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, is currently running for the presidency. According to survivors and details obtained by victims’ families, Raisi played a key role in purging prisons from political dissidents, particularly members and supporters of the leading opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI).
According to the MEK, the Iranian government formed “Death Commissions” across Iran, leading to the execution of at least 30,000 political prisoners, based on a fatwa issued by Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini.
“Whoever at any stage continues to remain steadfast in their support for the MEK are waging war on God and are condemned to execution,” Khomeini wrote. “Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately.”
To save the Islamic Republic’s reputation, Khomeini’s deputy Hossein-Ali Montazeri summoned members of the Tehran death commission. In a leaked audiotape, dated August 15, 1988, Montazeri is heard urging Raisi and his accomplices to halt the executions and describing the extrajudicial executions as the worse crime in the Islamic Republic’s era. “History would condemn us, and would recall you as criminals,” Montazeri told his guests.
In response, the Death Commission members insisted on killing 200 more prisoners for their political beliefs before the holy month of Muharram.
At the time, Raisi was only 28 years old, holding the position of Tehran Deputy Prosecutor.
Thanks to his crimes against dissidents and to terrify protesters, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Raisi as the Judiciary Chief in March 2019. Observers name Raisi as Khamenei’s favorite candidate in the June 18 Presidential election, believing the Supreme Leader has decided to appoint Raisi as President at all costs.
Indeed, Khamenei intends to clear his domestic opponents and appoint Raisi as a leverage to counter growing public distrust and hatred, dissidents say. “Security is our redline,” Raisi said in the anniversary of the nationwide gas protests in 2019, showing his loyalty to Khamenei and the entire theocracy.
Nevertheless, as U.S. and European leaders condemned the Srebrenica murderer Mladic and call for preventing atrocities anywhere in the world, it is time to hold Iranian autocrats accountable for their uncountable crimes inside Iran and abroad, Iranian opponents say.
Since 1979, the religious dictatorship has executed, assassinated, and abducted hundreds of thousands of dissidents, ordinary people, and even foreign nationalities. Aside from the 1988 massacre, as the Judiciary Chief, Raisi is responsible for killing at least 1,500 protesters and bystanders in broad daylight.
In September 2020, Amnesty International revealed new scopes of torture and ill-treatment against detained protesters. “Instead of investigating allegations of enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment and other crimes against detainees, Iranian prosecutors became complicit in the campaign of repression by bringing national security charges against hundreds of people solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, while judges doled out guilty verdicts on the basis of torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Iran analysts say the international community should do whatever it needs to hold those who involve in human rights violations, mass killings, and genocides against minorities in Iran. As the Supreme Leader appoints a known murderer as President, the world should opt between standing alongside the people of Iran and supporting their struggle for freedom, human rights, justice, and the rule of law, and appeasing a brutal and merciless dictatorship, dissidents say.