On June 19, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi was officially announced as the eighth President for the Islamic Republic of Iran. He preposterously won a flawed election designed and implemented by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his under-the-thumb organs like the Guardian Council.
Nonetheless, the appointment of Raisi, who is known as the ‘butcher of Tehran,’ prompted anger sensitivity among the people of Iran and many human rights groups and experts, as well as a significant number of politicians and representatives.
Rights Experts Call for an Inquiry Commission Over Ebrahim Raisi’s Crimes in 1988
Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, this week called for an impartial investigation into Raisi’s role in the trial and execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
“I think it is time and it’s very important now that Mr. Raisi is the president (-elect) that we start investigating what happened in 1988 and the role of individuals,” Rehman said in an interview with Reuters on June 29, adding, “I will campaign for justice to be done.”
“Over the years his office has gathered testimonies and evidence. It was ready to share them if the United Nations Human Rights Council or other body sets up an impartial investigation,” he emphasized and declared his concerns over reports about destroying mass graves as an attempt for removing evidence.
Previously, Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, had expressed concern over the appointment of a criminal as President in Iran. “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,” she tweeted on June 19.
In 2018, @amnesty 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.
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) June 19, 2021
In early May, more than 150 former United Nations officials, human rights authorities, and legal experts demanded that the UN open an inquiry into the killings they say ‘may amount to crimes against humanity.’
“We appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to end the culture of impunity that exists in Iran by establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 mass extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances. We urge High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to support the establishment of such a Commission,” they wrote.
According to opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq, more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly MEK members, and supporters, were executed in the summer of 1988. The mass extrajudicial executions were performed in accordance with Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa and through the “death commissions” across the country. Raisi was a member of the four-member death commission in Tehran, who insisted on more executions.
Raisi Upholds Executions in Iran
Aside from his leading role in mass killings in 1988, Ebrahim Raisi is responsible for gross human rights violations in Iran since 1980 when he entered the judiciary system. As Tehran Deputy Prosecutor, Judiciary Deputy Chief, and Attorney General he supervised thousands of death sentences in the past 42 years.
Particularly, he personally upheld the entire death penalty in Iran since March 2019, when he was appointed as the Judiciary Chief by Khamenei. This is while he lacks fundamental classic education, and he was challenged by his ‘reformist’ rival Mohsen Mehralizadeh in this respect during a Presidential debate.
“You have only educated for six classes… This is not enough for leading the country,” Hamshahri Online quoted Mehralizedeh as saying on June 5.
“Our people once again will announce that they do not want those who only understand the execution and prison in the past 38 years,” President Hassan Rouhani slammed Raisi for lack of formal education in the Presidential campaign in Hamedan city in May 2017.
"In May 2017 presidential election, our people will say their opinion about those who have just known execution and prison in the past 38 years," said Hassan Rouhani on the current judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi during his presidential campaign in #Hamedan on May 8, 2017. pic.twitter.com/l4h6xaEplI
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) August 7, 2020
However, in his tenure as the Judiciary Chief, Raisi had upheld the death sentence of at least 500 inmates, including political activists, women, juvenile offenders, and followers of ethnic and religious minorities. In a report tallied by Iran News Update, more than 270 inmates were hanged throughout 2020 alone.
While he had personally upheld enormous death sentences, he expected to be praised for defending human rights. “If a judge, a prosecutor has defended the security of the people, he should be praised… I am proud to have defended human rights in every position I have held so far,” Raisi said in his first press conference on June 21 while he asked about his involvement in killings.
In a nutshell, the crimes committed by Ebrahim Raisi have yet to end, and observers and activists predict the human rights situation in Iran would further deteriorate. They say that Khamenei has appointed him to counter Iranians’ growing enthusiasm for anti-establishment protests and uprisings, which are an inherent backlash to the ayatollahs’ 42 years of suppression and bloodshed.
In such circumstances, the international community, particularly rights groups and activists, should support Mr. Rehman’s call-forcing and encouraging UN officials to establish an inquiry commission regarding President-select Ebrahim Raisi’s crimes against humanity, Iranian dissidents believe.