Despite a huge boycott of the Iranian regime’s sham presidential election in June, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei still chose to make sure that Ebrahim Raisi was elected as the regime’s new president.
Following the announcement of Raisi’s appointment, public protests ensued which condemned him as the ‘henchman of 1988’ and brought to light his history of human rights abuses during his career and as the head of the judiciary in recent years.
Chief among those recent abuses was the crackdown on a nationwide uprising that broke out in November 2019 and revived anti-regime slogans like “death to the dictator” which had defined a prior uprising in January 2018.
During the November 2019 uprising, security forces, on orders from the regime, opened fire on the crowds of protesters and murdered over 1,500 people, as confirmed by a Reuters report.
In the terms of Raisi’s designation as the ‘henchman of 1988’, this is in reference to his involvement during the 1988 massacre in Iran. He served as one of four officials on a panel in Tehran known as the ‘death commission’. Under orders from then-supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, who had issued a fatwa declaring all members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were an ‘enmity against God’, Raisi sentenced thousands of political prisoners to their deaths.
The procedures established by the Tehran death commission were soon emulated in various other cities over the course of three months, and the nationwide death toll among political prisoners climbed to above 30,000.
In a recent conference held in Stockholm, which coincided with Raisi’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, former Iranian political prisoner Nasrollah Marandi recalled that he and other prisoners held at the Evin and Gohardasht prisons in Iran witnessed Raisi chairing the ‘death commission’ and sending prisoners to the gallows. Marandi dubbed the international community’s nonchalant attitude to Raisi and his crimes against humanity as a “betrayal to the ideals of democracy and human rights”.
When Raisi was inaugurated as the Iranian president in early August, the European Union further betrayed the Iranian people and effectively showed their support of the regime by sending the deputy political director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora to attend the ceremony.
Tehran’s impunity with regard to the 1988 massacre and human rights, in general, has translated into an expectation of the same impunity with regard to all of its other malign activities.
This aura of impunity has further been reflected by glancing at the appointments of officials to Raisi’s administration. Many of his cabinet ministers and heads of government agencies are highly known for their own crimes against humanity and penchant for terror and suppression, both domestically and abroad.
President-elect of the NCRI, Maryam Rajavi spoke out following the announcements of the cabinet appointments and referred to the Raisi administration as “the embodiment of four decades of mullahs’ religious dictatorship and terrorism, whose primary mission is to confront the people’s uprising, and to plunder the national wealth, step up terrorism and warmongering, and expand the unpatriotic nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”