Newsweek | Struan Stevenson | 10/1/21
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, dubbed the “butcher of Tehran” due to his involvement in murder, genocide and human rights violations, ducked out of attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York and instead sent a pre-recorded message. Raisi is on the U.S. sanctions list because of his leading role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. It seems likely he chose to stay in Tehran rather than risk causing outrage to tens of thousands of ex-pat Iranians, had he come in person to New York. His predecessors as presidents of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani, both attended the New York U.N. General Assembly meetings in person, but Raisi is clearly afraid of his murderous past catching up with him if he dares to set foot in the West.
Raisi has publicly admitted and even boasted about his involvement in the 1988 massacre, involving mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran / Mojahedin e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK), the main democratic opposition to the despotic mullahs. In fact, in 2009, following a nationwide uprising in protest at the rigged election of Ahmadinejad as president, Raisi said: “As long as the MEK leadership is alive, anyone who supports the group in any way deserves to be executed.” By this, he meant that extermination of the MEK members and supporters is a must without any legal basis, simply because they think differently from the mullahs and because their different approach is more appealing to ordinary Iranians, particularly young people, women and intellectuals. There can be no clearer indication of his involvement in the international crime of genocide.
Now, Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, has called for Raisi to be investigated for crimes against humanity and for his involvement in murder, enforced disappearance and torture. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has also issued a damning report on the grave human rights violations that have occurred in Iran. His report expressed concern at the inhumane treatment and torture of supporters of opposition groups and their arbitrary conviction by revolutionary courts for the alleged crime of moharebeh or waging war against God, which carries the automatic death penalty. The opposition groups referred to by Guterres are mainly the PMOI/MEK, again showing that the U.N. has recognized the crime of genocide. In his report, António Guterres also expresses his concern over impunity from past violations such as the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, accusing the Iranian regime of “destroying evidence of the execution of political dissidents and harassment and criminal prosecution of families of victims calling for truth and accountability.”
In his pre-recorded video speech, filled with lies, cynical abuse, insults, praise of terrorism and threats to global peace and security, Raisi accused the U.S. of using sanctions as an act of war against Iran. He falsely claimed that U.S. sanctions had prevented medicines and COVID-19 vaccines from reaching the Iranian people, despite the fact that sanctions have never affected food, medicines, agricultural items and humanitarian products. It is only the criminal incompetence of the mullahs who ruled against utilizing any COVID-19 vaccines from the West and then defaulted on payments for Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccines from China and Russia, that has led to the appalling tragedy of over 440,000 deaths from the virus in Iran.
Claiming to be keen to send a message of “rationality, justice and freedom” to the world, Raisi, the hanging prosecutor, whose hands are dripping with the blood of his murdered victims, carefully avoided any mention of the mullahs’ massive financial and military support for proxy wars across the Middle East. As the key sponsors of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the brutal Shiite militias in Iraq, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the mullahs do nothing for rationality, justice and freedom. Raisi even heaped praise on the terrorist godfather Qasem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike.
Raisi predictably also called for all the signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement, to uphold their obligations under the terms of the deal. He omitted to remind the U.N. how his regime has repeatedly boasted of their serial breach of the agreement as they accelerate their enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade status. Raisi demanded the lifting of U.S. sanctions as the only way of ensuring the Iranian regime’s return to the terms of the JCPOA, despite widespread intelligence that the mullahs’ adherence to the nuclear agreement was always a fraud and their race to develop a nuclear bomb never faltered.
Raisi, as a genocidal murderer, presides over a government of assassins, terrorists and thieves. He must never be allowed to set foot in the West and he should be prevented from addressing international conferences, even remotely. The U.N. Security Council must now facilitate the prosecution of Ebrahim Raisi and other officials responsible for decades of atrocities and human rights violations, particularly the genocidal massacre of political prisoners in 1988. There must be no impunity for mass murderers like Raisi. The recent news that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has launched a full probe into Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, for his involvement in crimes against humanity and murder will send shockwaves to Tehran. Duterte’s extra-judicial killings in his so-called war on drugs may now lead to his indictment, arrest and appearance in the ICC. Surely this must pave the way for a similar indictment against Raisi.
Today, we should send the clearest possible message to Ebrahim Raisi. His crimes will not be forgotten or forgiven. His victims and their families demand justice. He will be held to account for crimes against humanity, murder, human rights violation and genocide. There is a prison cell in The Hague waiting for him.