In the Iranian elections last week, frontrunner Ebrahim Raisi emerged as the victor, and the world has been reacting to the news of his presidency.
He was congratulated by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrollah, Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, but much of the rest of the world has reacted in horror at his appointment.
The Secretary-General of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard said in a statement: “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 pointed out Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners and his crackdown on human rights as Judiciary Chief as reasons for concern as urged the International Criminal Court to investigate him for “his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law”.
While German human rights commissioner Bärbel Kofler tweeted: “It is concerning that the elected president has until now not clarified his own past or distanced himself clearly from human rights abuses. Human rights are non-negotiable, and Iran has committed itself internationally to adhering to them. The voice of the people in Iran who are calling for freedom and human rights must be heard!”
At the same time, several media outlets were also reporting on the 1988 execution of political prisoners, citing much information that was uncovered by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), specifically the burial locations of the victims. Raisi was one of the “death commission” members who subjected MEK supporters already serving prison sentences to death following a show trial.
Seven United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs published an open letter in 2020, where they called for an investigation into the massacre. They initially wrote to Tehran asking them to investigate, but received no response.
The US has already blacklisted Raisi and other officials involved in the massacre, while the EU imposed sanctions on him for human rights violations.
The Iranian opposition wrote: “World powers are now faced with a dilemma. They are negotiating with a regime whose new president is on their blacklists and is notoriously renowned across the world for his human rights abuses. Anyone sitting at the negotiation table with them will be directly representing him. There is no longer a façade of “moderate” figures to hide behind and justify concessions to the regime. They will have to decide whether they will live up to their own values or continue to deny the regime’s murderous nature for the sake of their political and economic interests.”