Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell

Former US Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights Weighs in on Raisi Appointment

Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell

Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell (Second Left) speaking at NCRI’s news brief on the situation of human rights in Iran-Washington Press Club- December 1, 2017

Ken Blackwell, the former US ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, wrote an op-ed for conservative news site Townhall. The human rights expert weighed in on the Iranian regime’s appointment of Ebrahim Raisi as the head of the Iranian judiciary. He called Raisi,

“one of the most brutal figures of modern history of Iranian jurisprudence.”

https://twitter.com/townhallcom/status/1104970245515759616

Raisi was involved in the systematic execution of more than 30,000 members of the Iranian opposition in 1988. His ascent to the head of the judiciary illustrates the regime’s intent to further attack, maim, and kill members of the Iranian resistance and the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the umbrella coalition which includes the MEK, denounced the appointment in a statement that read; Ali Khamenei “proves once again that as the head of the crisis-stricken theocratic regime, he finds no solution other than a hard turn towards further repression.”

A Regime in Crisis

Putting their statement into context, Blackwell outlined the precarious position the regime currently finds itself in. “The crisis in question is twofold,” Blackwell writes. Widespread civil unrest and anger over the regime’s economic mismanagement and corruption weigh heavily on the mullahs. This domestic unrest coupled with the regime’s increased isolation on the international stage is causing an existential crisis. The regime’s solution to this crisis appears to be the promotion of a known human rights abuser in Raisi and an impending crackdown on the MEK and the opposition.

“In this sense, the appointment of Raisi as the new judiciary chief is just the latest in a series of efforts to reassert a national identity that is under threat of overthrow at the hands of a resentful and overwhelmingly pro-democratic opposition,” Blackwell rights.

Beyond the human rights abuses, Blackwell argues that Raisi’s appointment also exposes the folly in international policy towards the Iranian regime. Since his rise to power in 2013, many international governments have championed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a moderating influence on the clerical regime.

His indifference in the face of Raisi’s appointment serves to demonstrate the inaccuracy of this belief. Rouhani has expanded repressive gender separation policies, increased state-sponsored terror attacks abroad, and deployment of military personnel to quash public dissent in Iran. These are not the acts of a “moderate”.

Repression Will Not Prevail

Blackwell concluded his piece on a note of optimism. “Ultimately,” he writes, repression is “no solution”. “The Iranian people have continued to demonstrate in favor of dramatic reform and outright regime change even in the wake of thousands of protestors being arrested and dozens killed,” he said.

This commitment and resilience to democracy will ensure the MEK and the Iranian resistance will prevail. “They’re determined to succeed in overthrowing this evil and illegitimate regime,” Blackwell writes, adding, “they deserve moral and political support from the democratic nations of the world.”

Staff Writer

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