MEK Iran: Raisi’s Inauguration
Since July 15, large-scale protests have erupted in Khuzestan in southwest Iran. The demonstration has spread to a number of other cities in the last two weeks, including Tehran, Tabriz, Bushehr, and Isfahan. This upward trend, as well as the regime’s repression, will continue in the days and weeks ahead, particularly following the inauguration of the regime’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, on August 3.
The vast majority of Iranians boycotted the election
Raisi was “selected” on June 18, however, the vast majority of Iranians boycotted the election, understanding that regime officials had already opened the door for his triumph when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made it obvious that he had chosen Raisi.
According to all reports, Raisi’s decision was based on his lengthy history of supporting and engaging in the repression of dissent, particularly that affiliated with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran).
The MEK was the main target of a campaign of mass executions
The MEK was the main target of a campaign of mass executions that took over 30,000 lives in the summer of 1988. Raisi was the deputy public prosecutor in Tehran when the campaign began, and he quickly advanced through the ranks of the regime’s main “death commission.”
Khamenei gave Raisi authority over the Iranian judiciary
Despite widespread public opposition, Khamenei gave Raisi authority over the Iranian judiciary in 2019. Raisi’s command over the judiciary aggravated the regime’s crackdown and compelled the protest movement to return underground.
Unlike the January 2018 insurrection, which resulted in about 60 deaths over the course of about a month, the November 2019 uprising was followed by mass shootings almost immediately, killing over 1,500 people in a couple of days.
Amnesty International’s Trampling Humanity report
At least 12,000 individuals were arrested, according to Amnesty International’s Trampling Humanity report, and Raisi’s judiciary immediately began a torture and lengthy questioning campaign that lasted months.
The statement stressed the need to halt Tehran’s “impunity” in the absence of significant international actions to hold top officials and institutions accountable for human rights violations.
The Khuzestan crackdown is unknown
So far, the activist community has had to deal with the aftermath of at least a dozen shooting deaths, with the possibility of many more. The actual scope of the Khuzestan crackdown is unknown, in part because Tehran has shut down the internet to slow the spread of information.
The Khuzestan protests were clearly sparked by water shortages that coincided with rising summer heat, but they also highlighted the regime’s apathy toward industrial and environmental policies that contributed to the shortages. This, in turn, reflects the popular understanding of Tehran’s general indifference to the people’s problems and the absence of any significant authority to provide a meaningful response.
Call for a formal UN commission of investigation
The international community should be fully aware of the situation and should call for a formal UN commission of investigation, beginning on Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre but expanding to include other authorities and other crimes.
Such an investigation would go a long way toward signaling to the Iranian government that its period of impunity is coming to an end and that if the present Khuzestan protests turn into another uprising, the Iranian people would once again have the support of the international community.