MEK Iran: Raisi Must be Prosecuted
The Iranian government formally installed a known human rights abuser as its new president on Thursday. While acting as the judiciary chief less than two years before becoming government, Ebrahim Raisi oversaw a widespread crackdown that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,500 people and the arrest and torture of thousands more. However, this pales in comparison to Raisi’s role in the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988.
In July of that year, the regime’s founder and first supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a religious decree declaring members and supporters of the organized opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq or MEK, to be inherently guilty of “enmity against God.”
The edict also stated that anyone in prison at the time who did not conclusively disavow their support for the MEK would be executed.
In order to carry out that decree, the regime set up “death commissions” to question inmates in prisons across the country. Ebrahim Raisi, as a deputy prosecutor in Tehran at the time, took a proactive role in the interrogations at Evin and Gohardasht prisons.
Khomeini personally empowered him to extend his authority beyond the capital city and “deal with reports from Semnan, Sirjan, Islamabad, and Doroud cities, and regardless of the organizational maze, execute what God’s command is.”
30,000 people were executed in Iran
Of course, perpetrators of the massacre haven’t been prosecuted yet, and individuals such as Raisi will be held accountable more than 30 years later. In terms of the number of victims, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 people were executed in Iran over a three-month period.
Regrettably, the possibilities of a rigorous investigation have dwindled over time, but this does not mean that an investigation is any less necessary today than it was in 1988. On the contrary, the passage of time has only increased the importance of the international community challenging Tehran’s sense of impunity by demanding as complete an accounting of the killings as possible, at the International Criminal Court.
Calls for regime change
Furthermore, if sanctions are promptly put in place towards the Iranian regime’s new president, it will send a powerful signal to the Iranian people that they have genuine political backing in the aftermath of three weeks of upheaval.
According to reports, the latest protests include explicit calls for regime change, similar to the mass protests of January 2018 and November 2019. If this type of turmoil persists and the Iranian regime becomes even more isolated in the international context, the day may come when a new, democratic government is in place in Iran and its people are finally able to bring Raisi and his accomplices to justice.