At an online conference hosted on June 24 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), human rights experts and legal scholars discussed the implications of Ebrahim Raisi as president of the Iranian regime. They also weighed in on the role the international community must play in ending the culture of impunity of criminals in Tehran and holding the regime authorities to account for their past and ongoing crimes, writes Shahin Gobadi.
Panelists included former UN Appeals Judge and President of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Court Geoffrey Robertson, President Emeritus of the Law Society of England and Wales Nicholas Fluck, former Security Officer National Officer, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., former head of the UN Human Rights Office in Iraq Tahar Boumedra, and survivor of the 1988 massacre, Reza Fallahi.
The result of the sham presidential election on June 18 in Iran was the selection of Raisi as the regime’s next president. The international community reacted with indignation, mainly because of Raisi’s direct role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners across the country. Raisi was a member of the four-man ‘Death Committee’ responsible for the heinous mass murder. The overwhelming majority of the victims were supporters of the main opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
The regime’s electoral masquerade also faced an unprecedented situation and massive nationwide boycott by the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people. With their resounding boycott, the Iranian people have made it clear that they are looking for nothing less than a change in diete in Iran with their own hands.
Ali Safavi, member of the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee and moderator of Thursday’s event, said the Iranian people had dubbed Raisi “the henchman of the 1988 massacre”.
The accession to the presidency of one of the worst criminals in modern history, he added, is a decision taken by the Supreme Leader of the Mullahs Ali Khamenei out of absolute desperation and because he faces a society on the verge of explosion, with more popular uprisings. looms on the horizon.
Safavi also dismissed the myth of moderation in Tehran and added: “Raisi’s rise also ended the spurious’ moderate vs. hard ‘narrative, which the Iranian people had debunked in their chants of’ Reformer, line lasts, the game is now over “during the four national uprisings since 2017.”
Leading international human rights expert and jurist Geoffrey Robertson said: “We now have an international criminal as President of the State of Iran. … What I have proof of is that Raisi, along with two other colleagues, has repeatedly sent people to their deaths without a proper trial or even without a trial. And that implicates him in a crime against humanity. “
He said Raisi’s presidency “focuses attention on this barbaric moment in world history that has been overlooked,” calling the 1988 massacre “indeed one of the greatest crimes against humanity, certainly. the greatest committed against prisoners since World War II “.
Regarding the role of the United Nations, Mr. Robertson said: “The United Nations has a bad conscience about this. At the time, Amnesty International alerted to the massacre across Iran, but the UN turned a blind eye to the matter.
“The UN has a duty to set up a proper investigation into these barbaric acts of 1988.”
Mr. Robertson also spoke of the potential for Magnitsky sanctions to be applied in Europe against Raisi and other officials complicit in the 1988 massacre. Responding to questions about Raisi’s immunity from trial as chief State, Mr. Robertson said that “a crime against humanity and the need to end impunity by punishing it outweighs any immunity.”
Nick Fluck, President Emeritus of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “Raisi has publicly stated that he is proud of his role in the slaughter of political prisoners. This should serve as an important wake-up call to all of us. We cannot remain silent on the sidelines. “
He added: “It looks like the death committee was just carrying out a cleanup operation. [in 1988] to ward off people who were loud against the regime. “
Mr Fluck also said: “I applaud the efforts, diligence and persuasiveness of the NCRI” with regard to the request for inquiries into the 1988 massacre.
Speaking from Washington, DC, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr. said: “The West has failed to face reality. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, and his successor, current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are both serious human rights violators. They are responsible for directing major acts of international terrorism on foreign soil.
Referring to the fact that there are no differences between the so-called “moderates” and “extremists” in the regime, Amb. Bloomfield said: “Since 2017, under so-called moderate President Rouhani, Raisi has put people in jail. Raisi’s role has continued since the 1988 massacre before our eyes.”
Recalling the observation that “human rights are at the center of President Biden’s message to the world”, Amb. Bloomfield recommended, “The United States and others must pursue human rights cases not only against Raisi, but against all members of the regime.
“There should also be a counterintelligence investigation in America to ensure that people speaking on behalf of Iran [regime] are identified by their link with the regime, ”he concluded.
A survivor of the 1988 massacre also spoke at the event. Reza Fallahi, who miraculously escaped the murders and now resides in Britain, recounted a gruesome personal ordeal from his arrest in September 1981 for supporting the MEK. He recalled that the planning of the massacre had started “at the end of 1987 and the beginning of 1988”.
He added regarding the role of Raisi: “Ebrahim Raisi showed particular hostility towards myself and my cell mates. … They asked for our affiliation with a political organization, if we believe in the Islamic Republic, and if we are ready to repent, and so on. … Overall, only 12 people survived in our service. “
He added: “To prevent the regime from committing another massacre, the international community, especially the United Nations, must end the culture of impunity, launch an independent investigation into the massacre and hold people to account. like Raisi.
Fallahi also announced that the families of the victims will file a lawsuit against Raisi in the UK.
“Will Western countries and the United Nations remain silent as they did in the 1988 massacre?” asked the survivor of the massacre.
Tahar Boumedra, former head of the UN Human Rights Office in Iraq and Coordinator of Justice for Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), said: “JVMI joins Amnesty International, and we call Ebrahim Raisi be investigated for his role in past and ongoing crimes against humanity, and for international tribunals to bring him to justice. “
“We are not going to wait until Raisi’s immunity is taken away to act. We are going to act and we are going to submit this to the British system.”
Boumedra said: “JVMI has documented a large amount of evidence and it will be turned over to the relevant authorities,” before adding: “We firmly believe that Raisi’s place is not to lead a state or be president. His place is in a detention center in The Hague ”, referring to the seat of the International Court of Justice.