International Conference 

Eyewitnesses of Raisi's role in 1988 massacre 

Call for UN Investigation

Stockholm, Sweden – Tuesday 21st September 2021 – 09.30-11.30hrs.

Speech by Struan Stevenson

Later today, a criminal guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, will be invited to address the UN General Assembly in New York. Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran, known as ‘Butcher of Tehran’ for his role in the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, will make his speech remotely, from the safety of Tehran. He knows that his presence at the UN would be undesirable. Indeed, I urge the UN permanent Missions or heads of UN member states who will be attending the general assembly, to leave the session or the zoom meeting, when Raisi begins his speech, to show the Iranian regime that a mass murderer is not welcome in the UN.

Raisi has publicly admitted and even boasted about his involvement in the 1988 massacre, involving mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/ Mojahedin e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK), the main democratic opposition to the despotic mullahs. In fact, in 2009, following a nationwide uprising in protest at the rigged election of Ahmadinejad as president, Raisi said: "As long as the MEK leadership is alive, anyone who supports the group in any way deserves to be executed." By this, he meant that extermination of the MEK members and supporters is a must without any legal basis, simply because they think differently from the mullahs and because their different approach is more appealing to ordinary Iranians, particularly young people, women and intellectuals. There can be no clearer indication of his involvement in the international crime of genocide.

Now, Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, has called for Raisito be investigated for crimes against humanity and for his involvement in murder, enforced disappearance and torture. The UN Secretary-General - António Guterres, has also issued a damning report on the grave human rights violations that have occurred in Iran. His report expresses concern at the inhuman treatment and torture of supporters of opposition groups and their arbitrary conviction by revolutionary courts for the alleged crime of moharebeh or waging war against God, which carries the automatic death penalty. The opposition groups referred to by António Guterres are, of course, mainly the PMOI/MEK, again showing that the UN has recognised the crime of genocide.

In his report, António Guterres also expresses his concern over impunity from past violations such as the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, accusing the Iranian regime of “destroying evidence of the execution of political dissidents at that time and the harassment and criminal prosecution of families of victims calling for truth and accountability.” 

The UN Security Council must now facilitate the prosecution of Ebrahim Raisi and other officials responsible for decades of atrocities and human rights violations, particularly the genocidal massacre of political prisoners in 1988. There must be no impunity for mass murderers like Raisi. Indeed, the news last week that the International Criminal Court in the Hague (ICC) has launched a full probe into Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Phillipines, for his involvement in crimes against humanity and murder, will send shockwaves to Tehran. Duterte’s extra-judicial killings in his so-called ‘war on drugs’ may now lead to his indictment, arrest and appearance in the ICC. Surely this must pave the way for a similar indictment against Raisi?

Today, we should send the clearest possible message to Ebrahim Raisi. His crimes will not be forgotten or forgiven. His victims and their families demand justice. He will be held to account for crimes against humanity, murder, human rights violation and genocide. There is a prison cell in the Hague waiting for him.