The pending judge: dissecting the legacy of Iran’s new president | Opinion
From July to September 1988, the Islamic Republic of Iran systematically executed approximately 5,000 political prisoners, most of whom were hanged. Since the Iranian authorities refused to allow independent investigations of these killings, the exact number of victims of the massacre committed by the country is still unknown to this day.
The families of the victims were not allowed to bury their loved ones and did not even receive an official death certificate for them. On the contrary, they face violence, persecution, and arrest every time they try to mourn publicly or dare to claim responsibility for the killing.
Despite the unremitting efforts of family members and international human rights organizations to bring those responsible for the Holocaust to justice, none of the officials who oversaw executions have received any condemnation for their actions in the past 32 years.
Last month, one of the officials, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected as the eighth president of Iran.
In 1988, the 28-year-old Raisi, then the deputy prosecutor of Tehran, was a member of the four-member special judicial court established by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khomeini to oversee the execution of political prisoners.
Raisi’s role in the court, known as the “death committee” by political prisoners, was first known to the public in 1989 when Ayatollah Montazeri, then Khomeini’s heir, Three letters criticizing the massacre were leaked to the media.
Many years later, in 2016, Montazeri’s son Ahmed released a recording in which his father could be heard speaking to the committee members and begging them to stop the bloodshed. The recording also confirmed the identities of all four members of the committee: Raisi, Hossein Ali Nayyeri (judge), Morteza Eshraghi (then the Attorney General of Tehran) and Mostafa Pourmohammadi (representative of the Ministry of Intelligence).
Finally, in 2020, “The Voice of the Holocaust: The Untold Story of Iran’s Life and Death”, published in 1988, is the first English monograph on the dark chapter of modern Iranian history. Through the eyewitness testimony of survivors, the research of scholars, and the memory of the children and spouses of the deceased, the book edited by Nasser Mohajel meticulously reproduces the events of that bloody summer.
The book revealed that the mission of the “Death Committee” was to interrogate the imprisoned members of the Iranian People’s Mujahideen (a well-known opposition group) and other left-wing organizations and political parties, and then sentence them to death.
Raisi and Nayyeri are the most active members of the committee, and they conduct interrogations from prisons to prisons across the country.
They interrogated blindfolded prisoners, many of whom have been tried and sentenced one by one, and asked them questions about their political and religious beliefs.
Members of the Iranian People’s Mujahideen are asked to condemn opposition groups and their leaders, and those who refuse to do so will be sent to the gallows.
Leftists were asked whether they believed in God, the afterlife, the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran, and whether they prayed. Some male prisoners were even asked: “Would you like to walk through the mines?” A negative answer to any of these questions will result in the prisoner being executed.
The executed prisoners were buried in mass graves across the country. The authorities did not disclose the location of the burial to the families of the victims. Some people searched hundreds of kilometers of barren land, looking for the bodies of their loved ones. Thanks to their efforts, several mass graves have been discovered across Iran. Families have placed tombstones and memorial signs on these mass graves, but the state has repeatedly removed them and bulldozed these locations to hide any evidence of crime.
Raisi never denied his role in the Kangaroo Court in 1988. As mentioned above, his participation in the “Death Committee” has long been widely known in Iran and around the world. He was even sanctioned by the United States in 2019. However, he was allowed to rise in power, commit other crimes with impunity, and was finally elected president with the full support of the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
Raisi was born in a humble pastor’s family in the northeastern city of Mashhad, but he soon became an important member of the political institutions of the Islamic Republic.
Soon after the 1979 revolution, he joined the Iranian judiciary and began to climb the power ladder. After overseeing the mass executions in 1988 and proving his loyalty to Khamenei, he established himself as a rising star in the country’s judiciary.
In 2004, he was appointed as Iran’s first deputy attorney-general, and he remained in that position until 2014. During his tenure, he oversaw the imprisonment and execution of many dissidents, and is known for being a ruthless and efficient political operator.
Raisi was promoted to Iran’s Attorney General in 2014 and remained in that position until 2016, when he climbed the ladder again-although this time outside the judicial system-and was appointed by the supreme leader as Astan-e Quds The Guardian Razavi is a huge charitable trust fund that manages the shrine of Imam Reza and many other institutions, including factories, automobile factories, agricultural enterprises, banks, hotels, and shops.
A year later, as a reward for his decades of loyalty and service to the regime, he was allowed to participate in the presidential election.
After the release of Montazeri’s recordings, his role in the mass executions in 1988 became the focus of national attention, but he lost to the “moderate” candidate Hassan Rouhani in the election.
However, the defeat of this election did not hinder Lacey’s unstoppable rise. He was appointed by the supreme leader as the head of the Iranian judiciary in 2019. In this position, he approved the execution of several dissidents who were detained after anti-government protests across the country from 2017 to 2019.
In the end, on June 18, 2021, after the election, he was declared the president of Iran, and only those who have repeatedly proven loyalty to the supreme leader and the country can participate in the election.
He is now not only the president, but also the heir to the supreme leader, the most powerful figure in Iran’s theocracy.
Lacey paved the way for his political power with blood and massacre. His election as president was a slap in the face of thousands of Iranians who demanded justice for their loved ones illegally killed by the state. He should not be welcomed as the new leader of the Iranian people, but should be condemned and condemned for the immeasurable suffering and suffering he caused them.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.