Iran: Appointment of Notorious Judge Responsible for 1988 Massacre Sparks Condemnation


Last week, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader appointed Ebrahim Raisi, a perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, as the head of the regime’s judiciary, a move that sparked international condemnation by human rights groups, foreign politicians, and the Iranian opposition (NCRI), who all pointed to Raisi’s role in the massacre as one of the many reasons that he should have been instantly disqualified from office.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has long sought to increase international attention towards the massacre, which largely targeted members of the NCRI’s main constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), in order to get an independent investigation into the massacre as a horrendous crime against humanity.

Raisi’s appointment is yet another example of how the Regime in Iran not only does not punish or prevent human rights violations, but protects & promotes rights abusers while facing no international repercussions. It also shows how the Regime is lurching toward increased repression of the Iranians.

On 9 August 2016, twenty-eight years after the carnage, an audio recording of Montazeri’s meeting on 15 August 1988 with top officials responsible for the massacre was published online by his son Ahmad Montazeri. The Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, was successor of Khomeini at the time, and he was a higher-ranking cleric than Khamenei and his minions.

In the audio file (transcript), Montazeri could be heard addressing members of the “Death Commission” of Tehran consisting of Mostafa Pourmohammadi, representative of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS); Hossein Ali Nayyeri, the Sharia judge; Morteza Eshraghi, the public prosecutor; and Ebrahim Raisi, the deputy prosecutor at the time, who collectively decided on the executions in the Iranian capital city.

Montazeri told the Death Commission: The biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you.” Montazeri was subsequently ousted by Khomeini and put under house arrest until his death in 2009.

Ebrahim Raisi is nevertheless a low ranking cleric without adequate religious credentials. He is under the control of the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has been serving in the regime’s repressive agencies since the age of twenty. Appointing him as the head of the regime’s judiciary will prove unacceptable for many government-affiliated clerics. During the sham presidential elections in May 2017, the regime’s rank-and-file clerics refused to support Raisi despite coercive pressure by Khamenei. Rouhani, the regime’s current president, who competed against Raisi during the sham elections, said he (Raisi) was one of those who “only knew execution and prisons for 38 years.”

During a factional bickering prior to the 2017 presidential elections, Rouhani shed light on how Raisi as the head of Astan Quds Razavi, a multi-billion dollar foundation that only responds to Khamenei, was extensively involved in plundering the country’s wealth. Rouhani also revealed Raisi’s past 38-year record of executions and tortures of prisoners.

In a speech in Hamadan on May 8, 2017 prior to the elections, Rouhani said: “Our people will once again say that they don’t want those who have known only execution and torture during past 38 years. I’m asking those who are using the country’s wealth and money and travel to the cities and towns to frustrate and discourage the people, when they should be used for the security of the nation, what are you so afraid of?”

But now, ironically, in a 180-degree turn, Rouhani praises and embraces Raisi in a letter writing: “His appointment as the head of the country’s judiciary is a sign of his admirable management in administrating his previous responsibilities.”

The NCRI advised that the appointment of the hardliner judge who was defeated in the presidential election despite backing by Khamenei, proves once again that Khamenei has found no solution to the crises plaguing Iran but instead turned to further repression and a more malign foreign policy, including the separation of women and men in public places, banning additional media outlets, halting internet access, and increased morality police patrols, while at the same time the regime’s malign foreign policy includes terrorist plots on European and US soil, a military build up, provocative manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf, and more ballistic missile tests.

Iran’s Regime is now facing at least two major crises :

1. Continuous widespread domestic unrest, with MEK-driven protests that started in December 2017 and spread to over 150 cities and towns while protesters calling “death to the dictator”

2. Increased international isolation, after Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal following by reimposing sanctions on the mullahs and encouraging others to do the same

Yet despite the repression, the Iranian people continue to rise up, even while many have been killed, and the Regime is unable to crush their protests.

As Mr. Ken Blackwell, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, wrote: “The resilience of Iran’s activist community was on display here in Washington this week, as thousands of Iranian-Americans marched in support of the NCRI and its 10-Point Plan for an Iran that is free, democratic, and nonnuclear. They sought to bring the message of Iran’s people to Washington. Simply put, they have had enough. They are strong. They are capable. And they’re determined to succeed in overthrowing this evil and illegitimate regime. They deserve moral and political support from the democratic nations of the world.”