By Adena Nima*
During his inauguration speech yesterday in Tehran, Ebrahim Raisi, dubbed the “Butcher of Tehran” by most Iranians for his role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the late 80s, claimed the regime was “the real defender of human rights”.
“We are the real defenders of human rights and denounce the violation of the rights of innocent human beings. Whether in Europe, America, Yemen, Palestine, or Syria, we will stand against oppression and crime,” he said in Iran’s parliament.
Ebrahim Raisi said Iran’s June 18 elections carried a message of “change, justice, independence, resistance against the extravagance of arrogant and oppressive governments” and “interactions with the world”.
During the “Affirmation Ceremony” two days before where the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei formally endorsed the so-called “elected” president, Raisi expressed regret that he could not kiss the Supreme Leader’s hand due to COVID-19 restrictions. This does not come as a surprise since he owes his presidency to Khamenei, who studiously removed all other candidates to ensure the victory of the former Chief Justice.
Both Khamenei and Raisi ignored the extensive vetting and rigging in the presidential elections that made Ebrahim Raisi President during their speeches. Of course, anyone familiar with Iran knows most Iranians refused to vote, and turnout was only 10% according to credible sources. Even according to official figures, around 49% took part in the rigged vote, a record low compared to previous elections. From the 49%, around 13% of the ballots cast were void indicating that invalid votes came in second in the elections. Invalid votes even came in first place in some provinces including Alborz, near Tehran.
Officials from Iran-backed terrorist organizations such as Palestine’s Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Yemen’s Houthis were also at the inauguration ceremony. The European Union’s representative, Enrique Mora, sat behind the terrorist officials at the ceremony.
The “Butcher of Tehran”
Raisi is a 60-year-old, mid-ranking cleric in Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim establishment. He was appointed as Iran’s Chief Justice by Khamenei in March 2019 and considered a possible successor to Khamenei as the Supreme Leader.
Ebrahim Raisi is known for his brutality towards political prisoners and dissidents. During his inauguration speech as the Chief Justice in 2019, he said the “security” of the regime was the Judiciary’s main priority. This was a direct attack against dissidents who were given long prison terms and lashes for “acting against national security”.
But what makes Raisi the “Butcher of Tehran”, is his involvement in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. He was in the three-member Death Commission in Tehran tasked by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini with executing political prisoners who refused to abandon their beliefs. At least 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), were executed in less than three months in the summer of 1988.
Raisi has never publicly admitted to executing thousands in the 80s. But during a recent speech before his presidency, he said he should be “applauded” for “preserving security in the face of attacks and threats”. The biggest threat to the regime’s survival has always been dissidents and popular anti-regime protests.