An Iranian Dissident’s Thoughts on Raisi Traveling to New York for UN General Assembly
The moment I heard that Ebrahim Raisi, my former interrogator and torturer, may be given the prestigious podium to address the UN General Assembly on September 19, I once again relived all the nightmares that started for me and my family 39 years ago. And there are thousands of Iranians, who, like myself, have lost family members and loved ones, for him to climb the ladder of power and become the president of Iran.
Ebrahim Raisi is personally responsible for my torture in prison and the execution of my husband and brother. He oversaw the interrogations and tortures inflicted on me even while I was pregnant, just 2 weeks before giving birth.
It would be shameful for the United States to grant a visa to Raisi to travel to New York and speak at the UN, as it would give a green light for executions and torture to continue. It would signal to murderous dictators that they will enjoy impunity no matter how heinous the crimes they committed.
I am a mother, a former political prisoner, and lone survivor of the Hamedan Prison’s massacres of 1988. I have seen many lives destroyed and many families shattered by the man you are going to embrace as a head of state.
For me, it all started in 1983 when I was arrested at the start of my 9th month of pregnancy. I lost my husband, Behzad Afsahi, when he was executed in 1984 by Ebrahim Raisi, the same year my brother Parviz Goudarzi was sentenced to prison, also by Raisi.
I lost Parviz during the massacre of 1988, when he became one of 30,000 political prisoners who were hanged in just a few months, 90 percent of whom were supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a prominent opposition group.
I have devoted my recent years to seeking justice for thousands of innocent souls who were killed by Ebrahim Raisi and his cohorts.
Raisi has proven, time and again, his allegiance to the supreme leader and his willingness to commit crimes against humanity to preserve the regime. As prosecutor of Hamedan province between 1982 and 1984, he decreed hundreds of executions. In 1988, he was one of the members of the three-man “Death Committee,” giving death sentences by the thousands in court sessions lasting only a few minutes. He is known infamously for being the “Henchman of the 1988 Massacre.”
Raisi was once again implicated in mass killings during the protests in November of 2019, this time as Prosecutor-General of Iran, when he was responsible for dozens of prisoners’ deaths under torture.
August 3rd marked one year since Ebrahim Raisi took office, having been promoted to this position by the supreme leader in order to quell protests and tighten the regime’s grip on power.
On August 4th, I relived the most terrifying memories of my beloved brother being executed in the last hours of this very day in 1988. The announcement of Raisi traveling to New York during this very difficult week comes as a shock to me, just as it does to countless Iranians who have lost friends and family.
The massacre was followed by international silence due to a policy of appeasement by the West. Its embrace of Iran’s murderous leaders, one after another, for three decades means that such barbarities could recur even now.
Instead of extending an invitation to Raisi, there should be a follow-up on the call of Javaid Rehman, the UN investigator on human rights in Iran, who has called for an independent inquiry into the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 and what role Raisi played.
In an interview with Reuters last year, Rehman said: “I think it is time and it’s very important now that Mr. Raisi is the president (-elect) that we start investigating what happened in 1988 and the role of individuals.”
“There is a widespread and systemic impunity in the country for gross violations of human rights, both historically in the past as well as in the present,” Rehman said.
7 U.S. Senators have also protested Raisi’s trip to the UN.
Since Ebrahim Raisi became Iran’s president, he has done what he was notorious for. The number of executions broke a new record and state terrorism is on the rise again. If the West doesn’t want to see a new upsurge in horrendous acts like the attempted killing of Salman Rushdie and others, the message to Tehran should be a lot clearer.
Declare the U.S.-sanctioned Ebrahim Raisi as persona non grata and announce that the UN General Assembly does not welcome human rights abusers and states who continue to pose a threat to other UN member states.
Antony Blinken and the Biden administration must refuse him the travel visa and bar his entry to the United States, as his presence would mean a license to kill.