Distinguished UN Leaders Demand Cancellation of Tribute to Former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi


Contact: JVMI info@iran1988.org

Citing Grave Human Rights Abuses, 45 Officials Urge UN to Stand with Victims

London – 29 May 2024 – A coalition of 45 distinguished current and former United Nations Ambassadors, Judges, experts, and officials have issued an urgent open letter addressed to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and General Assembly President Dennis Francis, demanding the cancellation of a planned tribute to former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. The tribute, scheduled for 30 May, has sparked outrage due to Raisi’s direct and personal involvement in extensive and egregious human rights violations.

Initiated by Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI), the letter details Raisi’s participation in or oversight of:

  • The 1988 massacre of up to 30,000 political prisoners: Raisi was a member of the “Death Commissions” in Tehran that carried out these executions.
  • Deadly crackdowns on protesters: Raisi directed the violent suppression of demonstrations in 2019 and 2022, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
  • Persecution of women and girls: Raisi oversaw the brutal enforcement of compulsory veiling laws.

Signatories of the letter include former Presidents of the UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council, distinguished former UN Judges, current and former members of the UN Special Procedures, and eight former Ambassadors to the UN, emphasising the broad international concern over this issue. They argue that honouring Raisi would undermine the UN’s core principles and embolden the culture of impunity in Iran.

Key Quotes from the Letter:

  • “Raisi should have faced criminal investigation for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture, according to human rights groups. His death does not absolve the international community of its responsibility to seek truth and accountability for his victims.”
  • “We urge you to intervene and cancel the planned tribute. Instead, use this moment to speak out in support of the victims and reiterate the UN’s commitment to accountability and justice. The international community must act now to establish pathways to accountability for crimes under international law committed by Raisi and other Iranian officials.”

Call to Action:

The coalition urges the UN to:

  • Cancel the planned tribute to Ebrahim Raisi.
  • Publicly acknowledge and condemn the mass executions and human rights abuses for which he was directly responsible.
  • Support international efforts to investigate and prosecute other officials responsible for crimes against humanity in Iran.


  • Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) is a London-based NGO dedicated to seeking accountability for the mass executions and disappearances of political prisoners in Iran.
  • In 1988, the government of Iran massacred 30,000 political prisoners. The executions took place based on a fatwa by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, targeting the main opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK). Three-member commissions known as ‘Death Commissions’ were formed across Iran sending political prisoners who refused to abandon their beliefs to execution. Members of other leftist groups were also executed in a subsequent second wave. The victims were buried in secret mass graves. The perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity. Since 2016, the names of nearly 100 ‘Death Commission’ members have been made public. Many still hold senior positions in the Iranian judiciary or government.


CLICK HERE for the full text of the Open Letter

CLICK HERE for the biographies of the signatories to the Open Letter