Global statement denouncing Ebrahim Raisi’s planned appearance at UN Geneva

Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) on Tuesday sent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset a statement co-signed by 450 former world leaders, judges, Nobel laureates, former UN officials, human rights and legal experts and NGOs, denouncing Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s planned participation in the 2023 Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on 13 December 2023.

The signatories pointed out that Raisi should be investigated for his role in the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners.

Text of the statement:

A Call for Accountability

We express our deep concern regarding the planned participation of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in the upcoming 2023 Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on 13 December 2023.

Raisi was a key perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. His presence at the UN forum contradicts the fundamental values the UN stands for.

Human rights organisations have called for the prosecution of Raisi for his involvement in crimes against humanity as a member of the Tehran Death Commission during the 1988 mass extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances of political prisoners. At the time, the then-Supreme Leader issued a decree ordering the execution of all political prisoners affiliated to the main opposition group PMOI/MEK. There are reports that as many as 30,000 political prisoners from various opposition groups, predominantly associated with this organisation, were executed.

International bodies, including the UN’s Special Procedures, have condemned the 1988 extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances as ongoing crimes against humanity, advocating for a comprehensive international investigation into Raisi’s role. Allowing an individual with such a grievous human rights record to participate in a reputable international forum will only solidify the culture of impunity within Iran.

Raisi is also known for the killing of 1,500 protesters in November 2019 while he was head of the judiciary and for the killing of 750 individuals and the arrest of 30,000 during the 2022 uprising under his presidency. On 6 December 2023, Amnesty International issued a shocking 120-report containing interviews with 45 men, women and children “who were subjected to rape, gang rape and/or other forms of sexual violence by intelligence and security forces following their arbitrary arrest for challenging decades of oppression and entrenched gender-based discrimination.”

In the past two months alone, Iranian authorities have executed at least 212 prisoners, including seven political prisoners, three women, one juvenile offender and a 17-year-old boy. At least three of those executions took place in public.

The Iranian government under Raisi is also responsible for a new scheme to suppress and intimidate members of the MEK opposition outside Iran by holding show trials in absentia and thus extending its suppression beyond its borders.

We firmly believe that the United Nations, as a bastion of human rights and justice, should not compromise its reputation by extending an invitation to an individual accused of grave human rights violations. We respectfully urge the UNHCR to reconsider and promptly rescind its invitation to Raisi.

We support the call for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated and prosecuted for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise Universal Jurisdiction.