Iranian ‘butcher’ sworn in as president of Islamic Republic

Ebrahim Raisi, known as the ‘butcher of Tehran,’ was a member of the infamous 1988 death committee in Tehran, accused of sending thousands of “revolutionaries” to their deaths.

By Meira Svirsky, World Israel News

Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn in as the Islamic Republic’s sixth president, taking the oath before the Iranian parliament and representatives from more than 73 countries – including those from the European Union and Saudi Arabia.

His inauguration comes two days after an official ceremony where Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made Raisi’s ascension to power official and less than a week after Iran attacked an Israel-operated oil tanker in the Arabian Sea, killing two crew members, a British national and a Romanian citizen.

Raisi, 60, is infamously known as a member of the 1988 death committee in Tehran and has been personally accused of sending at least 3,000 “revolutionaries” to their deaths.

“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard.

More recently, as head of the judiciary branch of government in Iran, Callamard said that “Raisi has presided over a spiraling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained.”

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Under his watch, floggings and executions have become widespread in the country.

In addition, during the nationwide protests beginning at the end of 2019, Raisi oversaw the arrests, enforced disappearances and torture of thousands of protesters, Amnesty charges. Security forces, responsible for killing hundreds of men, women and children, were also given full immunity by Raisi for their crimes, the group contends after making a thorough investigation.

In the last decade, Raisi has become a favorite of Khamenei. Many see his election, essentially engineered by Khamenei, as a stepping stone to becoming Iran’s supreme leader when Khameni dies.

Domestically, Raisi will be ruling with no real mandate from the people, the majority of whom boycotted the election after Khamenei disqualified all of Raisi’s serious challengers. In line with Iran’s official hardline ideology, now present in every branches of the country’s government with Raisi’s election, the world should expect Iran’s new president to rule according to a vow he made in 2019.

“We will not only cut off the fingers but chop off the arms of the corrupt,” Raisi said at a videotaped 2019 rally for commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

At the rally, Raisi also praised the downing of an American drone, marking the move as a shift “to defiance instead of negotiations.”

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More recently, at his first press conference after his election, when asked if he would ever speak to U.S. President Joe Biden, Raisi answered with an emphatic, “No!”

Yet despite Iran’s and Raisi’s personal intransigence, the U.S. is keen to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran made with the world powers. And despite the fact that Iran has continually broken the terms of the agreement, Biden has indicated that, once back in the agreement – or even as an incentive to make such an agreement — he will lift the harsh sanctions imposed on Iran by his predecessor, Donald Trump, when Trump directed the United States to withdrew from the agreement in May of 2018.

During the expected negotiations to reach such an agreement, which came to a halt in the weeks after Raisi’s election, Raisi’s attitude of “defiance” is likely to be felt. In addition, Iran will most likely use as a cudgel the fact that a number of countries, including the United States, have ongoing sanctions against the new president for his 1988 role as a butcher of the Iranian people.