Since the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi as the new chief of Iran’s judiciary, the human rights situation has swiftly deteriorated in the country.
At least 44 people were executed since he emerged as Iran’s Chief Justice.
One of Raisi’s latest crimes was the flogging and secret execution of two 17-year old juveniles.
Announced for the first time by Amnesty International, the executions were described as “deplorable” by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Several people were also executed for non-violent crimes.
The authorities secretly hanged four prisoners on drug-related charges in the Central Prison of Arak late last month.
The four prisoners executed on 29 April were Seyed Hamidreza Hosseinkhani, 37, Majid Kazemi, 42, Mohammad Hemmati, 26, and Mohammad Davoudabadi, 26.
This was just one day after university student Mohammad Bameri, 24, was executed for drug smuggling in the Central Prison of Kerman in order to earn a living.
On 27 April, Kamal Shahbakhsh was hanged in the same prison on drug-related charges, while two Baluch prisoners – Dorhan Heydari and Mirhan Shah Ghasemi – were executed in the central prison of Shiraz on murder and drug-related charges.
Arrests of rights activists
The scale of arrests, imprisonments and sentences issued for activists and their cruel treatment reveal the extreme lengths the Iranian regime has gone to crack down on peaceful dissent.
Several workers’ rights activists including teachers were arrested at rallies in Tehran on May 1 (International Labor Day) and May 2 (Iran’s Teachers’ Day). Several of them have remained in custody without access to legal counsel.
One of the main demands of labor activists in protests, which also occurred in several other Iranian cities, was raising the minimum wage.
In yet another case the Director General of the Intelligence Department in West Azerbaijan Province announced that dozens have been “dealt with” for communicating with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
In comments carried by the state-run Fars news agency, affiliated to the IRGC, the regime official declared that 60 people have been arrested for communicating with the PMOI, while 50 others have been identified and were given verbal warnings.
Mahmoud Alavi, the regime’s Minister of Intelligence, also announced that “over the past year, teams related to PMOI/MEK have been dealt with.”
Furthermore, Iran’s ministry of intelligence and the IRGC forces have arrested dozens of volunteer relief workers after working in flood-impacted areas in Iran.
After the country was hit by rounds of flooding in several provinces beginning in March 2019, the authorities warned citizens that they could be prosecuted for their online postings about the devastation.
In April, agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence organization arrested at least 11 Arab-Iranian volunteers as they were trying to help people in the flood-stricken village of Gurieh, Khuzestan Province, southwest Iran.
Also in April the state securitu forces in the town of Malashiyeh, Khuzestan Province, raided the area where a group of independent volunteer relief workers were stationed, arresting and transferring them to an unknown location.
Crackdown on women
The regime has stepped up its crackdown on women.
Women activists and political prisoners have not been exceptions.
The regime also summoned hundreds of drivers in Tehran to warn them against flouting the compulsory veil inside their cars.
Amnesty International issued a statement on1 8 April, 2019, urging the Iranian regime to stop harassing, arresting and imprisoning women’s rights defenders peacefully protesting against Iran’s degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws.
Amnesty International also reiterated in its statement, “The criminalization of women and girls for not wearing the veil is an extreme form of gender-based discrimination and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that deeply damages women’s dignity. Instead of persecuting and jailing women who are standing up to this outrageous injustice, Iran’s authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all women’s rights defenders detained for their peaceful activism.”
Appointment of ruthless deputies
Ebrahim Raisi dismissed Tehran’s prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi, included in the US Treasury and EU sanctions’ list, on 29 April, replacing him with Ali Alghassi-Mehr, formerly chief justice of Fars province since September 2014, and Shiraz’ prosecutor before that for three years. Alghassi is a proponent of public executions.
After listing of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist entity by the US State Department, Alghassi-Mehr announced that “he was an IRGC member too.”
Throughout his career, Alghasi-Mehr has taken an extremely hardliner approach to criminal justice, including by advocating public executions and amputations as a means of punishment.
He issued arrest warrants for truck drivers on a nationwide strike, he enforced the executions of nine prisoners forgiven by the victim’s family, defended the attacks on, killing and wounding of protesters in Kazerun, among other crimes.
Who is Ebrahim Raisi?
In early March, Ebrahim Raisi, accused of gross human rights violations was named chief of the judiciary and just days later he was elected deputy chief of the 88-member Assembly of Experts, the clerical body responsible for choosing the supreme leader.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the U.S. State Department blasted his appointment at the helm of the Judiciary, saying that he was involved in the “mass executions” of political prisoners in the 1980s.
The appointment “reflects the deteriorating human rights situation” in Iran, Human Rights Watch said in a statement, adding that Raisi “served on a four-person committee that ordered the execution of several thousand political prisoners in 1988.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said: “It’s disturbing and frankly frightening that [Raisi] will be overseeing justice and accountability in Iran.”
He “should be investigated for grave crimes, rather than investigating them,” she said.
Ebrahim Raisi, “involved in mass executions of political prisoners, was chosen to lead Iran’s judiciary. What a disgrace!” U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino tweeted on March 5 before he was officially appointed.
Iran has never fully acknowledged the executions, carried out on Khomeini’s orders, though other top officials were effectively in charge in the months before his 1989 death. Ebrahim Raisi reportedly served on a panel called “death commission” involved in sentencing the prisoners to death.