Former UN judges and investigators have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to look into the 1988 “massacre” of political prisoners in Iran, including the suspected complicity of the country’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, at the time.
The open letter, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was signed by 460 persons, including Sang-Hyun Song, a former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Stephen Rapp, a former US ambassador for global criminal justice.
Raisi, who assumed office in August, is subject to US sanctions because of his alleged role as one of four judges who supervised the 1988 executions, according to the US and campaigners. On Thursday, his office in Tehran had no reaction.
Iran has never admitted that executions occurred under the reign of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary leader who died in 1989.
According to Amnesty International, around 5,000 people have been executed, with the organization anticipating that “the true figure might be higher” in a 2018 study.
“The culprits continue to walk free.” The current Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, and the head of the judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, are among them,” according to the open letter. Ejei took over as head of Iran’s judiciary when Raisi stepped down.
When confronted about activists’ claims that he was implicated in the deaths, Raisi responded in June 2021, saying, “If a judge, a prosecutor has maintained the security of the people, he should be commended.” “I am pleased to have championed human rights in every role I have had so far,” he continued.
The letter was also delivered to the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 member nations begin a five-week session on Feb. 28. It was coordinated by the British-based organisation Justice for Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran.
Other signatories include former UN torture investigators and foreign ministers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Kosovo, and Poland.
In an interview with Reuters in June, Javaid Rehman, the UN investigator on human rights in Iran who is expected to report to the session, urged for an impartial investigation into claims of state-ordered executions in 1988 and Raisi’s position as Tehran deputy prosecutor.