Iranian regime’s sham presidential election will take place on June 18. It is clear from now that the current head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, a mass murderer and a member of the “death commission” of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, will be installed as the new president of the regime.
In the aftermath of the election, Iranian expatriates will gather with political supporters from throughout the world to once again emphasize that an alternative to the theocratic dictatorship in Iran already exists in the form of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
In November 2019 uprising regime opened fire on crowds of protesters, killing approximately 1,500 in a matter of only days. This was followed, for months afterward, by the systematic torture of known and suspected pro-democracy activists, as detailed in an Amnesty International report titled Trampling Humanity. That torture notably reflected the brutal policies adopted by the judiciary under the leadership of Ebrahim Raisi, who is now poised to promote similar brutality from an even more influential position as the country’s next president.
Raisi’s ascendance to that position is effectively a foregone conclusion because he has received the unequivocal backing of the supreme leader. This fact led to the Guardian Council exercising its vetting power by barring hundreds of prospective candidates and leaving only Raisi and six fairly minor figures, all members of the hardline or “principlist” faction, and none considered a realistic threat to Raisi.
Raisi’s virtually uncontested presidential campaign signifies that this year’s election will be different from others. The NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairman said as much in a press conference in May, which predicted the renewal of popular unrest in the elections’ wake and called for Western governments to put their weight behind that unrest and “stand on the right side of history and with the Iranian people in their quest for freedom.”
Raisi’s role in overseeing the crackdown on dissent after the November 2019 uprising was only one of many examples of his contempt for human rights and his obsession with stamping out dissent by any available means. In the summer of 1988 alone, Raisi was responsible for a substantial portion of the 30,000 deaths that are believed to have resulted from the systematic interrogation and hanging of political prisoners, especially members of the MEK.
Raisi’s current position and his prospective attainment of the presidency are both indicative of a trend whereby participants in that massacre have been continually rewarded for more than 30 years. As acknowledged by a letter that UN human rights experts sent to Iranian authorities last September, the international community bears responsibility for the impunity that underlies that trend, because no coordinated action has ever been taken to sanction the criminals, much less prosecute them at the International Criminal Court.
Mohaddessin explicitly encouraged Western policymakers to prioritize this sort of action as part of a broader effort to “end appeasement and adopt a firm approach” in advance of the popular unrest that he is sure will grow out of the June 18 election.
Some Iranian state media outlets are seemingly anticipating similar unrest, with widespread non-participation in the election as a precursor. The Iranian regime already set a record low for voter turnout during parliamentary elections in February 2020.
The MEK and NCRI have long advocated for electoral boycotts in the past, and their reach was no doubt amplified by the uprisings that were taking place as recently as two months before the latest election.
The MEK resistance units inside Iran have led a widespread campaign to reiterate its call for the Iranian people to avoid the polls and instead “vote for regime change.” When the people respond to that call, they will have considerable support from the international community. It is time for the Western governments to follow suit before the Raisi era begins.