September 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s President Raisi to Address UN Despite Record of Atrocities

September 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s President Raisi to Address UN Despite Record of Atrocities

Latest Developments

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19. The planned speech comes despite Raisi’s record of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, particularly the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. The address also comes in the wake of the first anniversary of the Iranian morality police’s murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, which triggered nationwide protests against the clerical regime that continue to this day. The United States sanctioned Raisi in 2019.

Expert Analysis

“Raisi’s presence at the UN podium, particularly as Washington finalizes a hostage payment agreement with Iran, stands in stark contrast to the promises America made over one year ago to stand with the Iranian people, who have been protesting since last September. Rewarding a regime led by the likes of Raisi and Khamenei is a strategic, moral, and political own goal.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“Raisi is a mass murderer who wants to destroy the United States. The VIP treatment he receives, the softball interviews from mainstream media, and the enthusiasm of certain think-tankers to meet him all testify to the blindness of so many purported experts, who propagate the surreal illusion of befriending the mullahs in Tehran as realism. In reality, the Islamic Republic is our sworn enemy, and we need to utilize all elements of national power to defeat it.” — Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

The 1988 Massacre

Raisi — the deputy prosecutor general of Tehran from 1985 to 1988 — facilitated the regime’s 1988 slaughter of thousands of jailed political dissidents by serving on a four-member panel known as a Death Commission, which decided who would live and who would die. The commission would conduct interviews of prisoners — often just a few minutes long — aimed at determining their loyalty to the Islamic Republic. Questions could include: “What is your political affiliation?” “Do you pray?” “Are you willing to clear minefields for the Islamic Republic?” The wrong answer meant death.

The executions were usually by hanging or by firing squad, and typically took place the same day as the interrogations. The commissions allowed neither lawyers nor appeals. Burials occurred in unmarked mass graves. The regime waited months before notifying the relatives of the victims, refused to tell them the locations of the bodies, and told them not to mourn in public. The victims included women and children as young as 13. Raisi has defended the killings, saying in 2018 that they were “one of the proud achievements of the system.”

A Bloody Career

In the years following the massacre, Raisi continued his bloody career in the judiciary and elsewhere in the regime until he became president in 2021. He served as deputy chief justice (2004-2014), attorney general (2014-2016), and chief justice (2019-2021). In these capacities, he sought or presided over the prosecution, imprisonment, torture, and execution of countless detainees. From 2016 to 2019, Raisi served as the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, a massive business conglomerate with a real estate portfolio worth an estimated $20 billion, which effectively functions as a slush fund for Iran’s supreme leader.

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz

Iran’s Leading Presidential Candidate Has Committed Crimes Against Humanity,” by Tzvi Kahn

Ebrahim Raisi to Head Iran’s Judiciary,” by Tzvi Kahn

The U.S. Should Sanction Iran’s Key Slush Fund and Its Brutal Custodian,” by Tzvi Kahn


International Organizations Iran Iran Human Rights