With the clerical regime paving the way for Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, the preferred candidate of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, he runs virtually uncontested for president.
Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi to head the Iranian regime’s judiciary on February 26, 2019.
Raisi’s first two years as judiciary chief (2019-2021) have been marked by intensified repression and rights violations. Particularly women were subjected to harsher repression.
Iranian women experienced violations of fundamental rights; lack of free social activity; and torture, arrest, and imprisonment during his tenure.
Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi participated in the crackdown of November 2019 protests through the imprisonment, torture, and repression of thousands of protesters. He issued so many prison sentences and ordered executions by torture after forced confessions. In 2019, the U.S. Treasury under President Donald Trump sanctioned Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi “for his administrative oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran.”
key perpetrator of 1988 massacre
He was a key perpetrator of the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. Ebrahim Raisi was the deputy prosecutor general of Tehran in 1988 and a member of the Tehran “death commission”, which paved the way for the extrajudicial execution of 30,000 political prisoners.
At that time, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a former deputy to Iran’s first Supreme Leader Khomeini, condemned the killings, saying in an audio recording: “In my view, the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us, has been committed at your hands, and they’ll write your names as criminals in the history.”
After the massacre of prisoners (most of whom were members of the PMOI/MEK) in the summer of 1988, Raisi served as Tehran’s Revolutionary Prosecutor, Head of the National Inspectorate, First Deputy of the Judiciary, Special Prosecutor for the Clergy, Chairman of the State Television Supervisory Council, Attorney General, Custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, and Head of the Judiciary.
Issuing death and flogging sentences against Iranian women
Death sentences and floggings for Iranian women during the tenure of Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi:
- Execution of at least 30 women
- 1,620 lash sentences for at least 24 women including labor and student activists, athletes, journalists, lawyers, and protesters.
cases in point
Salbi Marandi, 80, received 70 lashes on November 28, 2019 in the Judiciary Enforcement Office in Khoy for following up on her imprisoned child’s status. After suffering lashes that left her paralyzed, she was transferred to Khoy Prison to serve 8 months.
In another case of extreme brutality, Zohreh Sarv, a political prisoner was lashed in the notorious Qarchak Prison on April 8, 2021, in Tehran, before going on leave. She was lashed 74 times, despite the lashing sentence having been altered to a fine which she had paid for. She was told she could go on leave only on the condition that her flogging sentence was carried out.
Mistreatment of Political Prisoners
During the tenure of Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi women political prisoners were subjected to harsh treatment including physical and psychological torture, forced confessions, denial of medical treatment and unlawful exile to prisons far from their families.
Example of torture of women prisoners:
- Lamia Hamadi was subjected to severe torture during her detention. Officers burned her with electric prods. After lengthy torture, she was transferred to Tehran Intelligence, where she endured 6 months of torture and interrogation before being transferred to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz.
- Political prisoner Massoumeh Senobari was arrested on February 24, 2019 and subjected to savage tortures under interrogation. She suffered a broken leg, fracture of the sole of her foot, blurry vision, etc. during this time. She also contracted the Coronavirus while in detention in the Central Prison of Tabriz. The authorities have prevented her treatment despite cancer and heart problems.
- Political prisoner Zahra Safaei is in dire health conditions, as the authorities have prevented her urgent dispatch to a hospital. She has been repeatedly attacked by inmates hired by Qarchak Prison authorities. Her life is in grave danger as this political prisoner is being detained among prisoners convicted of violent crimes in violation of the principle of separation of different categories of crimes. Political prisoner Zahra Safaei suffered a heart stroke on October 27, 2020, after being harassed and intimidated by prison authorities.
- Environmental activists Niloufar Bayani and Sepideh Kashani were subjected to intense psychological and psychological torture and threats of physical torture and sexual abuse during 1200 hours of interrogation. In a letter written in February 2020, Niloufar Bayani described the interrogations and wrote, the agents forced her to “mimic sounds of wild animals” and threatened to inject her with “crippling ampoules and air ampoules. They threatened her to write forced confessions. Bayani also wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei on February 11, 2019, describing how she was treated by IRGC interrogators. She said seven armed men took her to a villa in Lavasan, north Tehran, and forced her to “watch them engage in immoral and un-Islamic behavior in a private swimming pool.”
Filing new cases against political prisoners to keep them behind bars
To keep political prisoners behind bars despite completing their sentences, judicial authorities issued new charges and rushed convictions without any semblance of due process against them under Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi.
On April 8, 2019, political prisoner Golrokh Iraee Ebrahimi was released from prison after completing a sentence she was serving since October 2016 for writing a fictional story that she had never published, and for her Facebook posts.
As she left Tehran’s Evin Prison, she was forced to post bail of 60 million tomans (14,242 USD) for a new case brought against herby the director of Evin Prison for writing open letters criticizing prison conditions and condemning the executions of political prisoners. In July 2019, Judge Iman Afshari of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced her to 3.7 years in prison for “insulting the supreme leader” (2.1 years) and “propaganda against the state” (1.6 years). Based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, they each must serve 2.1 years of the total sentence. The sentence was subsequently upheld on appeal. On November 9, 2019, she was arrested taken to the Gharchak Prison in Varamin to begin her new sentence.
Civil rights activist Atena Daemi should have been freed on July 4, 2020. But a lower court sentenced her in July 2019 (along with fellow civil rights activist Golrokh Sadeghi Iraee, see below) to additional 3.7 years in prison. Daemi was sentenced to two more years in prison and 74 lashes, confirmed to Daemi’s lawyer on June 30, 2020, in a separate case which is currently being appealed.
Arrest and detention of protesters
Under Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, the regime arrested thousands of protesters, dissidents and activists and sent them to prisons, where they were subjected to brutal torture. Relatives of slain protesters and prisoners after these protests have not been spared from these pressures.
- The families of at least three martyrs from the November 2019 uprising (Shabnam Dayani, Azadeh Zarbi, and Farzad Ansarifar) have been threatened and warned to remain silent in the face of the killing of their loved ones. They were instructed to say that the cause of their loved ones’ deaths was an accident or a natural disaster.
- Meanwhile, Fatemeh Davand, one of the protesters arrested in Bukan in November 2019, was transferred to Urmia Central Prison. Bukan City Court sentenced her to 5 years and 5 months in prison, as well as 30 lashes. Fatemeh Davand, 42, is the mother of three children.
- In another example, agents from the Ahvaz Department of Intelligence arrested Mrs. Badrieh Hamidavi on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Mrs. Hamidavi was the mother of a young man, Ali Tamimi, who had been killed by security forces in November 2019.
Family members of the victims of the Ukrainian flight have also been under pressure since the mullahs’ regime downed the aircraft in January 2020.
According to Human Rights Watch, several families said officials, often in plain clothes, attended public and private memorial services for their loved ones. The families also said that the authorities did not allow them to see their loved ones’ bodies.
Lack of accountability under Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi
State security forces killed at least 1,500 demonstrators, including 400 women, in November 2019 with impunity.
More than 12,000 demonstrators were arrested in the aftermath of the protests. Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi is responsible for the imprisonment, torture, and repression of Iranian demonstrators.
No regime official has been charged for the shooting down of a Ukrainian commercial airliner in January 2020.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down by an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) air defence missile battery shortly after it took off from Tehran’s international airport.
Interrogators continued to torture and harassment of prisoners with impunity. None of the interrogators and other detention facility officials who are responsible for the abuse of prisoners have not been subjected to disciplinary measures or criminal prosecution.