Protests over the brutal murder of a young woman by Iran’s morality police continued for a sixth day on Wednesday, casting a shadow over the regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi’s, visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Organization of Iranian-American Communities held a rally in a park across from the United Nations Headquarters in the United States. The OIAC displayed photographs of about 2,000 victims of Iran’s 1988 massacre of political prisoners, in which Raisi played a key role as a member of the Tehran “death commission.” It is estimated that 30,000 people were killed in the massacre across the country.
On Wednesday, the Iranian opposition held a larger rally in Dag Hammarskjold Park, with thousands of people demanding that Raisi be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Prior to Raisi’s arrival, 16 Iranian expatriates filed a civil lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to facilitate legal accountability and highlight evidence that could be used in a criminal trial.
With the exception of Hamid Noury, a former Iranian prison official and comparatively low-level participant in the death commission’s process, no one has ever been held accountable for the 1988 massacre.
September 22 – Tehran, #Iran
Locals continue the nationwide protests against the regime on the 7th day of the uprising.
"Death to the dictator!"
"I will kill those who killed my sister!"#IranProtests #MahsaAminipic.twitter.com/C8tWQTR6go
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) September 22, 2022
Another reason why Raisi should be prosecuted by UN member states is the death of Mahsa Amini. A photograph of Ms. Amini was reportedly included among the other photographs in Dag Hammarskjold Park on Tuesday, and Fox News quoted one participant in the accompanying rally as saying, “People are demonstrating against the government as we speak… saying ‘Death to Raisi.'” We are simply echoing the desires of the Iranian people…”
On September 13, Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was arrested. She went into a coma shortly after being taken to be “convinced and educated,” and she died three days later. As a result, videos and eyewitness reports of aggressive and violent behavior by the morality police, have proliferated on social media. Simultaneously, authorities obstructed efforts to obtain objective information about the circumstances surrounding her death.
Her father, Amjad, reported being separated from Mahsa’s body and eventually being allowed to see it only when it was almost completely covered to hide bruises. Post-mortem photographs, on the other hand, appeared to show discoloration around the ear, which is consistent with a strong blow to the head.
Aside from the possibility of visible marks on her body, authorities were also concerned that her funeral could serve as a catalyst for anti-regime protests. Indeed, the regime has attempted to impose restrictions on a number of high-profile decedents’ funerals, as well as post-mortem memorial services.
Following protests since Mahsa’s funeral proved the regime’s fears were justified. Protests over Mahsa’s murder and the underlying repression spread to a dozen cities, and reports indicate that a few other protesters were killed.
The ongoing protests in Iran indicate a restive society, and many Iranian state media outlets have warned of an impending explosion. Iranians blame the regime and its officials for four decades of systematic crimes. The ball is now in the international community’s court. Would they support the Iranian people or continue to deny that Iran is on the verge of a revolution?