In the final week of August alone, Iranian communities held rallies in at least six countries to draw attention to unresolved crimes against humanity and to condemn what opposition activists have dubbed Western “appeasement” strategies toward Iran’s regime.
Since it was revealed that Raisi might attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, supporters of Iran’s leading opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have been calling on the US government to deny him a visa. Their protests warn that granting him permission to visit and address an international audience risks legitimizing a criminal accused of serious crimes against humanity, both historical and recent.
Among the recent European and North American rallies, one in Toronto specifically served as a memorial to the victims of the 1988 massacre, just ahead of Canada’s “Day of Solidarity with Iranian Political Prisoners,” which parliament designated for September 1 in 2013.
That fact demonstrates how long the 1988 massacre went unresolved and unreported, despite being brought to the attention of the international community while it was still going on. Several UN human rights experts wrote an open letter to Iranian authorities on this topic in September 2020, acknowledging that the international body would be responsible for resolving the issue if Tehran continued to be unwilling to take its own actions to hold known perpetrators accountable.
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) September 4, 2022
The letter also described the Iranian regime as “emboldened” in its actions, confirming how the “appeasement” policy and western governments’ failure to vigorously pursue justice for Iranian terrorists and human rights violators have fuelled Iran’s impunity crisis.
Only one person involved in the 1988 massacre has faced meaningful accountability to date: Hamid Noury, a former Gohardasht Prison official who was arrested by Swedish authorities in 2019. The trial that followed was conducted under the guise of “universal jurisdiction” over serious violations of international law that have yet to be resolved anywhere in the world.
Terrorist diplomat Assadollah Assadi is currently serving a 20-year sentence in Belgium for his efforts to carry out a bomb attack against an Iranian expatriate gathering near Paris while serving as the Iranian embassy’s third counselor in Austria.
Three other people were arrested and sentenced to up to 18 years in prison in connection with the 2018 plot, which primarily aimed to assassinate Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition’s president-elect. Assadi’s trial established unequivocally that he was acting on orders from the Iranian regime’s highest officials.
Last month marked the first anniversary of Raisi’s inauguration, and the Iranian regime has only accelerated its various malign activities, both at home and abroad, over the course of that year.
If the Iranian regime receives any more messages reinforcing its sense of impunity, things will only get worse for the Iranian people and global security. The UN General Assembly’s embrace of Raisi would be among the clearest such messages, as it would imply ignoring the twentieth century’s worst unresolved crime against humanity, as well as a laundry list of similarly repressive actions that Raisi has either enabled or directly participated in.