First six months of Ebrahim Raisi as Justiciary Chief of Iran; 1000 years of prison sentences and 1500 lashes for activists

Posted on: September 13th, 2019

Ebrahim Raisi is a former Custodian and Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi from 2016 to 2019 and a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 executions which were series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across the country. He succeeded Sadegh Larijani as the Judiciary Chief (the head of judicial system of Iran) in 2019. Being appointed as the Judiciary Chief by the Supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi claimed that he wants the Iranian people to taste “the sweet flavor of justice” by reforming the judicial system to bring more justice and fairness. Six months after being appointed to the new position, the verdicts of political prisoners indicate that the pressure is increased on the civil rights activists and opposition groups in Iran. During six months of Ebrahim Raisi in office, political activists were sentenced to 1,027 years in prison and 1428 lashes.  Therefore, the verdicts targeting civil rights activists and opposition groups were increased by 119% compared to a similar time period during his predecessor, Sadegh Larijani, who was in office for nine and half years. Although Larijani faced massive demonstrations such as uprisings across the country in January 2017 and August 2018, protests in the Khuzestan province, and Dervishes protests which Raisi has not faced any yet.

Statistics Comparison of Verdicts with the Former Judiciary Chief

The following is a summary of verdicts between March 8, 2019 to September 8, 2019 which was gathered and analyzed by the Department of Statistics and Publication of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI): According to statistics, during this period, both sentences against political and civil activists or years of sentences were increased. 211 political or civil activists including advocates of freedom of expression, women rights activists, syndicates activists, students, ethnicity rights activists, labor rights activists, minority rights advocates, and religion activists were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court across the country to 1027 and six months of imprisonment, 418 million and 350 thousand Tomans of fines, and 428 lashes. Out of these numbers, 966 years and 8 months in prison sentences and 30 years and 10 months are suspended prison sentences. In comparison to the same period when Larijani was the Judiciary Chief, March 8 to September 8, 2018, 278 political and civil activists were sentenced to 468 years and one month in prison, 254 million Tomans fines, and 891 lashes. This comparison is based on the numbers of individual cases but mass sentences for the arrestees of uprisings such as 232 verdicts of Gonabadi dervishes in the case of so-called “Golestan Haftom” have been excluded. Overall, these statistics indicated that although the number of arrestees has been decreased in Raisi’s term but the average number of verdicts in comparison to the same period in the Larijani’s term has been increased.

The Names of 211 Activists Who Were Sentenced to Prison Term or Lashes During Ebrahim Raeissi’s term

Kiumars Marzban, Shima Babai Zeydi, Dariush Abdar, Mahmood Masoumi, Behnam Mousavand, Saeed Eghbali, Mojgan Lali, Saeed Seyfi Jahan, Shaghayegh Makai, Nader Afshari, Anoushah Ashouri, Ali Johari, Marzieh Amiri, Ishaq Rouhi, Mohammad Saber Malek Raeissi, Shir Ahmad Shirani, Kamal Jafari Yazdi, Aras Amiri, Nejat Bahrami, Sadegh Zibaklam, Hamed Ayenehvand, Roozbeh Meshkinkhat, Mohammad Reza Aghajari, Nima Saffar, Khalil Karimi, Mehdi Moghadari, Golraki Ebrahimi Irai, Athena Daemi, Mohammad Reza Khatami, Mohammad Potaiesh, Khadijeh (Leila) Mirghafari, Reza Makian (Malek), Hashem Zeinali, Simin Eyvazzadeh, Ehsan Kheybar, Abdul Azim Arouji, Mohsen Haseli, Mohsen Shojai, Azam Najafi, Parvin Soleimani, Sharmin Yomni, Sara Saei, Arshia Rahmati, Masoud Hamidi, Ali Babai, Ismail Hosseini Koohkamarai, Farideh Toosi, Zahra Modarreszadeh, Amir Mahdi Jalayeri, Mohammad Najafi, Javad Lari, Rahim Mohammadpour, Masoud Kazemi, Sahar Kazemi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Milad Mohammad Hosseini, Abdollah Ghasimpour, Mohammad Hossein Ghasempour, Alireza Habibi, Baktash Abtin, Reza Khand Mahabadi, Keyvan Bajan, Yousef Salahshour, Davood Mahmoodi, Mohammad Asri, Siavash Rezaian, Najaf Mehdipour, Behrooz Zare, Ata’ollah Ahsani, Abbas Nouri Shadkam, Ali Bagheri, Masoud Ajloo, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Kianoush Ghahramani, Nariman Noroozi, Rezvaneh Ahmad Khanbeigi, Amir Mahdi Sedighara, Ali Amin Amlashi, Barzan Mohammadi, Arsham Rezai, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Michael White, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Nader Fotourehchi, Farhad Sheykhi, Mardas Taheri, Aliyeh Eghdam Doost, Rasoul Bodaghi, Esmail Gerami, Javad Zolnouri, Hossein Gholami, Rahman Abed, Asghar Amirzadegani, Hamid Reza Rahmati, Eghbal Shabani, Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Bahman Kord, Sina Darvish Omran, Ali Mozafari, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Mojtaba Dadashi, Mohammad Rasoulof, Hossein Janati, Omid Asadi, Sahand Moali, Mohammad Mirzai, Bapir Barzeh, Shirko Ali Mohammadi, Keyvan Nejadrasoul, Tohid Amir Amini, Kianoush Aslani, Abbas Lesani, Mobinollah Veysi, Mojtaba Parvin, Kazem Safabakhsh, Rahim Gholami, Jafar Rostami, Aref Mohammadi, Peyman Mirzazadeh, Samko Jafari, Behzad Shahsavar, Siamand Shahsavar, Salman Afra, Shaker Maravi, Khaled Hosseini, Rasoul Taleb Moghadam, Hasan Saeedi, Hossein Ansari Zadeh, Feisal Saalebi, Saab Zahiri, Adel Samaei, Esmail Jaadeleh, Bani Naami, Omid Azadi, Rostam Abdollah Zadeh, Ali Bani Sadeh, Nasrin Javadi, Tofigh Mahmoudi, Davood Razavi, Amanollah Balochi, Farough Izadi Nia, Moein Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Malaki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, Bahman Salehi, Sofia Mombini, Negin Tadrisi, Kheirollah Bakhshi, Shabnam Issa Khani, Shahryar Khodapanah, Farzad Bahadori, Kambiz Misaghi, Monika Alizadeh, Mino Riazati, Asadollah Jaberi, Ehteram Sheykhi, Emad Jaberi, Farideh Jaberi, Farokhlegha Faramarzi, Pooneh Nasheri, Saba Kord Afshari, Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, Mojgan Keshavarz, Vida Movahed, Matin Amiri, Maryam Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Edris Kasravi, Taher Sufi, Haleh Safarzadeh, Alireza Saghafi, Yousef Jalil, Fatemeh Bakhtari, Zaman Fadai, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Mohsen Haghshenas, Nahid Khodakarami, Raheleh Rahimipour, Alireza Kafai, Mohammad Dorosti, Salar Taher Afshar, Oldoz Ghasemi, Jafar Azimzadeh, Hossein Habibi, Hossein Ghadyani, Mir Mousa Ziagari, Sajad Shahiri, Jafar Pekand , Hamid Balkhkanloo, Ghafour Barham, Vali Nasiri, Sahar Khodayari, Amin Seybar, Esmael Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, Mohammad Khanifar.

It should be noted that in addition to aforementioned names, several other activists such as detained environmentalists, arrestees of the International Labor Day’s protest, Baha’i citizens, and supporters of opposition groups are waiting for their verdicts. Based on the outcome of the first six months of Raisi as the Chief Justice of Iran, the continuous increase of the verdicts in the following six months is predictable. On the other hand, according to several lawyers, Raisi is trying to implement a rule in which the appeal’s courts will be in session only after obtaining permissions from the Supreme Leader. Thus, appeals courts will acknowledge the primary verdict without reserving a chance for lawyers and convict to defend.

Ebrahim Raisi’s Background

In 1981, 20-year old Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as the prosecutor of Karaj. Later in 1985, he was appointed as the Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran. He was a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 political prisoners’ executions across the country. Raisi was appointed as Tehran’s prosecutor from 1989 to 1994. In 1994-1995, he was appointed as the head of the General Inspection Office. From 2004 until 2014, Raisi served as the First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran. He was later appointed as the Attorney-General of Iran in 2014-2016. He has also served as the Special Clerical Court prosecutor since 2012. He became the Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi on 7 March 2016 after the death of his predecessor Abbas Vaez-Tabasi. He is the second person to serve this office from 1979.  Raisi ran a presidential campaign in February 2017 but after losing the presidential election, he was appointed by Ali Khamenei as a member of Expediency Discernment Council.

The 1988 executions of the Iranian political prisoners were a series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners, starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting for approximately five months. The majority of those who were killed were supporters of the Mujahedin Khalgh but supporters of other leftist factions such as Communist party were executed as well. The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in the modern Iranian history, both in terms of scope and coverup. Different sources put the number of victims between 2500 and 30000. Most of the people who were executed had already served their sentences in prison. Hussein-Ali Montazeri, deputy of Supreme Leader of Iran between 1985-1989, named Ebrahim Raisi as one of the people who was in administration of the executions which according to Montazeri, was implemented by a four-men commission, later known as the “death committee”. According to Montazeri, the commission consisted of Ebrahim Raisi, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi, and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.

Justice Delayed: The massacre of political prisoners in Iran

Posted on: September 21st, 2012

HRANA News Agency – Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran 1988, is  one of the darkest human rights violations in Iranian history. WNN Iranian reporter Elahe Amani shares insight and history into the increasing need for Iranian government accountability.

1988 is a year that thousands of political prisoners were executed in Iran followed by dumping their bodies in a mass grave in the outskirt of Tehran. Who were these prisoners in Iran?  What crimes did they commit? Why were they executed en masse?

The systematic execution of thousands of political prisoners across Iran by the government of Iran began on July 19, 1988, lasting about five months. A majority of the prisoners, men and women, were young political opponents to the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Many received their sentences, yet they were executed in masses in extreme secrecy.

Ervand Abrahamian, the renowned historian in “Tortured Confessions,” (1999), called the executions an “act of violence unprecedented in Iranian history — unprecedented in form, content, and intensity.” Amnesty International in its report, “Violations of Human Rights 1987 – 1990,” provides a glimpse into the scope of these executions.

In its report Amnesty states: “Another major aspect of the death penalty in Iran is its extensive use against political opponents. In contrast with criminal executions, which often take place in public and are usually announced in the official media, political executions are usually carried out in secret. For this reason the numbers of political executions which have taken place in Iran are disputed. Amnesty International has recorded the names of over 2,000 prisoners reported to have been the victims of a wave of secret political executions between July 1988 and January 1989. Amnesty International has no way of knowing the full extent of the massacre of political prisoners which took place during this six-month period. However, the organization has interviewed dozens of Iranians whose imprisoned relatives were killed at that time and has received written information about hundreds of other prisoners who were among the victims.”

At the time Amnesty International also spoke to eye-witnesses who were political prisoners in Iran while the mass killings were being carried out. Evidence has also emerged from Iranian government circles. In particular, letters written in July 1988 toAyatollah Khomeiniby Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, then the designated successor as leader of the Islamic Republic, referring to “thousands of executions in a few days” (Reuters, 29 March 1989).

The Ayatollah Montazeri is also reported to have said: “Many are the innocents and minor offenders who were executed following your last order” (Reuters, 29 March 1989). Taken together, Amnesty International believes that there is overwhelming evidence that in the latter part of 1988 the Iranian government carried out the largest wave of political executions.” Anotherdocumentpublished by Amnesty International on the occasion of the 20thanniversary of the massacre in 2008, confirmed that “starting in August 1988 and continuing until shortly before the tenth anniversary of the Islamic revolution in February 1989, the Iranian authorities carried out massive wave of executions of political prisoners – the largest since those carried out in the first and second year after the Iranian revolution in 1979. In all between 4,500 and 5,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed, including women.”

While these systematic mass executions were carried out with great secrecy and the statesmen in power denied it happened, the operation was leaked by survivors, and at least one of the mass graves was accidentally found by an Armenian man passing by the area.

This burial site is now called “Khavaran.” Despite the fact that the shocking executions of political prisoners are now undeniable, those who were holding key government positions at the time remain silent; or continue to imply that it was in response to the violence instigated by the Mujahedeen in the western borders of Iran.

Despite all the obstacles to holding the Iranian government accountable for these crimes, seeking human rights justice has moved from the margin to the center of global awareness within the last 24 years, and many of the narratives and testimonies of Iranian political prisoners and their families have been recorded. The annual memorial conferences by Iranians in exile; the efforts of human rights organizations; and this summer’sInternational Tribunal for Iran – 1980s Massacre of Political Prisonersare all steps forward in fully understanding the scope, intensity and magnitude of the massacres in Iran during 1980s, and in particular in summer of 1988.

The word is now out about these political crimes.

Many survivors are daring to come forward now about one of the darkest human rights violations in Iranian history. According to Geoffery Robertson, a human rights lawyer, academic and author of “Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice” who wrote a 146 page comprehensive report titled “ Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran 1988” and who also sat as an appeal judge at the United Nations said the UN reverted to silence in the case of the mass executions in Iran.

“The UN did not bother about Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas atHalabjaearlier that year, and it turned a deaf ear to Amnesty reports about the prison slaughter (Iranian diplomats claimed the deaths had occurred in battle). But there is no statute of limitations on prosecuting crimes against humanity, and the mass murder of prisoners already serving sentences for political protests must count as one of the gravest of unpunished crimes,” said Robertson in a June 2010 op-ed for The Guardian News.

If one searches “Massacre of political prisoners in Iran” in Google these are the results:

7/1/1988         7/1/1998          3          (In the first decade )

7/1/1998         7/1/2008         47        (In the second decade)

7/1/2008         7/1/2012         1,540   (only first 4 years of 3rd decade)

While the results of the search are not an exact measure, they reflect the fact that the world is becoming more aware of the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran.

Geoffery Robertson also stated in 2010 that: “Most of the judges and officials who implemented the fatwa are still in high office in Tehran – under a supreme leader who, when asked about killing prisoners replied: ‘Do you think we should have given them sweets?’ There is still time for the UN Security Council to enforce international law by setting up a court to try the perpetrators of the prison massacres. This may be a better way to deal with a theocracy whose behavior in 1988 provides the best reason for concern over its future behavior with nuclear weapons.”

Knowledge about these crimes against the very soul of humanity requires the global community to hold the government of Iran accountable for these crimes.

Justice will not be served until all those who orchestrated one of the most appalling human rights violations in Iranian history are brought to justice. It is only then that the families of the victims may have closure and begin to heal the wounds of their loss.  As Bertrand Russell said inthe opening of the Vietnam War Crimes Tribunalon November 13, 1966, “May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence.”

While justice has been delayed for 24 years many feel as though impunity has won, history tells us otherwise.  ”Crimes against humanity,” first defined at Nuremberg, is a phrase that has become the key to unlocking the closed door of state sovereignty, enabling all of us in the international human rights community to bring tyrants and torturers to heel.

As in the case of Argentina and Chile, we must continue to hold those who ordered and those who carried out the orders for these crimes responsible and accountable for their human rights violations.

Accountability provides justice for victims, and also helps to ensure that past atrocities and political crimes are not repeated.


©2012 This Article was republished from WNN – Women News Network with permission.


Elahe Amani is President of the Society of Human Rights in Iran (Southern California) and Chair of Global Circles for Women’s Intercultural Network.  Elahe is a well published writer both in English and Persian on issues related to Human Rights, Status of women in South and West Asia particularly Iran and Afghanistan, violence against women, social justice for women of color in US and peace in public and private, local and global.   Many of her articles are published by Women News Network.  Currently she holds the position of Director of Technology Services for Student Affairs at California State University Fullerton.