Joint Letter Highlights Raisi’s Atrocious Human Rights Record

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Dozens of Iranian human activists, including lawyers, doctors, journalists, academics, and a Nobel Peace Laureate, have signed an open letter urging the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to cancel a planned tribute this week to Ebrahim Raisi, the former president of Iran who died in a helicopter crash on May 19, 2024, alongside Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The activists’ letter underscores Raisi’s egregious human rights abuses, including his involvement in the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s and his severe repression of political dissent during his presidency. They called on the UNGA to “reconsider any plans to memorialize Raisi.”

This appeal follows similar calls by Iranian Nobel Peace laureates Shirin Ebadi and Narges Mohammadi, the latter of whom remains imprisoned in Iran for her peaceful advocacy of human rights.

The complete letter, including its list of initial signatories of May 28, 2024, has been reprinted below.

Do Not Commemorate Human Rights Violator Ebrahim Raisi

Your Excellency, Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly,

 We, a collective of Iranian human rights advocates, including some former political prisoners,  family members and friends of the victims who have witnessed or documented the atrocities committed by Ibrahim Raisi or under his command, are deeply concerned and profoundly indignant regarding the proposed commemoration for him.

As you might be aware, Ibrahim Raisi played a pivotal role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners over decades, as well as the brutal suppression of protests, women’s movements, freedom advocates, and minorities in Iran.

His tenure was marked by egregious human rights violations, including:

1. Being a key member of the “Death Committees,” which signed and ordered the mass execution of over 4,500 political prisoners in less than two months in 1988. Report of Amnesty International (Ministers of Murder: Iran’s New Security Cabinet (November 2005) Report of Human Rights Watch

2. His involvement in the shooting down of Flight PS752 in 2020 as a memeber of the “National Security Council of Iran”

3. The arrest and imprisonment of political and social activists during his time as Head of the Judiciary, which saw an unprecedented increase.

4. The mass suppression of the Baha’i community in Iran.

5. An increase in executions during his presidency, with over 800 executions signed in 2023 alone.

6. The repression of peaceful protestors during the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement.

Raisi has not denied his actions. “If a judge or prosecutor has defended the security of the people, he should be praised,” he told reporters about the massacre at his first press conference as president-elect on June 21, 2021. The United Nations called for an investigation into Raisi’s role shortly after his election. “I think it is time and it’s very important now that Mr. Raisi is the president -elect we start investigating what happened in 1988 and the role of individuals,” Javaid Rehman, the U.N. investigator on human rights in Iran, said on June 29. In March 2019, the United States condemned Raisi’s appointment as judiciary chief and highlighted his role in the Tehran Death Committee.  The U. S. Treasury Department also noted Raisi’s involvement in the Death Committee and the crackdown on protesters after the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Additionally, the UN Fact-Finding Committee has classified the activities of Islamic Regime of Iran during the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement as “crimes against humanity.” These actions reflect a history of extreme violence and repression by him that should not be commemorated.

Raisi’s rise to power is widely regarded as the result of a manipulated and illegitimate election, designed to ensure his loyalty to the Supreme Leader. It is important to note that Raisi did not hold the highest political rank in Islamic Regime of Iran; that position belongs to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which further questions the merit of his commemoration.

Memorializing such an individual contradicts the very principles of justice and human rights that the United Nations stands for. Honoring his legacy would be a disservice to the countless victims of his regime and an insult to freedom fighters and those family members of the victims seeking justice both in Iran and around the world.

We strongly encourage all members of the United Nations to read the special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the link below:

Letter by U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance to the Iranian government (September 2020)

We urge the United Nations to reconsider any plans to memorialize Ibrahim Raisi and not to ignore the findings of respected human rights organizations and its own Fact-Finding Committee. Doing so would lend unwarranted legitimacy to his actions and undermine the struggles of those who have suffered under his oppressive rule.

The United Nations, as a guardian of global human rights, should not endorse or celebrate a figure such as Ibrahim Raisi whose legacy is rooted in brutality and injustice. We urge you to stand in solidarity with the victims of Raisi and to uphold the principles of justice and human dignity by refraining from honoring him. Your decision in this matter will significantly impact the credibility of the UN’s commitment to human rights.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.


Initial Signatures:

Afary, Janet; Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

Afary, Frieda; Iranian American Librarian and Author

Afary, Mona; Psychologist, Oakland, CA

Afshari, Ali; Political Activist, USA

Afshari, Reza; Professor Emeritus of History, Pace University, New York.

Ahari, Maryam; MD and Human/Women’s Rights Activist.

Alamdari, Kazem; Retired Faculty of Sociology, California State University, Northridge.

Alijani, Reza; Political Activist, France.

Amani, Elahe; Human/Women’s rights Activist, USA

Amini, Mehdi; Human and Civil Rights Activist.

Ardalan, Parvin; Feminist Activist and Writer.

Aslani, Mehdi; Writer and former Political Prisoner of the 1980s.

Atabaki, Touraj; Research Professor of Social History, The Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Azizi, Alireza; Human Rights Activist, CA, USA.

Balouch, Fariba; Human/Women’s Rights Activist.

Banuazizi, Ali; Research Professor, Boston College, USA.

Bazrpour, Farzaneh; Journalist, USA

Darvishpour, Mehrdad; Associate Professor of Sociology, Mälardalens University, Sweden.

Dehghan, Saeid; Human Rights Lawyer and Director of Parsi Law Consultancy, Canada

Ebadi, Shirin; Attorney in law and Nobel Peace Laureate, 2003.

Fallah, Soraya; Vice President of United Nations Association of USA, SFV Chapter.

Farhang, Mansour; Faculty Emeritus, Bennington College, USA.

Farmand, Hamed; Human/Children Rights Researcher & Activist.

Ghahraman, Saghi; Poet and Head of the Iranian Queer Organization.

Gohari Lackner, Jaleh; MD and Human/Women’s Rights Activist, Austria.

Hariri, Mehrdad;  President, Canadian Science Policy Centre

Herischi, Ali; Human Rights Lawyer, Canada.

Hoodfar, Homa; Professor of Anthropology, Emerita, Concordia University, Montreal.

Joudaki, Arash; Researcher and Doctorate in Philosophy.

Kalantari, Hassan; Civil Rights Activist, CA, USA.

Kahnemuyipour, Arsalan; Professor and Chair, Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga.

Kar Mehrangiz; Attorney, Writer and Human Rights Activist.

Khatam, Azam; Instructor at York University, Toronto.

Khosrokhavar, Farhad; Retired Professor at School for Advanced Studies, Paris.

Kian, Azadeh; Professor, University of Paris 7, France.

Malek, Parvin; Human/Women’s Rights Activist.

Meymandi Nejad, Sharmin; Founder of the Society of Students against Poverty.

Moaddel, Mansoor; Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland, USA.

Moghadam, Rezvan,; Member of the Plaintiff Families of the 1988 mass Executions.

Moghissi, Haideh; York University, Canada.

Mojab, Shahrzad; Professor of Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto, Canada.

Moridi, Reza; PhD, Former Parliamentarian and Minister, Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto, Canada.

Nayeb-Hashemi; Hassan, Dr/MD and Human Rights Defender, Austria.

Nooriala, Partow; Poet and Writer, CA, USA

Nooriala, Esmail;  Dr. Spokesperson of Iranian Secular Democracy Movement

Parsa, Koroush; Ph.D., Managing Director, Parsa Wireless Communication, LLC, USA.

Rahimi, Zahra; Director of the Society Against Poverty.

Rahmani, Taghi, Political Activist, Paris

Rahnema, Saeed; York University, Canada.

Roosta, Taraneh; Human/Women’s rights activist

Sarshar, Homa; Journalist and Human Rights Activist, USA.

Shams, Fatemeh; Associate Professor of Persian Literature, University of Pennsylvania.

Shirinsokhan, Maryam; Women’s rights Activists, BoD WLF Munich

Shojaee, Mansoureh; Women’s rights Researcher, Writer & Activist

Tohidi, Nayereh; Professor Emeritus, California State University, Northridge, USA

Zamini, Sholeh; Women’s Rights Defender, Canada.

Zandian, Mandana; Writer, poet and Physician, CA, USA


International Secular Democratic Organization (ISDO)

Stop “Honor” Killings Campaign: Stop Honor Killing (

Woman* Life Freedom Munich Associations