Iranian women speak out against the sham election and the henchman of the 1988 massacre
June coincided with the clerical regime’s sham election in Iran. The engineered election met an all-out nationwide boycott by the Iranian people. Only 10 percent turned out for the election charade on June 18, 2021. Numerous void ballots were one of the unique characters of this election in the 42-year history of the mullahs’ regime.
The mullahs’ misogynist regime showed its true color when Ebrahim Raisi, the supreme leader’s favorite candidate, was picked for the presidency. Raisi is a mass murderer with a bloody record of human rights violations, particularly against Iranian women. At least 30 women have been executed in Iran since February 26, 2019, when Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as Chief Justice.
By their nationwide boycott of the sham election, the people of Iran clearly demonstrated that the regime and its election sham do not enjoy any legitimacy with them.
Iranian women who make up half of the population spoke out in the campaign to boycott the sham election. Mothers and relatives of the victims of the November 2019 uprising and the 1988 massacre and the families of political prisoners played an active role in the election boycott campaign. They also joined their voices with the massive nationwide protests and strikes after the sham election, declaring their resolve in seeking justice and for Iran’s freedom.
On the other hand, female political prisoners also wrote letters from behind bars and called for the boycott of the sham election. Despite being incarcerated in the clutches of the clerical regime and directly exposed to the various pressure and deprivations, these brave women declared that they stand beside the people of Iran, and they vote for the regime’s overthrow. They said they believe the only way to freedom is resistance, protests, rebellion, and democratic change in Iran.
Mothers of the November 2019 victims had an impact
Before and after the election charade, when Ebrahim Raisi was announced as the regime’s President-to-be, the mothers of the victims of the November 2019 uprising had remarkable activities. By doing so, they showed the world that the clerical regime had brought nothing to the people of Iran except mass slaughter and suppression. e
In unison, they declared, “We want the overthrow of this regime. Our vote is the regime’s overthrow.”
Seeking justice for their children, they vowed, “We will not forgive, nor will we forget.”
The mothers of November 2019 martyrs Ali Sartipi, Amir-Hossein Zare’e, Reza Mo’azzami Goudarzi, Ebrahim Ketabdar, and Pejman Qolipour, were among those who lent support to the workers’ protests in line with seeking justice for their children.
In her message of support to the nationwide strike of workers of oil and petrochemical industries, the mother of Reza Mo’azzami said: “Today, the workers are continuing the voice of November (2019). This is the voice of all of us. The same voice when we cried out together in the streets and demanded our rights in November 2019. Although they responded to our cries with bullets, but our call for justice is never going to be silenced.”
Ramping up pressure on political prisoners’ families
In reaction to the Iranian Resistance’s calls for the boycott of the sham election, the clerical regime stepped up its pressure and clampdown on families of political prisoners. The regime made a wave of arrests among families and supporters of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization and its former political prisoners in various cities. Mowloud Safaei, the sister of political prisoner Zahra Safaei, was among those arrested.
The intelligence services also beat up the Afkari family on June 12, 2021, outside the Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, capital of Fars Province, in southern Iran.
The family had referred to Adelabad Prison to inquire about their two sons, Vahid and Habib Afkari, who have been detained in solitary confinement for at least ten months.
Plainclothes agents brutalized the Afkaris’ mother, sister, and other relatives. Elham Afkari and another lady from their relatives were arrested. The assailants hurt Elham’s arm during the attack and badly brutalized her mother and aunt
. Three Afkari brothers –Vahid, Habib, and Navid—were arrested for participating in the protests in summer 2018. The younger brother, Navid Afkari, a wrestling champion, was hastily hanged on September 12, 2020, before completion of his due process and despite international calls to save his life.
Previously, Elham Afkari had posted Navid’s photo in her Instagram account, announcing that she would never betray the pure blood of her innocent brother, Navid, and would not vote in the regime’s election.
Female political prisoners’ calls for the election boycott
Despite all the risks they face in prison, female political prisoners wrote illuminating letters from prison questioning the mullahs’ regime in its entirety and called for the sham election boycott. These resistant and brave women declared that they would get closer to their goals by standing by the people. They said the only way is to resist and stand up to the regime in its entirety.
Four political prisoners wrote an open letter from behind bars in the notorious Qarchak Prison, condemning and boycotting the regime’s sham election. Political prisoners Zahra Safaei, Marzieh Farsi, Parastoo Mo’ini, and Forough Taghipour noting the terrible conditions in Qarchak Prison during Raisi’s tenure, refuted his claims about improving the country’s situation. In their letter, they wrote: “How could one expect those who did not do anything to improve prison conditions for a long time to improve the circumstances in a country. Massacre and various forms of physical elimination started in the 1980s. This slaughter will not end until this fascist regime is overthrown!”
These four political prisoners are incarcerated on charges of contact and cooperation with the regime’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
Political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared who has recently been under ramped-up pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence, wrote from the Central Prison of Semnan: “Every vote is the same as complicity in the murder of this country’s young people. Now, the people’s ranks are separated by the stream of our martyrs’ blood from those against them. This time, our people are more determined than ever, and their voices are louder than every year. From behind the prison’s barbed wires and tall walls, I cry out in unison with the people of Iran. Victory belongs to us. Tomorrow belongs to us.”
Maryam Akbari Monfared has been in jail for 12 years without a single day so furlough. She has three daughters. Her siblings were executed during the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Raisi was one of the key members of the Death Commissions, which ordered the executions. Another two brothers of Maryam Akbari were executed in the 1980s.
Political prisoner Atena Daemi also sent an open letter from the Lakan Prison of Rasht. While protesting the relocation and exile of women political prisoners, she said she would not vote in the regime’s election farce. In part of her letter, Ms. Daemi wrote: “Most people are aware that each ballot, blank or filled, means yes to the repeat of history and the inhuman policies of this regime’s 42-year rule. The 4-year presidential terms and their elections are absurd to show people’s turnout and role in politics. They sent my friends and me to exile to different parts of Iran to not say what we must. But side by the side of my people, I say NO to this sham election!”
Exiled political prisoner Atena Daemi is 32. She finished serving her 5-year prison term on July 4, 2020. But she remained in jail due to new cases filed against her by the IRGC and Intelligence Ministry (MOIS). Two courts sentenced her to a total of five years in prison and 74 lashes.
Amnesty International – Call for an international investigation into Raisi’s crimes
In a statement on June 19, Amnesty International published a statement by its Secretary General Angès Callamard. She said in this statement: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran. In 2018, our organization documented how Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the Death Commission, which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988. The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.
Ms. Callamard added: “As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiraling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders, and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained. Under his watch, the judiciary has also granted blanket impunity to government officials and security forces responsible for unlawfully killing hundreds of men, women, and children and subjecting thousands of protesters to mass arrests and at least hundreds to enforced disappearance, and torture, and other ill-treatment during and in the aftermath of the nationwide protests of November 2019.
“Ebrahim Raisi’s rise to the presidency follows an electoral process that was conducted in a highly repressive environment and barred women, members of religious minorities and candidates with opposing views from running for office.”
Javaid Rehman – Time to end systemic impunity
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran also called for an independent investigation into Ebrahim Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.
On June 29, 2021, Reuters wrote: “The UN investigator on human rights in Iran has called for an independent inquiry into allegations of state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 and the role played by President-elect Ebrahim Raisi as Tehran deputy prosecutor.”
In his interview with Reuters, Prof. Javaid Rehman said: “The scale of executions that we hear imply that it was a part of a policy that was being pursued…”
The UNSR added that there had also been “no proper investigation” into the protesters’ killing in November 2019, the bloodiest political unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“Even by conservative estimates we can say that more than 300 people were killed arbitrarily, extra judicially, and nobody has been held accountable and no compensation,” he said.
“There is a widespread and systemic impunity in the country for gross violations of human rights, both historically in the past as well as in the present.”
Michelle Bachelet – Report to the UN Human Rights Council
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, presented the Secretary-General’s report on human rights in Iran to the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th session on June 22, 2021. The report covered the period from June 1, 2020, to March 17, 2021, which is part of Ebrahim Raisi’s tenure as the Judiciary Chief in Iran.
The report noted the executions of at least nine women in 2020. The UN Rights Chief also pointed out that lawyers and numerous civil society activists had been imprisoned for advocating women’s rights and an end to compulsory veiling laws. Overall, the report found a disturbing human rights landscape for Iranian women and men of every religious faith, ethnic origin, social class, and other status. The High Commissioner expressed regret that the framework for the right to political participation was not in line with international standards.
Antonio Guterres – Urging abolition of the death penalty, signing the CEDAW
The report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was published on June 9, 2021, in which he underlined the dire situation of human rights in Iran.
Mr. Guterres said in the report: “The failure to establish a mechanism in accordance with international law for accountability and remedy for violations committed in the context of protests in November 2019 is emblematic. Protesters, human rights defenders, lawyers, and civil society actors continue to be subject to intimidation, arbitrary detention, and criminal prosecution, including the death penalty.”
Naming some female political prisoners, the UN Secretary-General pointed out: “The targeting of relatives and new charges brought against human rights defenders and lawyers to prolong their arbitrary detention are disturbing developments… For example, women’s rights defenders Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee have received new prison sentences, keeping Ms. Daemi in prison, and returning Ms. Iraee after being released. Another worrying trend is the punitive transfer of prisoners of conscience, including at least 15 detained women’s rights defenders, to remote prisons.”
The report also highlighted the conditions of prisoners who have not enjoyed any furlough throughout their sentence: “Prisoners of conscience, political activists, human rights defenders, and lawyers are disproportionately excluded from temporary release. As a result, some political prisoners have been in prison for years without a single day of furlough. For example, Maryam Akbari Monfared, sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for participating in protests in 2009, has been imprisoned for the past 12 years. Harassment against her increased after she filed a formal complaint, seeking an official investigation into the 1988 executions of political prisoners, including her siblings. Similarly, Zeinab Jalalian, a Kurdish political prisoner serving a life sentence for moharebeh, has been held in prison since 2008 without furlough.”
In conclusion, the UN Secretary-General urged the Iranian regime, among others, to abolish the death penalty and sign the international conventions, including the International Convention Against Torture and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW).