Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran on June 21. Photo by Maryam Rahmanian /UPI | License Photo
July 14 (UPI) -- Ebrahim Raisi, president-elect of Iran following his sham election, is due to take up his office in August. According to the Tehran Times, he may make Scotland his first international destination as president.
Raisi has apparently been invited to attend the COP26 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. The talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree on coordinated action to tackle climate change. Some 200 world leaders and more than 30,000 delegates are expected to attend.
Raisi is on the U.S. sanctions list for serial human rights violations. He has openly boasted of his role as a member of the "death commission" that oversaw the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Most of those executed, including many teenagers and even pregnant women, were supporters of the main opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq.
Raisi was, until his elevation to the presidency, chief of Iran's judiciary, which directed the hanging of 251 people in 2019, 267 people in 2020, and scores of executions so far in 2021.
Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, has called for Raisi to be investigated for crimes against humanity and for his involvement in killings, enforced disappearance and torture. Raisi will not be welcome in Scotland.
The U.K. government, which is hosting the summit, and the Scottish government, must ban Raisi's entry to the United Kingdom. He is the pariah president of a pariah state and should be treated as such. When Adolph Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, flew to Scotland in 1941, he was immediately arrested and spent the rest of his life in prison.
Raisi should take note. He will be held accountable for his crimes.
Following Raisi's rigged election, the theocratic regime claimed that overall turnout of the electorate had been 48.9%. Anticipating fake news from the mullahs, resistance units of the MEK had carefully monitored polling stations throughout the country and estimated that the true turnout was less than 10% due to a nationwide boycott.
Dozens of MEK operatives were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps -- the regime's Gestapo -- for filming and monitoring the polls. The mullahs mounted a huge security operation to try to cover up the fact that the Iranian population was determined to withhold their votes in open protest at the repression, corruption and misrule of the clerical regime. They were incensed that Iran's supreme leader, the elderly Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had engineered the election by disqualifying all candidates who may have posed an electoral threat to his favored nominee, Raisi.
In the days following the vote, there have been nationwide strikes and protests involving petrochemical workers, farmers, pensioners, pharmacists, investors who have been cheated out of their savings and people from all walks of life. They have demanded better wages and working conditions, fair pensions, an end to corruption and a superior response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 322,000 people in Iran.
The regime has reacted in its customary way by ordering a crackdown and threatening that any workers who join the protests will be fired. Indeed, some have lost their jobs as a warning to their fellow workers.
But the strikes have caused a deepening crisis in the bankrupt state. With spiraling inflation, a collapsing currency and 75% of Iranians forced to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line, the mullahs' only remaining lifeline has been the sporadic, sanction-busting, sale of oil and gas. The petrochemical workers' strike has severed this lifeline, and the mullahs fear the ongoing protests could bring about the collapse of their medieval regime.
Khamenei needs oil revenues to continue funding Bashar al-Assad's bloody civil war in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the brutal Shi'ia militias in Iraq, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and the militant Hamas in Gaza. He also desperately needs cash to complete his race to build a nuclear bomb and ballistic missile delivery systems capable of hitting Israel. Khamenei sees the development of a nuclear weapon and the continued funding of his proxy wars across the Middle East as his ace cards. The sham election of Raisi is a key part of Khamenei's survival strategy.
It surely cannot be a case of business as usual with Iran after the sham election? The European Union surely cannot continue to participate in the ongoing talks in Vienna supposedly aimed at re-establishing the deeply flawed and wholly redundant nuclear deal? The time has come for the United Nations, the United States and the EU to end appeasement of this vicious regime and to discard all attempts to resurrect the nuclear deal and instead to seek the urgent indictment of Raisi in the international courts for crimes against humanity.
Iran's new president must never be allowed to set foot in the West, unless he is brought in chains to face charges. Any attempt to bring him to Scotland must be blocked by the U.K. and Scottish governments.
Struan Stevenson is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change. He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.