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New Iranian President a Threat to both Human Rights and US-Iran Relations

06/21/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Former Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi has emerged victorious in Iran’s 2021 presidential elections, which were marked with rampant corruption and historically low voter turnout. Raisi, a hardline conservative, dominated his lone moderate opposition thanks to severe election manipulation by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. In the months leading up to election day, a panel of officials under the Supreme leader’s jurisdiction disqualified every candidate with the potential of competing with Raisi, eliminating all barriers on his road to eventual victory.

Beyond the implications of Raisi’s election on democracy in Iran, or lack thereof, his administration poses a significant threat to human rights in the country and Iran’s relationship with the United States. In his first few days as president, Raisi has only solidified concerns of his uncooperative, potentially dangerous tendencies. While demanding that the United States lift economic sanctions imposed by former President Trump and reinstate the controversial Iranian nuclear deal, Raisi said that even if he were granted the opportunity to meet with President Biden, he would refuse.

Raisi is the first-ever Iranian president to be elected while under sanctions by the United States, which were imposed in response to his horrific human rights record. In 1988, as part of a judicial death commission, Raisi helped sentence over 30,000 Iranians to death for political subversion in trials that lasted mere minutes. As Judiciary Chief, Raisi expanded his notoriety as one of the world’s most active executioners, overseeing death sentences for over 620 Iranians, most of whom were dissidents or members of minority groups. Raisi has also leaned heavily on torture and lashings as a method of combating subversion, especially against converts to Christianity. Sadly, Raisi’s human rights violations reflect the widespread persecution and suppression that Iranians suffer at the hands of their government. In 2021, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that Iran be designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its persecution of minority religious groups within its borders.

Raisi’s refusal to negotiate with the United States comes as a critical time for US-Iran relations. The Biden administration is seriously considering rejoining the Iranian Nuclear Deal and lifting the economic sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration. President Biden hopes that rewarding Iran for good behavior will discourage the Iranian government from developing nuclear weapons, which would have extremely grave implications on the stability and safety of the entire Middle East. However, many human rights experts are concerned that an incentive-based foreign policy towards Iran will prevent the United States from addressing the severe persecution being propagated by the Iranian government. Raisi’s election only amplifies these fears.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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