Iran’s New Judiciary Chief Poses Threats to Christians And Human Rights
07/26/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ejei, recently elected as Iran’s Judiciary Chief, has been a part of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary regime since its infancy. His election to the now-President’s former office poses serious concerns for the future of religious freedom and human rights.
Following the 1979 revolution, Ejei began his service in the new judiciary almost immediately, holding a variety of positions including Head of the Ministry of Intelligence’s Select Committee (1984-1985) and the Representative of the Head of the Judiciary to the Ministry of Intelligence (1986-1988). Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Ejei played a significant part in the sentencing of thousands of “political prisoners” to the death penalty in such events as the 1988 Massacre, in which it is estimated up to 30,000 were murdered. Iran’s new President and former Judiciary Chief, Ebrahim Raisi, also participated in what was known as the “Death Commission”.
Beginning in 1995, Ejei’s judiciary focus shifted as he was appointed Deputy Prosecutor of the Special Court of Clergy and later the same court’s main prosecutor in 1999, suppressing any form of dissident religious leadership that dared criticize the regime. The 2000s saw Ejei continue to climb the judiciary’s hierarchy before being appointed the Minister of Intelligence in 2005, during which he took a leading role in the suppression, detention, and torture of protesters to obtain forced confessions in the fallout of the 2009 election. In 2010 targeted sanctions were imposed on Ejei and several other officials involved in these miscarriages of justice by the U.S. Treasury Department.
After his abrupt dismissal in 2009, Ejei was appointed the National Attorney General as well as the Judiciary’s National Spokesperson until 2019. As the de-facto cover man for the regime’s kangaroo courts, Ejei routinely pushed misinformation, while denying and withholding information on human rights abuses perpetrated by Iran’s prison system and judiciary while threatening prisoners’ family members who leaked information to the press.
During this time Ejei was also appointed First Deputy of the Judiciary in 2014, which he has held until his most recent appointment as Chief Justice of Iran in July 2021.
Ejei has been involved in the unfair trial and sentencing of thousands of religious and political prisoners of conscience throughout his four decades of service to the Iranian regime. Among him and the Iranian judiciary’s more recent victims are Gonabadi Sufi Behnam Mahjoubi, arrested for protesting and Evangelical Christians, and Saheb Fadaei and Fatimeh Bakhteri, arrested for participating in house churches. The latter two were charged under the political allegation of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented 110 individual cases of Christians facing similar charges and sentencing over the past 11 years under Ejei’s tenure as a primary leader in Iran’s judiciary.
The line between religious and political prisoners is often blurred due to the broad allegations leveled against the victim. Many victims of Iran’s judiciary have been arrested on such charges because they are participating in religious activities or groups that the regime does not recognize and associates with foreign nations it considers hostile such as the U.S. or Israel. Protestant and evangelical forms of Christianity for instance are not recognized, labeled as “Zionist Christianity” and brutally suppressed. As Chief Justice of Iran and official head of the judiciary, these practices are sure to continue.
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