By handpicking a mass murderer to be president, the Iranian regime is sending a strong message to the Iranian people and the world that it will not respect human rights. Pictured: Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, on June 21, 2021. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
The leaders of the European Union, who preach about human rights and democracy, are not only turning a blind eye to the Iranian regime's handpicking of a mass murderer, Ebrahim Raisi, to be the next president; they are also now joining North Korea in congratulating the ruling mullahs and their new President Raisi.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, issuing a message congratulating Iran's new incoming president, stated that he is "confident" friendly relationships between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Austria would continue. "In his message," wrote the Islamic Republic News Agency, ".... he wished success for president-elect Raisi and said that his country, as the host of multinational negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal, is ready to make any cooperation. He expressed hope that the Vienna talks will yield fruit in the near future."
How could a leader of a democratic country congratulate a mass murderer? What kind of message is he sending to the Iranian people who boycotted the elections and called on the international community to investigate the new mullah president?
By handpicking a mass murderer to be president, the Iranian regime is sending a strong message to the Iranian people and the world that it will not respect human rights. Yet, to enhance the regime's legitimacy, Iran's Ambassador to Austria, Abbas Bagherpour, bragged:
"President @vanderbellen in an official message cordially congratulated President-elect Dr. Ebrahim Raisi @raisi_com, wishing him every success, referring to 7 centuries of friendly relations, re-assuring him of continuation of multi-faceted bilateral relations in every fields."
"Swiss President in the message wished success for Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi in his new position, expressed confidence that good bilateral relations between Iran and Switzerland during the presidency of Raisi will be strengthened more than ever.
"He also stressed that Switzerland is committed to strengthening dialogue and cooperation with Iran aiming at increasing stability and prosperity in the region, and considers it in the interest of all."
Those are more blows to the people of Iran. The people of Iran, like those of Hong Kong and now Cuba, have been struggling and fighting to change their regime, while European governments and leaders of democratic countries -- including the current administration in the United States (for instance here, here and here) -- have basically been sending a message to the people: We do not care about your aspiration for justice, rule of law and human rights; instead we are going to partner with your authoritarian leaders.
The Iranian human rights lawyer Kaveh Moussavi tweeted:
"Shame on you, President of Austria, congratulating a mass murderer who through massive fraud has muscled his way to the Presidency of Iran. We are going to remember this abject cowardice when we rid Iran of this murderous kleptocracy! Don't say we didn't warn you!"
Europe's leaders have also been completely disregarding calls by human rights organizations to investigate Iran's mass murderer mullah -- he will also most likely be the next Supreme Leader of Iran. Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnès Callamard said:
"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."
It was also under Raisi's watch as the head of Iran's Judiciary that nearly 1,500 people were killed during the widespread protests of 2019, many were tortured, and high profile people such as the champion wrestler Navid Afkari were executed.
"As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiralling 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."
It is indeed shameful, and a blow to the people of Iran and advocates of human rights and democracy, that European governments and leaders of democracies are joining North Korea to congratulate Iran's mass murderer president -- and wishing him success!
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu