Son of Grand Ayatollah Blasts Presidential Bid of Human Rights Violator Ebrahim Raisi
The son of late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who publicly condemned the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, has criticized the newly announced presidential candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi as an “insult to the people of Iran.”
In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Ahmad Montazeri noted that Raisi, who was part of the four-man special committee that ordered the mass executions, “does not have a day of experience in government.”
“It sounds more like a joke. We have many experienced politicians from various factions and some of them have more than a decade of experience in government,” added Ahmad Montazeri, who in 2016 released an audio recording of his father’s condemnation of the committee, which came to be known as the “Death Committee.”
Raisi, the current head of the Astan Qods Razavi—one of the wealthiest religious institutions and business conglomerates in Iran—announced his candidacy for president on April 6.
He will run against current President Hassan Rouhani on May 19.
“(Raisi’s) direct and undeniable participation in the massacres in the summer of 1988 is very important,” said Ahmad Montazeri. “If any of the candidates had attacked a person with a knife, he would have had a criminal record and would not get clearance from the authorities, never mind Mr. Raisi, whose record is very clear.”
Ahmad Montazeri told CHRI he is waiting to release more recordings.
“When the conditions are right and the people in charge of the country are more tolerant, the rest of the audio files will be published,” he said. “Already a lot of transparency has been achieved (with the release of the first file).”
“When I was being interrogated, the Intelligence Ministry agents demanded all the files be handed over,” he added. “I told them, and replied in writing, that the files are not about me or my personal property.”
“They belong to the entire Montazeri family and indeed to the history of our country,” he said. “I cannot hand them over.”
In 2016, Ahmad Montazeri was sentenced to six years in prison for releasing a 1988 audio recording of his father bitterly criticizing members of the special committee that interviewed political prisoners that year and decided whether they would live or die.
Raisi was not only a member of the “Death Committee,” but also the chief prosecutor for the Special Court for the Clergy that convicted Ahmad Montazeri.
Raisi did not personally prosecute Montazeri.
In the audio file posted on Montazeri’s official website on August 9, 2016, the grand ayatollah, who died in 2009, condemned the 1988 executions of thousands of political prisoners.
“In my view, what has been committed by your hands is the greatest crime in the Islamic Republic, and history will condemn us for it,” said Montazeri. “In the future, history will remember you as criminals.”
Ahmad Montazeri was detained on February 21, 2017 to begin serving his six-year prison sentence, but was granted furlough (temporary leave) and released the next day.
“The religious leaders, grand ayatollahs Vahid Khorasani, Safi Golpayegani and Shabiri Zanjani objected to my sentence and they expressed their displeasure to the authorities in writing,” he told CHRI.
“Their complaints made an impact and the Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei) ordered (the judiciary) to act according to Ayatollah Zanjani’s opinion and suspend the sentence,” he said.
“I think the respect these dignitaries had towards the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was an important factor,” he told CHRI.
“They wanted to show kindness and appreciation to the Montazeri family for facing injustice in the line of duty,” he added.
Ahmad Montazeri continued: “I mentioned all this at the Special Court for the Clergy, but the judge said that he had not received any order from the supreme leader (to suspend prosecution) … I think they wanted to take revenge for what I had done and Mr. Raisi was responsible for the court’s actions.”