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Iran opposition group calls for arrest of President Raisi ahead of COP26 in Glasgow

LONDON: The National Council of Resistance of Iran on Wednesday called for the arrest and prosecution of the country’s President Ebrahim Raisi on charges of crimes against humanity.

At a press conference in Glasgow attended by Arab News, the NCRI said he should be “immediately arrested” if he attends the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in the Scottish city later this month.

Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament from Scotland, told the press conference that the efforts of the NCRI and its supporters are not “with the sole objective of stopping Raisi from coming to COP26,” and that “we will hunt this man down in any country in the world that he dares to step foot in.” Stevenson added: “There can be no impunity for crimes against humanity of this magnitude.”

Hossein Abedini, who sits on the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, said Raisi is responsible for the execution of thousands in 1988, referencing Amnesty International’s description of these murders as “ongoing crimes against humanity.”

Stevenson detailed Raisi’s involvement in the infamous 1988 massacres in Tehran, when critics of the regime were executed following brief, sham trials. 

Raisi is accused by the NCRI of various crimes against humanity, including ordering the execution of teenage girls — some as young as 15 — and the murder of pregnant women.

“The people of Iran know him (Raisi) as a butcher. That’s why we can’t allow such a person to have any form of impunity,” said Stevenson.

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“The purpose of the investigation that we’ve asked for with the Metropolitan Police in London and Police Scotland is that they’ll build a case that they account for and will then be handed to the public prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,” he added. 

“Similar activities are taking place in the Netherlands and Canada and other countries around the world.”

The NCRI and its supporters are hoping to bring a case against Raisi through a legal power called universal jurisdiction, which allows a person to be prosecuted and tried in another country than the one where the crimes were committed.

Britain has adopted universal jurisdiction for a number of serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity and torture, which Raisi stands accused of by multiple NCRI supporters and families in Iran.

The press conference heard from a number of his victims, including political prisoners and family members of the deceased. 

One of the victims detailed how five of her family members had been executed by the regime. Her brother Hossein was arrested in 1981 and she has not seen him since. 

Her two uncles were executed in 1981, and her two aunties were murdered in the 1988 massacres.

She was emotional as she detailed how her aunties were “directly hanged by the order of Raisi.”

Reza Fallahi, a political prisoner from 1981 to 1991 who witnessed the 1988 massacres, told the press conference that “at least one year prior to the massacre, they categorized and labeled the different prisoners with colors, so it started one year prior to the murders … It was a systematic matter, not an immediate war crime.”

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The NRCI in the UK and Stevenson are awaiting responses from the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland, respectively.


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