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Iran’s acting president delivers address about Raisi to parliament

Iran's interim President Mohammad Mokhber addresses lawmakers during the inauguration session for the new Parliament in Tehran on May 27, 2024.
Iran's interim President Mohammad Mokhber addresses lawmakers during the inauguration session for the new Parliament in Tehran on May 27, 2024.

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber delivered an address Monday to the country’s newly installed parliament.

The address to lawmakers was Mokhber’s first public speech since the helicopter crash last week that killed his predecessor, Ebrahim Raisi, and seven other people.

Referring to Raisi’s death, Mokhber said, "Despite this bitter and sad incident, none of the country's projects have been closed even for a day. This way and path for serving the people and solving the country's problems will continue.”

While Mokhber painted a glowing account of Raisi’s legacy, human rights groups have not been so complimentary.

“Ebrahim Raisi should have been criminally investigated, including for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, while he was alive," said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “His death must not rob his victims and their families of their right to truth and to see all others complicit in his crimes held to account.”

Raisi sat on a panel that handed out death sentences to thousands of political prisoners in the late 1980s.

In a statement, Tara Sepehri Far, who researches human rights abuses in Iran and Kuwait for Human Rights Watch, said, “These panels made a mockery of fair trial standards, and the resulting mass executions should be investigated as crimes against humanity.”

Some human rights advocates refer to Raisi as the “butcher of Tehran.”

It was under Raisi’s watch that 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in 2022 after being arrested for violating Iran's mandatory headscarf laws, sparking international protests and outcries from human rights organizations.

Mokhber also noted Monday that in recent months when Raisi was in office, Iran had taken military actions against three countries — Iraq, Israel and Pakistan— yet maintained its economic stability.

“Three countries were hit. We hit Israel. People find that figures and indexes are the same in the morning when they wake up, price of hard currency is the same, inflation is the same, liquidity is the same, and the market is full of people’s needs,” Mokhber said. “This strength, this settlement and this power is not a usual thing. They all were because of guidance by the supreme leader and the sincere efforts of Ayatollah Raisi.”

Raisi, however, died amid a period of political tension, with Iran exchanging drone missile fire with Israel and facing international pressure for its controversial nuclear program. Iran has also been accused of supplying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine, a charge Raisi had denied.

Raisi’s popularity and acceptance among Iranians, according to Mokhber, “proved that there is no righteous act higher than serving the people and obeying the great leader of the Islamic Revolution."

However, Iran International — a Persian-language TV news channel based in London — reported that it has received social media posts of fireworks celebrations following the news of the president’s helicopter crash.

“Live your life in such a way that people don’t set off fireworks and give out sweets in anticipation of the news of your death,” was posted on one of the sites.

Mokhber also said Monday that Iran now produces more than 3 million barrels of oil a day, despite Western sanctions. Those sanctions, however, have limited the market’s buyers to China, Iran’s main oil customer.

Iran will hold an election next month to replace Raisi. Political analysts say Mokhber will likely emerge as one of the candidates.

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