Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi did not deny his role in the killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes program.
Asked by Leslie Stahl if he regrets his role in a death commission that executed up to 5,000 political prisoners, Raisi simply answered that they were “terrorists.”
“They were assassinating people and what happened to them was exactly proportionate to what they did,” the Iranian president said.
Most of the prisoners were young members of the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) group that participated in the 1979 revolution and supported the establishment of the Islamic Republic but soon began opposing the clerics who took full control of the new government.
The organization did engage in acts of terror against officials, but the prisoners who were summarily executed had already received prison sentences and were serving their jail terms.
The United States has sanctioned Raisi and other members of the governing elite for human rights violations, but the Biden Administration decided to issue a visa to the Raisi to go the New York for the United Nations General Assembly starting this week.
American Iranians are preparing for a protest outside the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday when Raisi is scheduled to speak. This is his first visit to a Western country as president and first UN appearance. He said in the interview that he will not meet or speak with President Joe Biden. “I don’t think to meet with him or have a discussion would be beneficial.”