Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other top leaders at Raisi funeral on May 22, 2024

US to Boycott UN Tribute to Iran's Raisi Killed in Helicopter Crash

Thursday, 05/30/2024

The United States will boycott a United Nations tribute on Thursday to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed earlier this month in a helicopter crash, a US official told Reuters.

The 193-member UN General Assembly traditionally meets to pay tribute to any world leader who was a sitting head of state at the time of their death. The tribute will feature speeches about Raisi.

"We won't attend this event in any capacity," a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. The US boycott has not previously been reported.

Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York declined to comment to Reuters.

Raisi, a hardliner who had been seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed when his helicopter came down in mountains near the Azerbaijan border on May 19.

"The United Nations should be standing with the people of Iran, not memorializing their decades-long oppressor," said the US official in a sharp reversal of earlier policy. "Raisi was involved in numerous, horrific human rights abuses, including the extrajudicial killings of thousands of political prisoners in 1988."

"Some of the worst human rights abuses on record, especially against the women and girls of Iran, took place during his tenure," the official said.

The UN Security Council stood at the beginning of an unrelated meeting for a moment of silence on May 20 to remember the victims of the helicopter crash. Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood reluctantly stood with his 14 counterparts.

This led to sharp criticism of the Biden administration by several Republican lawmakers and many Iranian-Americans, who argued that Raisi was deeply involved in killings and repression of opponents throughout his career as a regime official. In 1988 alone, Raisi was part of a “Death Committee” that ordered the summary executions of 3000-5000 political prisoners serving their jail terms. Families of some of these victims and other government atrocities with Raisi’s involvement are US citizens.

The United States expressed its "official condolences" for Raisi's death, the State Department said on May 20. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby also said that day: "No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands."

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021 and in office ordered a tightening of morality laws, oversaw a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

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