Latest News 21-05-2024 21:01 19 Views

Some Iranians celebrate ‘Butcher of Tehran’ Raisi’s death in the streets despite oppressive regime

Video shows several Iranians celebrating President Ebrahim Raisi's death in the streets even as thousands participate in mass demonstrations mourning the controversial leader.

Fireworks are launched in the night, a woman passes out sweets and several people can be heard cheering in the video posted online by opponents of the regime after Raisi died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other officials. 

Ali Safavi, a member of The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee – Iran's parliament in exile – said the demonstrations showed 'a glimmer of hope for a future free from the brutal repression that Raisi epitomized.' 

'This reaction underscores the profound detestation and revulsion that the Iranian people felt toward Raisi, a man whose legacy is inextricably linked with the darkest chapters of Iran's recent history,' said Safavi.

Human rights activists and critics of the Iranian theocracy say Raisi was a murderer and authoritarian who led a crackdown on the 2022-2023 demonstrations provoked by the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman arrested by morality police for violating the country's strict dress codes. The late president was sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in abuses inflicted on protesters, as well as mass executions in 1988.  

'His direct role in the 1988 massacre, which saw the execution of 30,000 political prisoners, remains a deeply painful memory for countless families,' said Safavi. 'For these families, and particularly for the mothers who lost their children, the death of Raisi represents a moment of long-awaited justice, albeit incomplete.'

Although many remember Raisi for his brutality, thousands of mourners were seen in Iran on Tuesday for state-sponsored funeral ceremonies. Prosecutors warned people against showing any public signs of celebrating Raisi's death and a heavy security presence has been seen on the streets of Tehran since the crash, The Associated Press reported.

A procession Tuesday morning led by a semitruck carrying the caskets of the dead slowly moved through the narrow streets of downtown Tabriz, the closest major city near the site of the crash Sunday. Thousands in black slowly walked beside the coffins, some throwing flowers up to them as an emcee wept through a loudspeaker for men he described as martyrs. On Wednesday, a funeral presided over by Ayatollah Khamenei will turn into a procession as well.

The caskets later arrived in Tehran to an honor guard at the airport and then went onward to the holy Shiite seminary city of Qom. There, a semitruck surrounded by soldiers in fatigues at one point was swarmed by a crowd of mourners. Some beat their chests and wailed. The truck later picked up speed while others stood alongside the road, watching.

The bodies will be taken back to Tehran on Tuesday night for funeral services Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

The United Nations flag was lowered to half-staff Tuesday to honor Raisi. The U.N. held a moment of silence for the 'Butcher of Tehran' on Monday at the request of Russia, China and Algeria representatives – U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood and others participated. The show of support for the regime in Tehran dismayed human rights activists and Iranian opposition leaders.

'It is utterly regrettable that some Western governments have chosen to express grief over Raisi's death,' said Safavi. 'Such actions are not only a grave insult to the Iranian people, but also a betrayal of the values of justice and human rights. 

'Rather than mourning the death of a despised figure and mass murderer, Western governments should be standing in solidarity with the Iranian people. They should be unequivocally supporting the quest for justice, ensuring that the remaining leaders of the regime, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, are held accountable for their crimes against humanity and acts of genocide over the past four decades,' he added. 

'This is not a time for appeasement or diplomatic overtures to a regime that has continuously oppressed its people.' 

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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