He was a prosecutor of Iran’s Islamic revolution and acquired a notorious reputation for the arbitrary executions of thousands of opponents. A few decades later he oversaw the judiciary’s 2009 trials of anti-government protesters and was denounced overseas, not least by the United Nations, The New York Times reports:
But on Tuesday the former prosecutor, Seyyed Alireza Avaei (left), now Iran’s minister of justice, appeared at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, one of nearly 100 ministers and dignitaries to speak at the start of its main session this year. The reaction inside and outside the council was outrage….Outside the United Nations offices, several dozen Iranian opponents of Iran’s government, mostly from Switzerland and France, noisily denounced Mr. Avaei’s appearance, the 1988 “massacre” in which he played a prominent part and the repression of critics and dissidents.
Avaei’s appearance was “an insult” to the memory of victims of his trials and to human rights defenders, said Impact Iran, a coalition of nongovernment groups monitoring human rights in Iran. “By choosing a major violator as Iran’s voice on human rights,” it said in a statement, “Iran is also making a mockery of the Human Rights Council and showing contempt for the U.N. human rights system as a whole.”
Avaei has been complicit in a wide range of human rights abuses, according to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy. The foundation commissioned an inquiry into the 1988 massacres and published a subsequent report.
“Minister Avaei oversaw the summary executions of Iranians in the late 1980s,” the US said. “As the recent head of the Tehran judiciary and current Minister of Justice, Avaei oversees systematic arbitrary arrests and detentions of Iranians engaging in peaceful political and civic activism, and imprisons them in a network of facilities notorious for suspicious deaths, the use of torture, and denial of medical care.”
The Islamic Republic is heading toward a crisis caused by social tensions between generations, says Stanford University’s Francis Fukuyama.
“In Iran, there has been a social revolution going on beneath the surface,” he told the recent World Government Summit in Dubai. “There is a young population, well-educated women in particular, who do not correspond to the rural, conservative power structure that runs the country. It’s headed toward some kind of explosion and I’m not sure of the outcome, but it is not a stable situation.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the rights council “be ashamed to allow Mr. Avaei to address its membership.” Haley used the chance to again criticize alleged shortcomings of the council that she had laid out in speeches in Geneva in June, VOA adds.
“Yet again the council discredits itself by allowing serial human rights abusers to highjack its work and make a mockery of its mandate to promote universal human rights,” Haley said. “This does nothing but reinforce the United States’ call for much needed reforms at the council for it to be viewed as a good investment of our time and money.”