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President of Iran dies in Helicopter Crash

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By Mercy Kelani

Iranian President was known for his involvement in the execution of thousands in 1988.

Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President who was known for his strict adherence to the country’s supreme leader and involvement in the executions of thousands in 1988, as well as overseeing the enrichment of uranium to dangerous levels, has passed away after launching a significant assault on Israel and facing widespread protests. He was 63 years old. The tragic Helicopter crash in Northwestern Iran on May 19, 2024, claimed the lives of Raisi, the foreign minister, and other officials.

This incident occurred at a time when Iran is facing challenges internally and in its international relationships. Raisi, primarily known as a cleric, made headlines for his religious gestures such as kissing the Quran at the United Nations. His speeches were at the time likened to sermons rather than diplomatic addresses. Four years after his loss in the presidential election to Hassan Rouhani in 2017, Raisi assumed power in a heavily controlled vote orchestrated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to eliminate any significant rival candidates.

His administration resisted international inspections of nuclear sites.

The timing of his election coincided with heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from a nuclear agreement by President Trump in 2018. The deal was designed to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment in return for economic sanctions being lifted. Despite Raisi expressing a desire to re-enter the agreement with global powers, his administration took a different approach by resisting international inspections of nuclear sites. This resistance was fuelled by accusations of sabotage from Israel, causing a standstill in negotiations to revive the deal during the early months of his term.

In September 2021, Raisi addressed the United Nations, stating that sanctions represent the United States’ modern form of warfare. He emphasized the continuation of the ‘maximum oppression’ policy and expressed a desire for fair treatment and what is rightfully theirs. In 2022, a wave of nationwide demonstrations erupted following the tragic passing of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been arrested for wearing her headscarf loosely. Subsequent months saw a severe government response, resulting in the deaths of over 500 individuals and the detainment of more than 22,000 others.

Tehran orchestrated a massive assault on Israel with multiple drones.

During the month of March, an investigative panel from the United Nations discovered that Iran was to blame for the physical violence that resulted in Amini’s passing. Soon after, a new conflict emerged as Hamas fighters, supported by Iran, directed their aggression towards Israel. In a bold move, Tehran orchestrated a massive assault on Israel with multiple drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in April. Despite Israel, the U.S., and their allies successfully intercepting the attack, it highlighted the escalating tensions in the longstanding rivalry between Iran and Israel.

Raisi, hailing from a lineage dating back to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, was born in Mashhad on December 14, 1960. After his father’s passing at a young age, he pursued Education at a seminary in the sacred Shiite city of Qom, eventually achieving the status of an ayatollah – a prominent figure in Shiite clerical hierarchy. The distinctive black turban he wore served as a symbol of his heritage and religious authority. State media honoured Raisi on May 20, 2024, for his sacrifice in the service of the nation. Khamenei praised Raisi for his unwavering energy and determination. The Peace agreement with Saudi Arabia last year was highlighted as a significant achievement by many.

Related Article: Iran Attacks Israel: What You Need to Know 

However, international activists from organizations such as the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, headquartered in New York, have characterized his presidency as witnessing an alarming increase in government crackdowns and brutal tactics used against nonviolent protesters in Iran. Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the centre, expressed that Raisi governed a nation oppressed by a government that is afraid of its citizens. Ghaemi stated that Raisi’s role was just one of many suppressive forces against the Iranian population, implying that there are numerous individuals who could step in to fill his position.


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