Credit: Jordan Hunter

Protesters celebrate Iranian President’s withdrawal from COP26 following calls for his arrest in Scotland

By Jordan Hunter

A protest during the first official day of COP26 celebrated President Raisi’s absence from the conference following a complaint calling for his arrest if he came to the conference.

Protesters gathered in George Square early in the morning for the first day of COP26. While much of the attention has been put on the events happening around the SEC campus, these protesters gathered in the square in opposition to President Raisi. President Raisi was allegedly invited to the conference, but has decided not to attend.

The protesters believed this was the result of their complaint lodged to Police Scotland alleging Raisi’s culpability in over 30,000 killings during the 1988 mass executions of Iranian political prisoners and his direct responsibility in thousands of executions in the following years. The complaint follows a similar path as one in 2019, which resulted in a prison official, Hamid Noury, being arrested by Swedish Police. 

Despite the President’s decision not to appear and thus making the complaint moot for the time being, the group saw it as a victory. They believed that having members of the regime participate in global events legitimises the regime they oppose. One man who helped provide evidence and submit the complaint, Ahmed Ebrahimi, says his wife lost five family members in three separate mass executions, two in 1988. He claimed it was a victory for him and his wife saying: “This regime from top to bottom is involved in the killings, massacres, and murders of the Iranian people, and they should not be allowed in the international community.” He was further impressed with the fact that Police Scotland intended to investigate the allegations. 

They further claimed that the regime has done extensive climate damage. One of the protest’s speakers, Struan Stevenson, was a former Member of European Parliament and helped draft the complaint. He spoke with The Glasgow Guardian shortly before the protest began, stating: “[Raisi] has no interest in the environment at all. The mullahs and Raisi himself have destroyed the environment in Iran. Because of desertification they have lost two third of their agricultural land … They have recklessly been building dams all over the riverways of Iran which has been draining the marshes and draining the waterways, there’s now water shortages and forest fires which has led to the loss of thousands of hectares of forestry.” 

The protest seemed to also support the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI) , a group that supports the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI). The NCRI Deputy Director of the UK  Representative’s Office was in attendance and gave an interview to The Glasgow Guardian in which he said: “These are mainly the families of the victims of the executions in Iran. The people who are here are supporters of the main Iranian opposition movement [the NCRI]. Many of them have lost members of their families and some of them are survivors who spent many years in the jails of the Iranian regime.” NCRI and  had been proscribed as terrorist groups by many Western countries until 2012 when the designation was dropped and has subsequently seen approval from several western countries as a human rights opposition. They however are still described as terrorists by the Iranian and Iraqi governments.  

The vibrant flags and signs accompanied a disturbing display of gallows and mannequins in a jail cell with one of the mannequins being a child, calling attention to the fact Iran in the past has executed minors for crimes and in limited cases still does today. 

The protest did have one vocal counterprotester who decried the event as, “American Propaganda”. She could not be reached for further statement.


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