Ebrahim Raisi
Ebrahim RaisiREUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

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 said, according to 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 United Nations should be standing with the people of Iran, not memorializing their decades-long oppressor," said the US official. "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.

Raisi’s role in the 1988 mass executions led some to call him the “Butcher of Tehran”. Some 5,000 people were killed in the executions, which critics called a purging of political prisoners. Raisi was a member of a so-called “death panel” which sentenced prisoners to death during the mass executions.

On May 20, the UN Security Council stood at the beginning of an unrelated meeting for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the helicopter crash, including Raisi.

US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood was one of the officials who stood for the moment of silence.

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