Iran: Dimensions of the Martyrdom of President Raisi

Following the incident, Sri Lanka declared a day of national mourning and half-masted the national flag across the country.

by Our Special Correspondent

The tragic crash of the helicopter carrying the President, the Foreign Minister, and other officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, May 21, 2024, which according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran occurred due to adverse weather conditions in the region, was unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This heartbreaking incident has deeply affected officials and political parties, and most importantly, it has caused widespread public sorrow among the great Iranian nation. The Iranian people demonstrated their affection for the Martyrs of Service and the Islamic Republic of Iran by participating in the funeral ceremonies in the millions.

Iran is mourning the loss of its leader and senior government officials. This banner is one of many displayed in Tehran. [Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian]

Leaders and officials from over 50 countries, institutions, and international organizations sent messages of condolence to the Leader and the nation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressing their sympathy over this incident. Presidents of countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Syria, Egypt, Armenia, Tajikistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Belarus, South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates were among those who sent messages of condolence, expressing their solidarity with the Supreme Leader, the government, and the people of Iran. Additionally, the Prime Ministers of Iraq, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Italy, Thailand, Lebanon; the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; the Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan; the President and Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq; the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the President of the European Council; the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; the Secretary-General of the Arab League; the Supreme Political Council of Yemen; and the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Malaysia, Armenia, Switzerland, Norway, and Afghanistan, as well as the spokesperson of the Japanese government, also sent messages expressing their condolences to the government and people of Iran.

Furthermore, Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Islamic Resistance Movement of Palestine (Hamas), the Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine, the Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq, political party leaders in Iraq, and high-ranking political figures from other countries sent condolence messages, expressing their sympathy with the government and people of Iran. A population exceeding 1.8 billion people (23 percent of the world’s total population), including those from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, declared one or more days of national mourning, demonstrating the depth of their grief and solidarity with the Iranian nation.

The massive turnout of the Iranian people at the funeral of the late President and his martyred companions drew significant attention from international media and political observers, being considered a unique phenomenon. Following this tragic incident, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a statement addressing the Iranian people, expressed sorrow over the depth of the tragedy and assured that no disruption or issue would occur in Iran’s affairs or foreign policy. In accordance with Articles 131 and 132 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the First Vice President immediately assumed the responsibilities of the Presidency, taking over the executive management of the country.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates a 50-day period for holding early presidential elections. Accordingly, registration of presidential candidates has taken place, and on Friday, June 28, 2024, the presidential election will be held through a direct vote by the people, and a new President of Iran will be elected. This level of agility and preparedness in the country’s legal and executive infrastructure to manage any unforeseen incident or crisis indicates the robustness of the legal foundations, popular legitimacy, and the role of leadership in the Islamic Republic of Iran as the reliance point for all officials, governing bodies, and people during difficult times.

Martyr Ayatollah Dr. Raisi, during his three years of service as the President of the country, made tireless round-the-clock efforts in steering the country’s economic, political, and cultural currents and succeeded in presenting the populist feature of the Islamic governance of Iran to the global public opinion. During his presidency, in addition to resolving issues and some misunderstandings with neighboring countries, he succeeded in opening a new chapter in regional interactions, prioritizing comprehensive relations with neighboring and regional countries. Membership in organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS are examples of these successes.

Martyr Raisi and his capable and hardworking Foreign Minister were the resounding voices of the Islamic Republic of Iran in highlighting the oppressions faced by the Palestinian people on international platforms. The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in general, and specifically its regional policy, is rooted in strategic rationality, and it is the will of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pursue a detente approach vis-à-vis its neighbors. During the presidency of Martyr Raisi, this policy proved effective, and now relations with neighboring and regional countries are very friendly and progressing.

The extensive presence of heads of state, foreign ministers, and political officials from various countries in the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay tribute to the late Ayatollah Raisi and the late Dr. Amir-Abdollahian, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, indicates the efficacy and competence of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This upward trajectory in relations with neighboring and regional countries will persist with vigor. The emphasis placed by the late President and the late Foreign Minister of Iran on the comprehensive development of relations with Asian countries holds significant importance. It is for this reason that the last foreign trip of the late President of Iran was to Sri Lanka. During this visit, in addition to the inauguration of the Uma Oya Multi-purpose project by the presidents of the two countries, five cooperation agreements were signed with the Sri Lankan government.

The late Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Martyr Dr. Amir Abdollahian, played a pivotal role in strengthening the relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sri Lanka. His efforts in assisting Sri Lanka with debt settlements and undertaking two visits to Colombo within two months underscore this special attention. The warm and profound connection between Iran and Sri Lanka led to the deep sympathy expressed by the Sri Lankan government and people after the tragic helicopter crash that resulted in the martyrdom of the President and his accompanying delegation.

Following the incident, Sri Lanka declared a day of national mourning and half-masted the national flag across the country. The Sri Lankan President extended a condolence message to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, attending the ambassador’s residence with numerous other government officials, and political and religious leaders to sign the condolence book and pay tribute to the martyrs of the helicopter crash. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister engaged in conversations with the Iranian ambassador and sent a condolence message to the Iranian government. Mr. Ali Sabry, the Foreign Minister, along with a high-ranking delegation, attended the funeral in Tehran. High-level Sri Lankan officials, including the Speaker of Parliament, ministers, MPs, military officials, religious leaders, and leaders of political parties, visited the Iranian ambassador’s residence to express their condolences to the Iranian government and people. Furthermore, memorial services and funeral (Janazah) prayers were held in Sri Lankan mosques for the martyrs, highlighting the deep friendship between Iran and Sri Lanka.

The history of Iran-Sri Lanka relations demonstrates that the friendship between the two nations is deeply rooted. Efforts should be made to ensure that these relations remain amicable, warm, and continue to grow. As in the past, dedicated efforts should be made to expand, strengthen, and enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries.