Anti-Iran protests grow across Canada
As the uprisings continue in Iran, Canadians across the country are showing their support by organizing and demonstrating, showing their solidarity with the thousands of people who are risking their lives to dismantle the regime.
Demonstrations organized by local human rights groups and Iranian-Canadian organizations took place Saturday in Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal and other communities across Canada. Thousands marched for the Iranian people protesting for human rights.
« This is a serious challenge for the Islamic Republic and certainly a crisis of legitimacy they are facing, » Negar Mortazavi, host of The Iran Podcast, told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “The government, or regime, has been willing and able to quell these types of protests with very brutal violence, firing directly at protesters by security forces.
The uproar was sparked in late September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of the so-called ‘morality police’, a unit which enforces compulsory headscarf-wearing for women and girls in Iran. She was taken to a « re-education center » for not wearing her hijab properly and later died. Her family say she was beaten to death while authorities say it was a heart attack.
Amini’s death has become a symbol of the oppression Iranian women have faced for decades.
In Iran, thousands of people are marching in the streets and many women and girls continue to remove their headscarves in support of Amini. The government in turn used violent tactics to silence protesters. More than 200 people were killed and thousands were arrested, the Associated Press reported.
A woman who spoke to CTVNews.ca on Saturday said watching overseas from Canada the ongoing “human rights abuses” is terrifying.
« I’m not just scared and worried for my siblings and my nieces and nephews (who) live there, » she said over the phone on Saturday. « I’m more worried about what’s happening to all those little kids and young people on the streets. »
CTVNews.ca is protecting the woman’s identity at her request for security reasons.
More than ten years ago, she and her husband moved to Canada with the aim of providing a better life for their daughter. Today, she lives in the Greater Toronto Area and says she is proud of the people protesting in Iran.
« It’s so brave, and the high school girls, the other young girls on the street and the way other men and young boys support them, I’m so proud of them, » she said. « But at the same time, I’m so scared for them. »
Last week, Iranian mountaineer Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without her headscarf. The BBC reported that she disappeared soon after, only to resurface in Tehran, the Iranian capital, making what some call a forced apology for the « unintentional » act.
Instead, protesters took Rekabi as yet another symbol of the uprising’s continuation.
The Iranian GTA woman was present at previous protests in 2009, after Iran’s presidential election was plagued by irregularities and allegations of voter fraud. She says the movement in 2022 is much bigger.
« I know the regime, I know the people and I know the situation and I totally believe that this time it’s not just a protest…it’s the start of the revolution, » she said. .
More recent widespread protests like this gripped Iran in 2019 as Iranians showed their anger over soaring food and gasoline prices. Mortazavi said the use of vicious tactics will have a mixed effect on this uprising.
“We see extreme images of courage and bravery, especially from women (and) young girls who are risking their lives by continuing to protest inside the country,” she said. « But it (the violence) definitely has the effect of scaring people and basically reducing some of the protesters with the presence of security forces. »
The Canadian government responded to the protests in Iran by permanently banning senior regime leaders from entering the country, restricting financial transactions with Iran, and applying sanctions.
More recently, the government has imposed targeted sanctions on Iranian officials, focusing on those linked to propaganda and torture, including the Fars news agency, which is believed to be affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Islamic State, and Iran’s Guardian Council, which blocks elections for candidates who do not align themselves with the regime’s ideology.
As of October 19, Canada has imposed sanctions on 89 Iranian individuals and 177 entities.
Many supporters believe the protests are a revolution causing widespread change across Iran. Mortazavi says it’s too early to know if the protests will have the outcome people are hoping for.
« They chant the end of the system, of discrimination, of the removal of this inequality, of injustice, » she said. “Will the protesters be able to continue and maintain themselves? It depends on many factors how long this movement lasts, especially within the country.