Canada’s foreign minister blames the Iranian regime for the recent death of a woman, who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s forced veiling laws.
In a statement on Friday, Mélanie Joly said: “Canada strongly condemns the reprehensible detention and murder of Mahsa Amini.
Iran’s morality police arrested Amini in the country’s capital, Tehran, last week for allegedly wearing her Islamic headscarf too loosely. Iranian women are required to wear the hijab in public.
Amini later died in police custody and although police say the 22-year-old suffered a heart attack and was not abused, her family doubted that account.
Iranians across the country have since protested in the streets and confronted police, with videos on social media showing women removing and burning their veils. Some women also cut their hair in protest.
“Her death is a direct result of Iran’s systemic and ongoing harassment and repression of women,” Joly said in her statement. “We stand in solidarity with Mahsa Amini’s loved ones and Iranian women.”
Joly also condemned the “violent crackdowns” against civilians and said, “Canada is gravely concerned about possible further crackdowns and the use of additional force against civilians.”
Iranian state television said on Thursday that 26 protesters and police had been killed since protests began last Saturday after Amini’s funeral, although it is unclear how authorities arrived at the figures.
The Associated Press reports that at least 11 people have been killed, based on statements from state and semi-official media.
Iran disrupted its internet and platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp in response to the protests. Anti-government protests were also met with pro-government rallies on Friday.
“We call on Iran to stop escalating tensions and refrain from committing further acts of violence against its own people. We urge Iran to meaningfully address the grievances of all its citizens without discrimination and to protect their right to peaceful protest,” Joly said. .
“Women’s rights are human rights. We salute the courage of Iranian women who are protesting peacefully and we join them in sending a very clear message to the regime: they must end all forms of persecution and violence against women.
CONSERVATIVES AND NDP REACT TO PROTESTS
The House of Commons passed a unanimous consent motion on Wednesday to present their condolences after Amini’s death.
The federal government officially advises Canadians to avoid all travel to Iran and more recently warned against visiting areas where protests are taking place.
In a statement on Twitter On Wednesday, new Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre called Amini’s murder “another heartbreaking act of brutality and murder by the Iranian dictatorship against the women of Iran.”
“Trudeau must finally stand with the Iranian people who are fighting for their freedom and list the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) as a terrorist group,” he added.
The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian armed forces, formed in 1979 after the Iranian revolution.
The United States added the IRGC to the list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 2019.
Canada, meanwhile, has designated the IRGC’s clandestine Quds Force as a terrorist entity, but has not done so for the body itself.
Recent calls for Canada to label the IRGC a terrorist group came following the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by Iranian forces on January 8, 2020, which killed all 176 people on board, including 55 citizens. Canadians and 30 permanent residents. More than 100 passengers had ties to Canada.
In June 2018, the House also passed a Conservative Motion listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity, among other actions.
“Her name is #MahsaAmini. She was 22 years old. She was murdered. She was beaten and murdered by the Iranian regime. It has to happen now,” said Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman. tweeted Wednesday.
In a statement Thursday, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Heather McPherson praised the women and men in Iran who are “taking courageous steps to fight for their rights and freedoms,” adding that the party supports the UN’s call for an independent investigation into Amini’s death.
“Mahsa’s tragic death reminds us that gender-based violence is still a reality for many women and girls around the world and that Canadians are rightly concerned about the current situation in Iran,” McPherson said.
“It is disturbing to hear reports of near total internet blackouts as the Iranian government attempts to quell protests.”
A crackdown on protesters in 2019, triggered by rising petrol prices, led to an estimated hundreds of deaths, with a Reuters report putting the death toll at 1,500.
With files from The Associated Press, CNN and Reuters