On Monday, December 4, the Canadian Parliament held a session focused on investigating human rights violations in Iran under the clerical dictatorship. The discussions were led by MP Judy Sgro, a senior representative of the ruling party and former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (2003-2005), alongside several parliamentarians, senators, and their assistants.
Speakers during the session linked the current crisis in the Middle East to the destructive role of the Iranian regime. They characterized it as an attempt by religious fascism to conceal the growing suppression within Iran and address the volatile societal situation.
The speakers emphasized the involvement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in domestic suppression and the promotion of terrorism. There were strong calls for the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization in Canada.
The discussion also delved into the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, highlighting widespread massacres and recent executions of political prisoners. Speakers stressed the urgent need to hold the Iranian regime accountable for four decades of crimes, particularly the mass murder of 30,000 political prisoners and activists in 1988 within Iran. The session concluded with a call to end the impunity of regime leaders, including Ebrahim Raisi, known for his role as a member of the Death Commission during the 1988 massacre.
In her remarks, MP Judy Sgro emphasized the need for a new approach to the Middle East, specifically addressing the Iranian regime’s role domestically and regionally. She stated, “We all bear witness to on one hand the bravery and courage of the people of Iran, especially the young girls and women that have exemplified in several months of the uprising in September 2022 that captured the hearts and souls of a million people around the world. The uprising last year was not and should not be seen as an isolated event. Iran witnessed several major uprisings since 2017. One of the bloodiest ones was that of November 2019, and hundreds of people were killed in a matter of days.”
MP Sgro also noted that the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Canada is still an issue in progress, ensuring that things are moving in that direction.
It is important we as parliamentarians stay informed about the role the regime of Iran is playing, both domestically and in the broader region of the Middle East. It was great to hear about the latest developments in Iran from Prof. Ivan Sascha Sheehan and Dr. Ali Safavi. pic.twitter.com/wrB9XSaJMR
— Judy Sgro (@JudySgroMP) December 5, 2023
During the meeting, Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan, the Associate Dean of the College of Public Affairs at The University of Baltimore, delivered a speech that centered on the Iranian regime’s endeavors to infiltrate political and academic centers in the United States and Canada. Emphasizing the significance of comprehending these influence operations, he stated, “Understanding the Iranian regime’s influence operations is crucial for understanding and safeguarding the integrity of U.S. national security and Canadian national security and our democratic institutions. This is particularly so as tensions flare in the Middle East and our respective countries prepare for national elections in 2024 and 2025.”
Discussing the core focus of Tehran’s influence operation, Prof. Sheehan added, “There’s good reason why the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK/PMOI) strike such fear in the Ayatollahs because together, these organizations constitute a female-led movement with an intricate network of support inside Iran and global supporters around the world. In fact, in every corner of the world. Today, the MEK and NCRI have long committed themselves to building a non-nuclear, secular, pluralistic republic that respects minority rights and upholds gender equality. They have a detailed Ten-Point Plan to maintain positive relations with the West and to foster peaceful relations with regional powers. Together, these organizations constitute a movement that can topple the Ayatollahs and return the Iranian people, descendants of one of the world’s great civilizations, to their rightful spot in the international community among respected and civilized nations.”
Prof. Sheehan further elaborated, “The principal objective of this years-long disinformation campaign uncovered by Semaphore was to influence and derail U.S. policy. Those involved also prioritized the promotion of a misleading characterization of the leading Iranian opposition group, the PMOI. By seeking to neutralize favorable impressions of the organization among Washington’s foreign policy elites, the mullahs in Iran sought to take down an entity capable of aiding Western attempts to curtail the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, malign regional agenda, human rights abuses, and its fundamentalist inclination. By brazenly targeting the dissident organization, the operatives hoped to leave U.S. officials with the false impression that there is no viable alternative to the ayatollahs, and certainly not one with a pro-democracy record.”
Addressing the regime’s deceptive tactics, Professor Sheehan remarked, “Inside and outside Iran, Tehran leverages assets and agents, spies and operatives to stay in power and advance a rogue agenda that is contrary to Western interests. These operatives shape policy options, cajole high-level figures and when all else fails, they use fear intimidation, and violence to drive home their agenda.
It was a privilege to brief The Honorable Dan Muys (@DanMuysMP) this morning in the Canadian Parliament. We discussed the looming #Iran threat and measures that can be taken to address security issues in Canada and the United States. Busy day ahead and much work to do. 🇨🇦 🍁 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/aJCIdw3dpy
— Ivan Sascha Sheehan, Ph.D. (@ProfSheehan) December 4, 2023
The goal is always to gain concessions by portraying the regime as invisible, a permanent fixture of the Middle East landscape… Some of these individuals are disguised, disguised as opponents of the regime. Reformists, like the followers of the Shah, would have you believe that monarchy, not democracy, is the answer. I understand that some such individuals may be present here in Canada. But as a scholar, I can tell you that as someone who has studied Iran for much of his career, I can tell you that the Iranian people the Iranian people want democracy, not clerical rule and not a monarchy. The people’s universal call is for a democratic future.”
Prof. Sheehan also discussed his experience studying the Iranian Resistance, arguing, “I have spent a good deal of my career interviewing and observing the Iranian opposition more than 15 years. I’ve met with MEK and NCRI operatives in Washington, right here in Canada, and all over Europe. I have visited with their leaders, and I have been given unfettered access to their rank and file.
I can assure you that their commitment to democracy is authentic and genuine. The individuals that I have met are among the most authentic and dedicated individuals that I have ever encountered in my career. You know, at the outset of my remarks, I noted that as a scholar, I must work with evidence and hard facts. And I have been provided with no evidence, not a shred of evidence, to justify the relentless attacks directed at the regime’s principal adversaries.
The disinformation directed at the MEK and the NCRI simply has no basis in truth. Efforts to undermine these organizations and their supporters are part of an elaborate toy by the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security to undermine their effectiveness.
Why? Because these organizations pose an existential threat to the Islamic Republic. They challenge everything that this misogynistic regime stands for. That this misogynistic regime stands for. And the overwhelming majority of Iranians want to see regime change.”
Privileged to join the parliamentary briefing on human rights in Iran. Thanks to @ProfSheehan and @amsafavi for expert analysis. Canada can push UN SCR 6 resolutions, emphasizing the June 2023 Senate motion led by @ratnaomi to designate the
IRGC as a terrorist organization. pic.twitter.com/y1HYoUpfKa
— Marilou McPhedran (@SenMarilou) December 6, 2023
Joining via Zoom, Mr. Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran also addressed the meeting.
In highlighting recent human rights violations and the escalating rate of state-sanctioned executions in Iran, Mr. Safavi reported, “As we approach the end of the year, that figure has risen to an astounding 707 executions. The Iranian regime is committing these atrocities because it has never been held accountable for its past crimes and genocide.
Regrettably, a culture of impunity has persisted. In 1988, the regime massacred over 30,000 political activists, mostly MEK activists, across the country in what Amnesty International has called a crime against humanity.
Today, the perpetrators of that crime, like Ebrahim Raisi, hold senior positions in the regime. The disturbing narrative of human rights abuses extends to unabated gender discrimination and brutality against women.”
In reference to the revolutionary situation in Iran, Mr. Safavi pointed out, “The regime’s attempts to divert attention to external conflicts, and internal protests persist among various segments of society, echoing the urgent need to address their fundamental needs and rights. Healthcare workers in Arak protest mandatory overtime. Retirees rally in Shush and Kermanshah. And oil sector employs staged protests in Aghajari, Mahshar, Siri Island, Kharq, and Ahwaz. Widespread anti-government protests in October in cities like Tehran, Karaj, Mashhad, Sari, and Shiraz underscore a growing discontent among the people.
Facing the brutality of the IRGC in suppressing any voice of dissent, rebellious youths are increasingly confronting this force and targeting the regime’s centers of oppression, espionage, and embezzlement.
In recent weeks, the rebellious youth have targeted several IRGC bases and the headquarters of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the MOIS, reflecting the resilience of Iranian youth.”
Thank you @JudySgroMP for inviting me to speak to your colleagues at #Canada's Parliament along with @ProfSheehan. "For 44 years, the Iranian people have pursued that heritage of freedom, four decades of defiance against the oppressive grip of a tyrannical regime. Refusing to… pic.twitter.com/OTjWk8CwnD
— Ali Safavi (@amsafavi) December 5, 2023
Calling on the international community to recognize the Iranian regime as the epicenter of terrorism and warmongering, this member of the NCRI FAC stated:
- Designate the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
- Expel the regime agents and spies from Canadian institutions.
- Restore the UN Security Council’s six resolutions consistent with Resolution 2231 and reimpose sanctions against the clerical regime.
- Trigger the snapback mechanism to staunch the flow of petrodollars into the coffers of Khamenei and the IRGC.
- Recognize the Iranian people’s fervent struggle for the regime’s overthrow, and the youth’s courageous fight against the IRGC.
- Hold Ali Khamenei, Ebrahim Raisi, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, the Judiciary Chief, and other regime leaders accountable for genocide and crimes against humanity, particularly the heinous massacre of political prisoners in 1988. This regime must be promptly declared an immediate threat to global peace and security under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.”
Advocating the following measures:
1.Designate IRGC as a terrorist organization.
2. Expel the regime’s agents and spies from Canadian institutions.
3. Restore the UN Security Council's six resolutions, consistent with Resolution 2231, and reimpose pic.twitter.com/QHAYnJeOeL
— Iran Democratic Association (IDA) Canada 🇨🇦 (@IDA_Canada) December 5, 2023