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Queen’s student petitions Canadian government for action on Iran

Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by YGK News Staff

A petition originated in Kingston has garnered over 3,300 signatures and counting as of Tuesday.

Presented by second year Queen’s student Niki Ehsan and sponsored by Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen, the petition asks the Government of Canada to take stronger action against the Islamic Republic of Iran as protests and state sanctioned violence continue to rock the country.

The petition to the House of Commons asks for the federal government to take five steps to act “urgently and rigidly” against Iran, including investigating reported stalking threats against against Iranian-Canadians, revoking visas for Iranian officials in Canada, and asking allies to cease all negotiations with Iran.

Ehsan says above all, designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code is of the utmost importance.

“The main point we have is to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity,” Ehsan said.

“By listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization it de-legitimizes the regime, which is so important to a theocratic dictatorship to be seen as legitimate… that is our main goal, to get the Government of Canada to actually take meaningful action against this brutality and not simply just condemn it with words.”

The petition opened for signature on January 17 and as of Tuesday night had garnered 3,345b signatures spanning across every province in the country.

Ehsan said that all Iranians in Iran or living abroad have experienced some form of the terror of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Protests erupted in September after the death in detention of 22 year old Mahsa Amini, a woman arrested by Iran’s morality police for wearing “immodest clothing” described by protestors as a loose strand of hair.

The nation was quickly swept with protesting citizens, and demonstrations in Kingston and other cities around the world have been held on several occasions.

Ehsan said the protests that have been ongoing since September are something that simply don’t happen in Iran, and have inspired her and other Iranians abroad to do what they can.

“Protests like that don’t break out in Iran,” Ehsan said.

“It’s met with severe brutality. So seeing that abroad, seeing my brothers and sisters fighting for basic freedoms and basic human rights I knew I had to do what I had to to help the voices in Iran be heard.”

The petition’s sponsor Mark Gerretsen says it’s rare that he would decline an opportunity to sponsor a petition, and this one revolves around a very important topic.

He said there is more Canada and its allies can do for the fight of the people of Iran, and that he looks forward to presenting the petition to the House of Commons when it’s ready.

“I don’t think that we’re ever going to be able to really operate unilaterally without some kind of coordinated approach with our allies, but I think that there is more we can do,” Gerretsen said.

“When you hear about the atrocities that are happening in Iran over people that are basically standing up to be heard and to have the right to voice their opinion… I’m very happy to have the opportunity to sponsor the petition.”

Ehsan said with time left with the petition open for signatures, she and the Iranian Student Association at Queen’s will take time to organize next steps.

Despite Gerretsen’s sponsoring of the bill, she said there was no guarantee or expectation that he would present it to the House of Commons, and said the ideal scenario is going to Pierre Polliviere’s office in hopes the leader of the opposition will table the petition and push for the changes to be made.

Ehsan said Polliviere has been a staunch critic of Iran’s actions and has been vocal about designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

She says even though he has become a rather polarizing figure in politics, namely for his support of the “Freedom Convoy” and his appeal to far right voters in Canada, there’s no concern about having the Conservative MP table the petition as the issue should transcend partisan discussion.

“We’re really just hoping that everyone, western leaders can come together to help Iran and help people that are dying at the hands of pointless brutality,” Ehsan said.

The petition is open for signature until February 16.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttps://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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