Thousands of Iranians took to the street on Thursday to protest against rising food prices and corruption. By Friday, the demonstrations turned into protests against the Islamic Republic’s government. In a rare display of dissent, not seen since the failed Green Movement of 2009, protesters demanded freedom for political prisoners and an end to the regime. In videos posted to social media, some protesters chanted of “We don’t want the Islamic regime”, and “Death to Rouhani”, a reference to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Another video posted showed two young men lying motionless on the ground, covered with blood, and a voiceover said they had been shot dead by riot police firing on protesters.
At least 52 people were detained in Iran’s second-largest city of Mashhad as protests over the struggling economy and the Islamic regime spread to Tehran and other cities.
So far, Prime Minister Trudeau, who is pushing for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Islamic Republic of Iran, has chosen to remain silent.
Leader of the official opposition Andrew Scheer expressed the Conservative Party’s support with the people of Iran and their pleas for basic human rights and urged Justin Trudeau to do the same.
“The protests breaking out in cities across Iran shows the strong desire for freedom and democratic rights that exists with the Iranian people. Rather than seeking to normalize relations with the repressive Iranian regime, Justin Trudeau should be supporting the demands for liberty from the people of that country”, Scheer wrote on his official Facebook page. “Canada’s Conservatives stand with the people of Iran and their pleas for basic human rights in the face of one of the world’s most corrupt dictatorships. We are inspired by the courage of average citizens standing up for human rights and liberty despite the threat of retaliation. We call on the Trudeau Liberals to show some courage and stop cozying up to the Iranian regime.”
“Under the oppressive Khamanei regime, Iran has continued to sponsor terrorism abroad, while calling for the destruction of Canada’s ally, Israel. This is unacceptable. Canada can, and must, be a strong voice for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for the people of Iran and for all people everywhere. Justin Trudeau should also use the Conservative Magnitsky Law to sanction Iran’s worst human rights offenders. Finally, we remain deeply concerned by the Trudeau government’s apparent efforts to restore diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime. Justin Trudeau should join us and stand on the side of freedom and democracy.”
In a statement issued on Friday, US State Department strongly condemned the arrest of peaceful protesters and urged “all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption”.
President Trump also expressed his support for the Iranian protesters. “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests”, he tweeted late Friday night.
During last fall’s federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised that if he is elected, he will move to normalize relations with Iran and reopen the Canadian mission in Tehran. On July 21, 2016 during an appearance at a Montreal synagogue, Trudeau said it “would be nice” to resume diplomatic relations with Iran.
The previous Conservative government viewed Iran as a significant threat to international peace and security due to the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, its continued support for global terrorism, its repeated calls for the destruction of Israel, and its disregard for basic human rights.
In 2012, then Prime Minister Harper suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, expelled all Iranian diplomats and formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. The decision to suspend diplomatic relations was based on Iran’s support for Syria’s Assad regime, its failure to comply with UN resolutions on its nuclear program and its genocidal threats against Israel.
In February 2016, Trudeau’s government lifted virtually all sanctions against Iran, paving the way for non-military exports to a country that has long been seen by the West as a pariah state.
Several months later, after a two-year cessation, Iran announced that it is resuming its $70 million-a-year financial support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is listed by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization since 2002.
According to Public Safety Canada, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is one of the most violent Palestinian terrorist groups whose main objective is the destruction of Israel.
Iran’s resumption of terror financing to PIJ comes at an inconvenient time for Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals, who are itching to re-open the Canadian Embassy in Tehran.
During a debate in the House of Commons in 2016, Omar Alghabra, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, brushed off the Conservative Party’s criticism of the Liberal foreign policy and said that re-engaging with Iran will be beneficial if Canada is to be effective in promoting human rights abroad.