If you have ventured to downtown Vancouver, you have seen the throngs of people protesting with signs reading Woman, Life, Freedom, and shouting slogans against the murderous regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the Iranian diaspora, to which I belong, demanding an end to the regime’s tyranny.
Some may know these protests were sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, following her arrest by the regime’s morality police for not wearing her head scarf correctly. Some may wonder, though, why one person’s death would result in such fervent protests. Because Amini’s senseless death was the powder keg moment that unleashed 43 years of suppressed wrath and fury.
Fury at a murderous regime that took a country hostage 43 years ago and has had a chokehold on power by killing off dissidents, plundering its resources for the enrichment of their own inner circle, and controlling everyone’s actions through legislated fear. This is “governance” through brutality.
So why should you care? The IRI is a ruthless, self-serving dictatorship that has no regard for anything other than its own survival. It does not care about international norms that promote stability and security and as such, poses a threat to the global community.
One need only look at Putin’s Russia to see the horrors caused by a self-serving regime, who plays by its own rules.
Consider the tangible stuff first: oil and gas. Iran holds the second largest gas and third largest oil reserves in the world. The current inflated cost of goods is largely due to the unpredictable supply of Russian oil and gas to the global economy. It would be to the international community’s economic interest to deal with a rational actor, who deals in good faith, rather than an unpredictable dictatorship, which has no regard for international norms.
Next, consider the threat of nuclear proliferation. Years of clandestine efforts to enrich uranium and produce plutonium resulted in suspicions of Iran wanting to develop a nuclear weapon, despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran’s continued lack of transparency has made it difficult for the International Atomic Energy Association to ascertain Iran’s compliance to the NPT. The Iranian regime is deceptive and only cares about expediency. It should never have nuclear capabilities or be trusted to negotiate in good faith.
Thirdly, the IRI has been a state sponsor of terrorism since its inception in 1979, examples of which include Hezbollah and Hamas. More recently, it has added cyber terrorism to its repertoire of activities.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the driving force behind sophisticated cyberattacks. You might think it is far-fetched for the IRI to interfere with power grids or dam systems, but it already has and will again.
Fourthly, the Iranian regime supports other state actors who work toward the detriment of the international system, most current of which is Russia. It has supplied drones to Russia, which are used to target Ukrainian hospitals, power grids and apartment buildings.
Finally, you should care because this is a regime murdering innocent people. One need not look further than the downing of flight PS752 by a surface-to-air missile. To this day, the IRI has not taken responsibility for the murders of the 176 individuals on this flight.
This brutal regime executes more of its citizens on a per capita basis than any other country. The laundry list of offences deemed worthy of capital punishment include homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, political dissidence and any other offence subjectively deemed un-Islamic by a bunch of misogynistic, dogmatic, self-serving, hypocritical clerics.
It is against this backdrop that Iranians around the world have revolted and the ones leading this revolution are the youth, particularly young women and girls. Their fearless leadership has inspired Iranians everywhere to demand and end to the IRI. Their bravery, however, is not without cost.
The regime is targeting young people. There have been raids on all academic institutions, including throwing tear gas into elementary school courtyards during recess and opening fire on university students by plain clothed security forces.
The IRI is no different than Hitler’s Third Reich or Idi Amin’s Uganda. Iranians have taken to the streets, but they need the international community’s help.
Please contact your MP and demand that they isolate the Iranian regime. Demand that those associated with the IRI, who are in Canada, have their assets seized and be expelled immediately.
Be the voice of the mothers whose children have been murdered. Be the voice of the students and reformers who are jailed and tortured. Be the voice of the girls and women who are told to lead submissive and suppressed lives. Be the voice for a just Iran and a stronger international system.
Be the voice against fascism and stand on the right side of history.
Mehrgan Filsoof is a longtime resident of the North Shore and a member of the Iranian diaspora. She holds a master’s degree in international relations.