Queen’s student petitions Canada amid human rights abuse in Iran

MP Mark Gerretsen brings petition to House of Commons

Protesters against the Iranian government congregate outside City Hall on Oct. 29, 2022.

Queen’s Iranian student Niki Ehsan, ArtSci ’25, is petitioning the Government of Canada to label the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—or “morality police”—as a terrorist entity.

The petition garnered 5,381 signatures from across Canada and received the support of Mark Gerretsen, MP for Kingston and the Islands. Submitted by Gerretsen to House of Commons on January 17, it called for the Government to investigate the IRGC’s threats toward Iranian Canadians.

The petition also calls for the creation of legislation to revoke the visas of Iranian officials living in Canada. There is a request for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to end negotiations with Iran.

Ehsan’s petition was read out in the House of Commons on March 6. A government response is expected within 45 days, as per Privy Council Office regulations.

“I know that [the Liberal caucus] is very supportive of the [Iranian] revolution,” Gerretsen said in an interview with The Journal.

Gerretsen said the petition was a “no brainer” and suggested other ways the Canadian Government could support Iranians in Canada, such as trade embargos or tariffs.

The MP drew attention to the “strings attached” to declaring the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

“There are always consequences, and there are always caveats.”

With the support of the Iranian Association of Queen’s University, Ehsan has been a prominent voice in the Women, Life, Freedom movement on campus.

“As soon as I was old enough to know I was Iranian, I had known about the brutality of the Islamic regime,” Ehsan said in an interview with The Journal.

The Women, Life, Freedom movement was sparked by  the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. The 22-year-old Kurdish woman murdered in custody of the ‘morality police’ for improperly wearing a hijab.

Iranian laws prohibit women from singing and dancing in public, getting a divorce, or showing their hair in public.

“[Iranian freedom fighters] are facing death to fight against the Islamic regime,” Ehsan said.

Freedom fighters across Iran have faced execution by hanging, torture, public beatings, and suspected toxic gas poisonings in female schools at the hands of the Islamic regime.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied the government’s involvement in the poisonings. As of February, Khamenei confirmed that “tens of thousands” of protesters were detained and their well-being remains unknown.

Ehsan wants to speak up on behalf of “[her] people fighting for the freedoms we take advantage of every day here in Canada.”

In 2018, the Liberal caucus declined to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outwardly expressed his support for Iranians, joining protesters in Ottawa in October 2022 following Mahsa Amini’s death.

“It is going to be interesting to see if [the Government of Canada] really does stand in solidarity with Iranian freedom fighters or if it is all just words,” Ehsan said.

A response from the Government is expected in late April. Until then, the Iranian Association at Queen’s has continually provided support for Iranians on campus.

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