Iranian-Canadians call on MPs to take a stand against regime’s deadly crackdown

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Iranian-Canadians call on MPs to take a stand against regime’s crackdown
Some Iranian-Canadians want Members of Parliament to stand up against a violent crackdown by the Iranian government after weeks of protests against the regime. Thousands have been arrested, and countless people face execution after what critics call sham trials. Negar Mojtahedi reports – Dec 15, 2022

Golnaz Fakhari is overcome with grief.

The Vancouver resident, who is Iranian-Canadian, has been watching with horror as the civil unrest in Iran has shifted into a deadly new phase.

“When the first execution happened, it was as if someone took out something underneath me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, I was paralyzed.”

The executions of Iranian protestors, without any legal representation, evidence or chosen legal counsel is tearing her apart, but she’s transforming her pain into action.

Fakhari is pleading with Canadian Members of Parliament to become political sponsors of Iranian political prisoners, most of whom are in danger of imminent execution on bogus charges.

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“What this political sponsorship is, the MP will take responsibility for one or two prisoners. They raise awareness about them, they keep track on the news about them and they urge their own governments to fight for their release,” she said.

So far, no politically-sponsored Iranian prisoners on death row have been executed.

Click to play video: 'German MP Ye-One Rhie on political sponsorship of Iranian prisoners'
German MP Ye-One Rhie on political sponsorship of Iranian prisoners

Fakhari has written to dozens of Canadian MPs to plead the case.

Global News reached out and heard back from Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry.

Fry said she is now considering to be a political sponsor, as it is something MPs in Canada can do.

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The idea of political sponsorship started with MPs from Germany, with Ye-One Rhie leading the cause with her sponsorship of rapper Toomaj Salehi.

Dozens of German MPs have since taken on sponsorship and other European countries like Sweden have joined in.

Rhie uses her status as an MP to put pressure on the Islamic Republic, to take on the responsibility of a political prisoner, to keep track of any news on them, and to ask her government for their release.

The tactic decentralizes responsibility to ensure each prisoners get proportional attention. Rhie says with 18,000 protestors in prison it can be overwhelming and exhausting for the Iranian community to keep track of all of them and raise awareness.

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“It’s emotionally draining. We feel connected to the people of Iran because our days are starting pretty similarly to that of Iranian people and people of Iranian roots because the first thing we are checking right now is has there been an execution,” she said.

“We are still sleeping with one eye open. It’s not an easy job. It’s something that you have to be passionate about.”

Rhie is encouraging Canadian MPs to follow suit, and said if a politician can use their mandate to change people’s lives for the better, they should do it.

Click to play video: 'Iranian-Canadian doctor makes plea for his friend on death row'
Iranian-Canadian doctor makes plea for his friend on death row

She added that she feels deeply connected to Toomaj and the Iranian community at large. She is pleading for more information about Toomaj’s health.

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She said she wants the Islamic Republic to know that parliamentarians all over the world are watching very closely.

“Make some noise. Show the people in Iran, the regime in Iran, that we are watching. It’s the publicity they don’t want. But they also know they have to take responsibility if they continue treating their prisoners and people so cruelly,” Rhie said.

An MP in Frankfurt recently sponsored Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou and his wife Farzaneh.

Ghare-Hassanlou has deep roots in Canada with many of his friends having immigrated to Canada after medical school in Iran.

The couple’s sponsorship is welcome news to Iranian-Canadian Dr. Mojtaba Yekrang Safakar who has been friends with Ghare-Hassanlou for 30 years.

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“What you don’t see in the court is justice. What they do is a good representation of injustice and cruelty,” Yekrang Safakar said.

“He [Ghare-Hassanlou] presented to the court with broken ribs. He was healthy when he was arrested. He didn’t have any broken ribs,” he added.

“Never did the Judge ask Hamid what happened to your ribs. Who did this to you?”

Yekrang Safakar said that when his friend was in hospital with damaged lungs and trouble breathing, he was assessed by a forensic medical specialist, who produced a report saying Ghare-Hassanlou was not fit to stand trial.

“Twenty-four hours later after this report, Hamid was forced to attend court to present before judge, to present without any medical care,” he said.

A drive for justice is what motivates Fakhari to carry on, hoping her campaign to get Canadian MPs on board with political sponsorship will stop the executions.

“When you’re dealing with a regime the Islamic Republic that doesn’t deal with any international rules, when you find a firm ground to all them accountable you have to take it,” she said Fakhari.


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