Madam Speaker, we are having this debate in a democracy where we can agree or disagree and have that contentiousness of ideas. All members of society can participate in voting for our members of the House of Commons.
At the same time as we are having this debate in a free and democratic society, we know there is a darkness over Iran, that there is a vicious and violent suppression of the people of Iran. It is taking place at this very time. Those wanting to speak out against the brutal regime are subject to a whole range of atrocities, including summary execution. At this time, what we are seeing in Iran is a people who are being violently oppressed at all times.
Today we remember, of course, Mahsa Amini, whose crime was simply to not follow the orders of the morality police. She paid for that with her life. Today, as well, we think of the victims of Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, brutally killed by the IRGC. Today we think of all of those people of Iran who are being oppressed.
We know what the situation is. Across the western world, there are those who are speaking out. When we speak out, it does not take the same courage, because when we speak out, when we protest, when we raise our voices in Parliament, we know we are not going to pay for that with our lives. That is not the case for those campaigning for women, life and freedom in Iran. That is not the case for those speaking out against a brutal regime of thugs who are oppressing the people of Iran.
It is important to start by talking about what is actually happening in Iran right now. That needs to formulate the policy of the federal government that responds to Parliament, so that we are doing everything possible to show solidarity with the people of Iran, that we are doing everything possible to end the impunity of the violence and brutal killings of this regime, to ensure that the victims will eventually see justice. Whether that is through the International Criminal Court or banning these individuals for life, we need to ensure Canada's response is proportionate to the brutality the regime is showing to its people.
The Amnesty International report for last year tells the tale of what has actually happened, the scale and scope of the brutality being used against the Iranian people. In its report, Amnesty International says the following:
Iran was rocked by an unprecedented popular uprising against the Islamic Republic system. Security forces unlawfully fired live ammunition and metal pellets to crush protests, killing hundreds of men, women and children and injuring thousands. Thousands of people were arbitrarily detained and/or unfairly prosecuted solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Women, LGBTI people, and ethnic and religious minorities suffered intensified discrimination and violence. Enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment, including through the deliberate denial of medical care, were widespread and systematic. Cruel and inhuman punishments, including flogging, amputation and blinding, were imposed and/or carried out. The use of the death penalty increased and public executions resumed. Trials remained systematically unfair. Systemic impunity prevailed for past and ongoing crimes against humanity relating to prison massacres in 1988 and other crimes under international law.
Amnesty International tells a profound story of the brutality that the thugs of the regime in Iran are exercising against its own people.
The executive summary of this report, and its details in the following pages, are about the ending of freedom of expression, association and assembly; arbitrary detention; unfair trials; discrimination; torture; ill treatment; and all of those things, along with the death penalty and impunity of the IRGC and other thugs associated with the regime. When we look at what is written in this report in black and white, what it actually details, the horrors are unbelievable.
People are having their limbs cut off by the regime. People are having their eyes punctured in the torture chambers by this regime. We are seeing widespread sexual violence by this regime in its torture chambers. We are seeing public executions and summary executions and, beyond that, security forces simply mowing down hundreds of Iranian civilians exercising their peaceful right to protest, to speak out against the regime. They are greeted with mass killings, massacres by the thugs of the regime against its people.
This report by Amnesty International and the many other reports we have seen detailing the widespread human rights violations are not something that, in Canada or in any other country, we can simply turn away from. We have to take every action we can to ensure we are fighting back, fighting in solidarity with the people of Iran, in the face of these atrocities.
The regime is guilty of massive human rights violations against its citizens—legs and arms broken or severed, eyes gouged out. A whole host of horrors is being perpetrated against the people of Iran.
There are also thousands of people—students, young girls and boys in high school—who are being arrested and tortured. Journalists, lawyers, activists, environmentalists, writers, artists and musicians, everyone is subject to this violence. They are killed or tortured and consistently arrested. It is impossible for the citizens of Iran to simply state their opposition, loudly and peacefully, to this violent regime that is trying to impose a violent law on its own people.
All of these points demonstrate how the Iranian people are being oppressed by this regime that, frankly, believes in using violence to stay in power. Today we think of Mahsa Amini, a brave woman who simply wanted to demonstrate against this government's strict rules against women.
She paid for her opposition to the regime with her life.
Of course, there are also all the victims, including Canadians, of the tragedy of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752. All of those victims were slaughtered by an illegitimate regime that is trying to oppress its people.
Given the size and scope of the thuggish, brutal reaction of this regime to oppress its people, what can we do as Canadians? The committee report, which passed unanimously, details the importance of a government response that is strong and proportionate to the brutal human rights abuses we are seeing happening in Iran right now.
I want to take a moment to talk about this corner of the four-cornered House, a minority Parliament where there are four recognized parties, and what New Democrats have been doing. New Democrats have been speaking out, and I want to talk about how they have been speaking out to ensure the voices of the Iranian people and Canadians of Iranian origin are heard in the House and, hopefully, right around the world, including providing some hope and support for the people in Iran.
The member for Burnaby South, the national leader of the NDP, has spoken out incessantly about the human rights violations taking place in Iran. I want to underscore the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who spoke a few minutes ago and who has risen in the House numerous times to decry the brutality of the Iranian regime in oppressing its people. She has raised this issue repeatedly in the House, calling on the government to take action. We have the members for Winnipeg Centre, Victoria, and London—Fanshawe all raising their voices repeatedly in the House, calling on the government to take action.
At the same time, this is an action of solidarity that I know every member of the House shares. We see the brutality, we read the reports and we are saddened and horrified by what is happening in Iran; of that, there is no doubt. However, that solidarity needs to translate into action. Regrettably, the government has not taken all of the actions absolutely necessary to show that proportionate response to the brutality of the regime towards its citizens.
Our foreign affairs critic, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, raised this issue following the terrible killings of the victims on Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752. On October 29, 2020, she raised, on behalf of the NDP, the following motion:
That the House:
(a) condemn the threats, harassment and intimidation tactics which are targeting family members of flight PS752 victims;
(b) call for the government to investigate the complaints; and
(c) call for greater action to protect the safety of all family members of flight PS752 victims.
The motion passed unanimously, to the credit of every member of the House. That is in keeping with our concerns about how this brutal Iranian regime is not only oppressing its citizens but also trying to threaten Canadians of Iranian origin here in Canada.
Last week, our call for a public inquiry was endorsed by all political parties and independents in the House, with the exception of Liberal members, sadly. I wish the motion for a public inquiry had passed unanimously, but it is fair to say that having four of the five parties in the House and all independent members endorse it sends a powerful message not only to the special rapporteur but also to the government that a public inquiry on foreign interference is warranted and needed immediately.
The New Democrats had to steer this motion through, including the issue of Iranian interference. We felt very strongly that Iranian interference, like Russian and Chinese interference, had to be fully investigated through a public inquiry. Our supports for the victims of flight PS752, our concern around Canadians of Iranian origin facing brutal threats from the regime even here in Canada and the regime's interest in disrupting our democratic system because we speak out against the Iranian regime are all vitally important elements. That is why we brought the motion forward. We are happy to see that all parties, except for one, and all independent members supported it.
Last month, the NDP foreign affairs critic, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, put forward a motion at the foreign affairs committee to study the current situation in Iran. It stated:
...examining (i) the federal government’s refusal for listing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, (ii) the connections between people or assets in Canada and the IRGC, and (iii) paths forward to support Iranian human rights activists, artists, journalists, and other political refugees; that the committee invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs to testify as well as additional witnesses....
I am pleased to say that the motion proposed by the member for Edmonton Strathcona, the NDP foreign affairs critic, passed unanimously and has led to the debate we are having today.
Sadly, we have not seen the reaction from the government that we had hoped. It has taken a number of measures with sanctions. There is no doubt about that. We commend it for the sanctions it has put in place so far, but the issue of listing the IRGC, given its horrific connection to the oppression in Iran and the killing of innocent civilians, including those on flight PS752, cannot go without a strong and firm response. That is why we believe the IRGC needs to be listed as a terrorist entity.
The issue that comes up and why we are debating this today is that the government, after this motion passed at the foreign affairs committee, should have immediately moved to do a risk analysis on the IRGC as a terrorist organization and put together a package that would include listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity and possible exemptions. I think all members of this House understand that we want to avoid any sort of collateral damage in making this decision, but it is a decision that needs to be made. That is why we believe the federal government needs to move now and provide information to members of the House so we can proceed to listing the IRGC.
We also believe there are a number of stronger steps, including referral to the International Criminal Court, that Canada can take to ensure that the brutal Iranian regime is held to account. We have to end impunity. We have to listen to the voices: the victims of PS752, Mahsa Amini, the hundreds of civilians who have been brutally killed and the thousands of Iranians who have been tortured, have had their limbs amputated and have been blinded by this brutal regime.
There is no doubt that Canada can be a stronger voice. We need to step up. That is why we are having this debate today. The New Democrats believe strongly that there should be no impunity for the violent thugs who are oppressing the people of Iran, and we hope the government acts accordingly.