Ottawa

Protesters demand 'dignity and freedom' after Iran crackdown

Approximately 60 people gathered on Parliament Hill to speak out against the Iranian regime following a brutal crackdown that Amnesty International says has killed more than 100 protesters.

According to Amnesty International, more than 100 people have been killed by security forces

'We are here mainly to be the voice of Iranians,' said protester Leila Razmjou, right, who held a sign calling for the end of dictatorship in the country. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Approximately 60 people gathered on Parliament Hill Sunday to speak out against the Iranian regime following a brutal crackdown that Amnesty International says has killed more than 100 protesters.

"We are here mainly to be the voice of Iranians," said Leila Razmjou, who held a sign calling for the end of dictatorship in the country.

"And to ask the government of Canada not to be silent. We want the government of Canada to stand beside us."

Protesters in 100 cities and towns in Iran have been demanding top officials step down after the country's government announced gasoline price hikes earlier this month of at least 50 per cent.

The regime began returning internet access to its citizens Thursday after a five-day nationwide blackout meant to stifle the protests.

Soheila Dalvand holds a sign calling for the freedom of political prisoners in Iran at a rally in Ottawa on Nov. 24, 2019. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

"For one week, internet was shut down," said Saba Rudd, who was at Sunday's rally in Ottawa. "Basically, that was a censorship tactic by the Iranian regime."

If the numbers from Amnesty International are correct — many of those who protested in downtown Ottawa claim the death toll is much higher — it would make the past 10 days the worst street unrest in Iran in at least a decade, and possibly since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Show of solidarity

Sunday's rally was organized to show "solidarity with Iranian people who are protesting in the streets," said Ehsan Bateni, one of the main organizers.

While the federal government hasn't had diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012, Bateni called on Canada to investigate whether embezzlers who once worked for the Iranian regime now live here.

That message was echoed in flyers passed out at the protest.

"[They] have found Canada a safe place to flee to," Bateni said. 

Ehsan Bateni, one of the main organizers of Sunday's protest, said it was intended to show 'solidarity with Iranian people who are protesting in the streets in Iran.' (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Likewise, many at the protest condemned Iran's treatment of women, its suppression of human rights and lack of religious freedom under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. 

"Every human being deserves dignity and freedom," said Razmjou. "Freedom of speech, freedom of thought. The Iranian people are going through oppression through dictatorship."

Also in attendance was Nepean MP Chandra Arya, who said he stood in solidarity with his fellow Canadians and voiced his support for those Iranians fighting for human rights. 

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