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Look no further than Iran for what one life can accomplish even in death. It's been just over three weeks since Jina Amini, known as Mahsa, was beaten to death / killed by so-called "Morality Police". Her country is now rocked by ongoing demonstrations and calls for changes to the country's strict legal codeIn the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody of the Iran’s morality police last month, civil unrest in the country has grown to a scale larger than what Iran has experienced in years. Protesters are calling for justice for Amini as well as personal and political liberties and accountability from the nation’s government.Rights groups say the protests, which have spread to more than 80 cities in Iran, have led to hundreds of arrests, including numerous journalists, and violence against protesters. Internet access remains limited in the country as the Iranian government strictly regulates its usage. Those analyzing the country’s protests say that the movement likely won’t die down soon.

Flight PS752

On 8 January 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was tragically shot down with two missiles only three minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s IKA airport. After three days of denial and under mounting international pressure, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) finally admitted that the Boeing 737-800 was brought down by its missiles, but the true circumstances of the downing has not since been revealed. This heinous operation claimed the lives of all 176 innocent passengers and crew of the flight.

Bloody November 2019 (Aban 98)

The protests, which began over an abrupt fuel price increase of 200% on November 15, 2019 and lasted for a week, transformed into a broader expression of popular discontent with the government’s repression and perceived corruption.After days of protests across Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appeared impatient. Gathering his top security and government officials together, he issued an order: “Do whatever it takes to stop them”.The government imposed a total internet shutdown from November 15 to 19, which made it easier for the state to carry out unprecedented human rights violations. The government never provided an accurate death toll but official statistics do acknowledge that about 1,500 men, women and children were killed during less than two weeks of protests that started on Nov. 15. According to reports from Human Rights in Iran, approximately 19,000 people were also detained.The regime demanded payment from the families to return the dead bodies of their loved ones and a pledge not to hold memorial ceremonies for them.


In 2003, Kazemi, a Canadian citizen who was born in Iran, was taking pictures of protesters in Tehran, which prompted authorities to arrest her. Kazemi was detained, tortured and raped in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Kazemi later died in the hospital to which her jailers transferred her.The emergency room physician, Dr. Shahram Azam, who treated Kazemi in Baghiyatollah hospital, an IRGC affiliation centre, shortly before her death has since sought asylum in Canada. He said her body showed obvious signs of torture, including a skull fracture, broken nose, signs of rape and severe abdominal bruising.Stephan Hashemi, Kazemi’s only child, filed a civil suit in 2006 against the Iranian government on her estate's behalf and on his own, seeking damages.He waged a tireless campaign to have his mother's body returned to Canada. She was buried in Shiraz, Iran shortly after her death.The Iranian government argued it is immune from prosecution in Canadian courts, but the case went to the Supreme Court of Canada finally on Dec. 4, 2013, after 7 years of seeking justice.Kazemi's lawyers argued that if that was true, the State Immunity Act was a violation of his rights.The suit named the Islamic Republic of Iran; its leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi; and prison official Mohammad Bakhshi.“It’s the regime who are killing people, who are torturing people, who are creating all this misery … Mortazavi is just one little guy among them,” Kazemi’s son said in 2013.The Kazemi case has been a major irritant in the breakdown of Canadian relations with Iran.
Canada recalled its ambassador temporarily at one point, and downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran. It limited diplomatic contact with Iran, and did not allow the country to post an ambassador to Canada.
In September 2012, Canada booted Iranian diplomats out of the country and shuttered its embassy in Tehran. The Harper government said it was acting to protect the safety of its diplomats.

Minorities of Iran

Iran’s constitution names Shi’a Islam as the state religion. It recognizes “Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians” as the only recognized religious minorities. That excludes the Sunnis, Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq) the Baha’is, Gonabadi Dervishes and etc. from the minimum protections and recognitions that have been granted by Iran’s Islamic Constitution. These minorities have been under a lot of pressure by the government in exercising their beliefs over the past 43 years of Islamic Regime being in power. Although Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian (especially converts) minorities of Iran have historically been persecuted, imprisoned, executed, and forcibly exiled, Sunnis and Baha’is and Gonabadis have faced the most brutal persecution over the last four decades. According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, in 2019, Baha’is, Sunnis, and Christians respectively have been the most persecuted by the Islamic Regime.Since July, security forces have raided the homes of more than 35 Baha’is in various cities across Iran. Several persons also have been arrested, including three former leaders, who were later charged with “managing the unlawful [Bahá'í] administration”, which carries a 10-year sentence.Just recently security and intelligence agents violently demolished at least eight homes belonging to Baha’i families in Mazandaran Province and confiscated 20 hectares of their land. Persons who tried to challenge the operations were arrested.Similar to the Bahai’s, and in August 2016 alone, Iran executed 25 Sunni Kurds on charges of Muharibih. In 2018, Iran became the world’s second leading state executioner, after China.The Gonabadi Sufis consider themselves Shia Muslims, but the mystical Sufi branches of Islam have a different interpretation of the Quran.“With any alternative faith, whether it’s Dervishes or Baha’i or others – they see it as a threat to their official religion,” said Omid Memarian of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Discrimination and Violence Against Sexual Minorities

Iran criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death. There is evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, and LGBT people are regularly subjected to discrimination and violence.There is significant evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being frequently subject to arrest, which can result in the imposition of the death penalty. There have been consistent reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years, including murder, assault, harassment, denial of basic rights and services.In February, it was reported that two men had been executed after being convicted for same-sex sexual activity six years previously.In September, it was reported that two women had been sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on earth” and human trafficking. Activists and advocates claimed that the two women had been targeted because they were LGBT activists. The sentence was condemned by LGBT activists and by the European Union. In response to the sentence a group of UN experts condemned the move, calling for a stay of execution.Iran’s Penal Code bans all sexual activity outside of marriage. The death penalty can be applied for same-sex relations. The law is actively enforced and generates persistent hostile treatment of LGBTIQ people in Iran. Iran is formally accepting of transgender people who have undergone gender confirmation surgery; however, transgender Iranians are still subject to violence, discrimination, social rejection, and harassment. Iran has strict censorship laws, which are used to ban LGBTIQ related media and communication, including online. Hate speech by politicians and influential religious leaders against LGBTIQ people is common. Portrayal in the media is overwhelmingly derogatory and negative, presenting LGBITQ identities as un-Islamic and immoral. Due to these commonly held beliefs, LGBTIQ individuals are subjected to harassment, violence, discrimination, and family rejection.

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