Canada’s foreign minister condemns the death of Mahsa Amini in Iranian police custody and the state’s subsequent crackdown on civilian protests.
“Her death was a direct result of Iran’s systematic and continued harassment and oppression of women,” Melanie Joly said in a media statement released Friday.
Amini, 22, died last week after being arrested by Iran’s vice squad for “inappropriate clothing” after allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Her death sparked a nationwide wave of protests against human rights, security and an economy reeling from international sanctions.
VIEW | Protesters in Iran take to the streets
Women have played a prominent role in the demonstrations. Some have publicly burned their veils and cut their hair in a direct challenge to church leaders.
At least nine people have been killed in clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters, according to a report by The The US Express News. An Iranian state television host suggested on Thursday that the death toll from the mass protests could rise to 17, but did not say how he reached that figure.
“We call on Iran to stop escalating tensions and refrain from further acts of violence against its own people,” Joly’s statement said. “We urge Iran to meaningfully address the grievances of all its citizens without discrimination and to protect their right to peaceful protest.”
Earlier this week, Joly said Ottawa was following the protests closely and called for “a full and full investigation into the actions of the regime” regarding Amini’s death.
Other Western governments, such as the US and France, condemned Amini’s death earlier this week.
“Mahsa Amini should be alive today,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. “We call on the Iranian government to end the systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest.”
Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman criticized Joly’s statement, saying Canada’s response to Iran “requires more than words.”
“Canada should view the countless cases of cruelty against Iran’s women and its crackdown on fundamental human rights and freedoms as a call to finally [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard] as a terrorist organization,” Lantsman said in a press statement.
On Thursday, Iranian authorities warned that protests against Amini’s death would have repercussions. The Revolutionary Guards called on the judiciary to prosecute “those who spread false news and rumours” in an apparent attempt to put down the demonstrations.
NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said the government should be more proactive in advocating for women’s rights in Iran and other countries.
“This is a responsibility that must be taken seriously — not just after crises, but in a sustainable and purposeful way,” McPherson said in a media statement.