Some Iranian Canadians say they’re taking efforts into their very own palms to research and monitor down Iranian regime members and associates who are actually in Canada — saying the Canadian authorities is just not doing sufficient.
One group even made the extraordinary transfer of publicly shaming a latest arrival at Toronto’s Pearson airport, who they claimed was a regime affiliate, asking how she bought a visa.
The difficulty has ramped up since protests erupted throughout Iran final fall after the in-custody demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran’s strict guidelines requiring girls to cowl their hair with a hijab, or headband.
As demonstrations have continued in opposition to the federal government of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the nation and world wide, dissidents worry supporters of the regime could also be leaving for safer harbours — like Canada.
“They’re terrorists,” stated Mojdeh Shahriari, a human rights lawyer in Vancouver. “Would you like these individuals to roam round in Canada unchecked? Are you OK with that? I don’t suppose so.”
Shahriari is a member of a company known as StopIRGC, a gaggle of volunteers who’re dedicating money and time to comply with leads on regime members and associates right here in Canada.
She says they’ve obtained greater than 200 experiences and are wanting into the strongest leads, generally with the assistance of a non-public investigator. As soon as a strong file is constructed, they may flip over the proof to authorities to take additional motion.
“If Canada was doing what it’s presupposed to do to maintain Canada secure, there can be no want for something that we’re doing,” she stated.
Regime officers in Canada outed earlier than
This isn’t the primary time involved residents have outed associates of the Iranian regime in Canada.
In 2021, a high-profile former Tehran police chief was noticed operating on a treadmill in Richmond Hill, Ont. Morteza Talaei was in command of Tehran’s police in 2003 when Iranian Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was overwhelmed to demise in custody.
An Iranian dissident noticed and filmed him; these pictures went viral. Many locally needed to know the way it was attainable he had been allowed to enter Canada.
On the time, Talaei wasn’t on any sanctions record.
Final fall, CBC Information and different information retailers despatched inquiries to the federal government and to CSIS about Talaei, and shortly after that he was added to the sanctions record, which ought to forestall him from coming into the nation once more.
On the time, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) wouldn’t touch upon his case, citing privateness laws.
On Nov. 14, the federal authorities designated Iran as a regime that engages in terrorism and systemic human rights violations and banned regime members, together with their family, from coming into Canada. However they’ve fallen in need of designating it as a terrorist group, one thing critics say could be very regarding.
“We [Canada] have dragged our toes since 2018 and never listed this group as a terrorist group, whereas we acknowledge that they’re engaged in terrorism, so it completely is mindless, I would really like a solution,” Shahriari stated.
Dozens of Iranian Canadians, together with Shahriari, have advised CBC they’ve issues of regime presence already right here. Some say they’ve felt watched — at house or whereas taking part in protests.
“We’ve got had many suspicious individuals roaming round within the protest, taking footage, and you’ll’t accuse anybody with out understanding precisely who they’re. Nevertheless it’s that uncomfortable feeling that lots of people have, their wanting over their shoulders,” she stated.
“That uncomfortable feeling could be very a lot part of life in Canada particularly. And in order that’s why that’s the primary concern for me.”
Final October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed a few of these fears to be true.
“We all know there are individuals in Canada now who’ve benefited from the horrific regime in Iran to dwell life in Canada — effectively, we are saying no extra,” Trudeau stated whereas at a protest in Ottawa.
However individuals like Shahriari say that’s not sufficient.
“Even throughout the legal guidelines that we’ve, they shouldn’t be in a position to come to Canada. However they preserve coming. So I’m as shocked as anybody else. Individuals generally ask me, ‘You’re a lawyer, how is that this taking place?’ I actually don’t know,” she stated.
‘Immense anger’ at Canadian authorities
Whereas StopIRGC has been investigating and advocating, others are taking extra excessive actions — even publicly shaming individuals they consider to be related to the regime.
At Toronto Pearson Worldwide airport final December, a small group waited in arrivals for a traveller who they consider is affiliated with the regime. They stated that they had obtained ideas from dissidents inside Iran.
Footage taken by the group and posted on YouTube exhibits a small group filming on their telephones and yelling at a girl, accusing her of working for the regime. They comply with her via the airport; the footage rolls for greater than half-hour.
“She simply got here to Canada, she used to work for the Iranian regime workplace and we’d prefer to know who gave her a visa, and we would like the Canadian authorities to research that,” one man shouts at cops who’ve come to interrupt it up.
CBC has not confirmed any of the allegations being made within the video.
Nevertheless, the sentiment motivating these actions, the necessity for solutions on how members of the regime or its associates are moving into Canada, is a priority expressed by many locally.
“There’s the specter of extra, of individuals going too far, of individuals being slandered, and I’ve seen examples of that,” stated Kaveh Shahrooz, a human rights activist extra discreetly monitoring regime members in Canada; he receives ideas and punctiliously researches these leads.
“I feel there’s immense anger at Canadian authorities. The horrors that have been inflicted on us and our households in Iran have been exported right here to Canada,” he stated.
“I’ve personally been in lots of conferences with authorities officers saying, people, it is a actual menace to this nation. And we’ve at all times been dismissed, politely dismissed,” Shahrooz stated.
Shahrooz likens Iranian officers leaving Iran now to Nazi leaders fleeing Germany for Argentina and elsewhere on the finish of the Second World Conflict.
“I fear that the identical factor goes to occur because the Iranian regime comes below stress and hopefully collapses. And a whole lot of them, I believe, are gonna be coming to Canada,” he stated.
Canada’s spy company, CSIS, advised CBC Information it continues to research the specter of the regime in Canada. Final fall, it introduced it was following credible “threats to life emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The workplace of the general public security minister responded to CBC Information’s request for remark and famous that Canada has already banned 1000’s of Iranian regime members from coming into the nation.
“Which means tens of 1000’s of senior members of the Iranian regime, together with many members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are actually inadmissible to Canada,” the assertion learn.
“Along with being banned from coming into Canada, present and former senior officers current right here could also be investigated and faraway from the nation,” the assertion learn.
Within the meantime, Shahriari stated StopIRGC has by no means been busier.
“We’re not going to cease doing the work we’re doing. We’re getting increasingly more experiences and can proceed to followup on every one,” she stated.
“It’s a fear about Canada. What does that say about our nation?”