9 Jan 2023

Protesters in Iran 'dying on the street' but govt remains silent - Green MP

12:38 pm on 9 January 2023
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Green MP Golriz Ghahraman. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Women's rights protesters in Iran are "dying on the street" but the New Zealand government remains silent, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman says.

The Green Party continues to criticise the government's inaction against Iran, after the execution of two men who were involved in the nationwide protests after the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini.

Mohammad Mahdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged after allegedly killing a member of the country's security forces during the protests.

Ghahraman said these were extrajudicial killings by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards without fair trial.

New Zealand should urgently designate the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity as the US and Canada have done, she said.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the group did not meet the legal criteria to be designated.

Ghahraman told Summer Report Ardern's stance was "very unclear" to her.

This UGC image posted on Twitter reportedly on October 26, 2022 shows an unveiled woman standing on top of a vehicle as thousands make their way towards Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Mahsa Amini's home town in the western Iranian province of Kurdistan, to mark 40 days since her death, defying heightened security measures as part of a bloody crackdown on women-led protests. - A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since 22-year-old Amini died on September 16 following her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country's strict rules on hijab headscarves and modest clothing. (Photo by UGC / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UGC IMAGE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES, AFP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE'S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND...

Waves of protests have swept Iran since the death in custody in September of Mahsa Amini, detained by morality police for allegedly breaking the strict rules on hijabs. Photo: AFP / UGC

"It is heartbreaking. These are women's rights protesters, they are democracy protesters and they are absolutely dying on the street and they keep turning up.

"To see a 22-year-old man hanged for being a women's rights protester and for our government to be uniquely silent among our ordinary friends and security partners is devastating."

Ghahraman said New Zealand was becoming an outlier given its silence.

"We are used to being loud on human rights issues, a principled voice on the world stage and leading on these types of issues. It's now coming up to four months."

Mahsa Amini died after being arrested in Iran.

Mahsa Amini. Photo: Supplied

She said every political party in Parliament had agreed to sign a letter she drafted calling on the government to designate the Revolutionary Guards.

While the government had imposed sanctions on three people in Iran, they had been in relation to helping Russia with its war on Ukraine.

If ever there was a signal some people's lives mattered more than other, Ghahraman said this was it.

RNZ approached the government for comment, but it referred questions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

MFAT said New Zealand was "appalled" there have been further executions of protesters in Iran.

"No other like-minded country has expelled its Iranian Ambassador in light of the events that have taken place in Iran over the past few months.

"Maintaining diplomatic channels is important, not least to express our concerns and expectations directly to the government of Iran."

MFAT said the New Zealand government has taken "strong actions" against the human rights violations in Iran, including travel bans on Iranian officials.

In October 2022, the government announced it was suspending its bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with Iran.

The two countries first established dialogue in 2018 to discuss human rights concerns. The first session was held in 2021 and the next was due to take place in late 2022.

But Foreign Affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said bilateral approaches on human rights were no longer tenable when Iran was denying basic human rights and violently suppressing protests.

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