Manitoba’s Iranian community rallies outside of Human Rights museum after latest executions

Members of Manitoba’s Iranian community rallied outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on Saturday to call for justice after the recent executions of three young men in their home country.

Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi were executed on Friday in Iran’s central city of Isfahan, the country’s judiciary announced on Twitter.

The three were implicated in the deaths of two members of the Basij paramilitary force and a law enforcement officer in November during nationwide protests. Rights groups say the three were subjected to torture, forced into televised confessions and denied due process.

“Providing these kinds of events allows families to just gather together [and] show strength, resilience and solidarity with each other,” said Kourosh Doustshenas, who was part of Saturday’s rally in Winnipeg.

The latest executions are part of a long chain of brutality by the regime, he said.

Doustshenas’s fiancée, Forough Khadem, was one of the victims of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752.

That plane was shot down minutes after taking off from Tehran, Iran, in January 2020. It was hit by two surface-to-air missiles fired by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, killing all 176 passengers.

Saturday’s rally was a chance for people with loved ones killed by Iran to gather in unity, Doustshenas said. Similar rallies were held in major cities across Canada.

Protests erupted across Iran last September after the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strict Islamic dress code.

“You can’t have a normal life if [you were] born in Iran or if you were born in an Iranian-Canadian family,” Arian Arianpour, president of the Iranian Community of Manitoba, told CBC News.

“On a daily basis, you hear or read news that upsets you.”

‘These are not ordinary times’

The Iranian Community of Manitoba is demanding that Canada declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp a terrorist organization, cease nuclear negotiations with Iran and put pressure on allies to expel Iranian ambassadors.

“Although Manitobans have been so kind and have been supportive, these are not ordinary times. We are living our darkest hours and we need actions — not just words from leaders,” said Arianpour.

“We are the voice of people who do not have a voice due to the violent crackdown in Iran, people who are sacrificing their lives on a daily basis.”

A woman is pictured.
Mehrnaz Eghtesadi came to the rally to speak up for her family and others in Iran. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Mehrnaz Eghtesadi, who said she left Iran two years ago to have a better life, attended Saturday’s rally to speak up for her family and others in Iran, who she says are being silenced.

“We live with that hope, with that wish, that one day our country could be free like other countries,” she said.

Eghtesadi said the three men executed on Friday didn’t deserve to die.

“We are so empty handed and we can’t do anything except [come] here,” she said. “Whenever innocent people are under attack, it’s our duty to have their back.”