Michael Mostyn and Avideh Motmaen-Far: The time for moral equivalency is over. Canada must list the IRGC as a terrorist organization
By Michael Mostyn & Avideh Motmaen-Far
Source: National Post
On Jan. 13, B’nai Brith Canada, in conjunction with two leading Iranian human rights organizations, the Council for Iranian Canadians and Justice 88, made a renewed appeal to the Canadian government to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity in Canada. Our concerns are pragmatic, moral and urgent.
More than a year and a half ago, a motion to list the IRGC was put forward by MP Garnett Genuis in the House of Commons and it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. At the time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed that the process to outlaw the IRGC would proceed. Much to our frustration, this terrorist organization has still not been designated as such. This became even more important following the recent horrific downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 by the IRGC, which killed everyone on board, including 57 Canadians. The Canadian government has provided no explanation for its failure to follow through with listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization, which is contrary to the clearly expressed will of Parliament.
The principal objective of the IRGC — which is tasked with protecting Iran’s brutal Islamist dictatorship and supporting its terror proxies such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Taliban — is to fuel and fund terrorism. The IRGC is one of the most well-financed organs of the Iranian regime and it has deep ties to the Iranian economy itself, as it holds majority ownership of a wide array of Iranian companies in sectors ranging from finance to natural gas to telecommunications. The IRGC trains and funds terrorist operations around the world and is an instrument used to suppress Iran’s own people.
Since 1979, the IRGC has been a serious public security threat throughout the Middle East and around the world. With the support of the Iranian government, it has been responsible for sponsoring, orchestrating and carrying out many deadly terror attacks on foreign soil, from the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Argentina, to the killing of hundreds of American service people and civilians in Iraq, to the recent siege of the American Embassy in Baghdad, to conducting terrorist plots in Germany, just to name a few.
In Toronto and other major cities around the world, the IRGC supports the disturbing Al-Quds Day demonstrations that demonize Israel and incite hatred toward Jews. It is also responsible for slaughtering its own people. During the last outbreak of protests against the Iranian government in November, about 1,500 protesters were massacred and several thousand were detained.
It is worth highlighting that a dangerous incongruity exists in current Canadian policy. In 2012, the government put the IRGC’s Quds Force — which was run by Qassam Soleimani, who was recently assassinated — on the terror watch list, but not the IRGC, which controls it. Today, the IRGC can still operate freely in Canada and can be funded by Canadians through commercial transactions with Canadian companies, as well as personal donations that go toward oppressing Iranians. Put in plain words, this strange legal loophole allows individuals and groups in Canada to provide funding to the IRGC, which, in turn, can buy and supply weapons for Hezbollah and the Taliban.
According to David Matas, B’nai Brith’s senior legal counsel, there is also a pressing legal reason for listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization: doing so will allow Canadians to sue the Iranian government and seize assets through the use of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. “If a terrorist act is committed by the IRGC, but not the Quds Force, a suit is not possible at this time,” Matas said.
To those who argue that listing the IRGC will impede Canadian efforts to co-operate with Iran to ensure a transparent and credible investigation into the Ukrainian plane crash, we say that past experience shows this is highly unlikely. When Canada had full diplomatic relations with Iran, there was no recourse for the horrific rape, torture and murder of Canadian Zahra Kazemi in 2003. Indeed, the Kazemi family is still waiting for her body to be repatriated to Canada.
The Iranian regime is not a trustworthy partner, nor has it ever been. To protect its hold on power, the regime consistently lies, cheats and rationalizes its nefarious actions. We have seen its attempts to lie to cover up its role in the downing of Flight 752 and it was only because of international outrage and scrutiny that it finally admitted the truth. Expecting co-operation from Iran is naive, as evidenced by the fact that Tehran recently called off the investigation with Ukraine and is withholding the black box recording it initially agreed to hand over.
It is long past time for Canada to treat Iran’s government as a criminal regime and to list the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organization so that we are no longer complicit in its murderous activities. The time for moral equivalency is over. Canada must list the IRGC as a terrorist organization.