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Iran Slams Canadian Motion To Designate IRGC as “Terrorist” Entity

By Nigar Bayramli May 14, 2024

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Canadian MPs voted unanimously in support of the motion following a justice committee report that called on the government to classify the IRGC as a "terrorist" entity, on May 8, 2024. / Immigration.ca

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani has condemned the Canadian House of Commons vote in support of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a "terrorist group".

"It is contrary to the standards and accepted principles of international law, including the equality of sovereigns and non-interference in the internal affairs of governments," Kanani said in a statement published by the Iranian Foreign Ministry's website on May 11.

The Iranian spokesperson described the vote as "an unwise and hostile move" and said that Tehran "reserves its rights to respond and take appropriate countermeasures".

He underlined that the IRGC "is responsible for protecting the national security and borders of the country, as well as helping to maintain security and stability in the region by dealing with the sinister phenomenon of terrorism".

On May 8, Canadian MPs voted unanimously in support of the motion following a justice committee report that called on the government to classify the IRGC as a "terrorist" entity. The vote does not create a binding obligation on the government. The Liberals also voted in favor of a similar motion in 2018.

The United States has already placed both the IRGC and its Quds Force, which is primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and covert operations, on its list of "foreign terrorist organizations". In a resolution adopted on April 25, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called for further sanctions against Iran, including designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

Canadian opposition parties amplified their demands to add the IRGC to the terrorist entity list after Iran launched an airstrike on Israel in mid-April. An Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1 killed seven IRGC members, including two senior commanders, and triggered a retaliatory drone and missile attack response by Iran on April 13-14. Canada, the UK and the US imposed coordinated sanctions on Iran on April 25, following Tehran's retaliation against Israel.

Families of the Canadian victims of Flight PS752 have been calling on the government to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization for years. PS752 was shot down by the IRGC shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. During a PS752 commemoration ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is looking "for ways to responsibly list the IRGC as a terrorist organization."

Those on the sanctions list are barred from entering Canada and prohibited from doing any business with Canadians. In the past, the Canadian government has argued that such a listing would be a blunt-force approach that could affect low-level people who were forced to serve in the paramilitary force. According to the CIA, conscripts make up more than 50 percent of the IRGC.

Iran and Canada do not have diplomatic relations after Ottawa severed ties in 2012, accusing Tehran of human rights violations on multiple occasions.

In March 2024, Canada announced sanctions against Masoud Dorosti, the Tehran metro executive, for enforcement of the mandatory hijab law on public transport. Another sanction was imposed on Zohreh Elahian, a conservative MP, who supported the death penalty for protestors during the nationwide 2022 unrest.

Last December, Canada imposed sanctions against two Iranian officials – Saeed Mortazavi and Mohammad Bakhshi – who were reportedly involved in the death of Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi. Kazemi was arrested in Tehran in June 2003 for taking pictures of family members of students arrested and detained in Evin prison. Shortly after her arrest, she reportedly died in prison.

Earlier, the Canadian authorities sanctioned a number of Iranian officials and entities, including the IRGC-affiliated Fars and Tasnim news agencies in October 2022, following Tehran's brutal crackdown on protests that sparked after Mahsa Amini died in police custody in mid-September of that year.

Iranian officials have retaliated by accusing Canada of such violations several times, including condemning Canada over mass graves of indigenous children discovered in Canada in 2021. In November 2022, Iran’s Foreign Ministry published the names of some Canadian officials and the National Post newspaper over allegedly “supporting terrorism and terrorist hypocrites group”.