Protests in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver over Iran elections
In the wake of Iran's 12th presidential election on May 19, 2017, there were protests in Iran. But they went much farther than just the home country. Canadians held simultaneous protests in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver to denounce the sham election and the mullahs' ongoing violations of human rights in Iran.
The protests occurred in Ottawa outside parliament, in Toronto in Mel Lastman Square, in Montreal at the city center, and in Vancouver in front of the Art Gallery at the city center. Demonstrators held banners reading "Stop Executions in Iran," "No to Sham Election," "No to Rouhani, imposter," "No to Raisi, mass killer of 1988," "Our vote is regime change," "Free all political prisoners," and "This is a selection, not an election."
One graduate student who helped organize the demonstration said: "The Iranian political system is not democratic, and today's election was neither free nor fair." In Iran, the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, stands at the apex of Iran's complex political dictatorship. He is the most powerful of Iran's four major governing bodies, the supreme leader and the Council of Guardians, are not elected by the general population, and power of the president is secondary to the supreme leader, who is an unelected head of state.
The speakers led continuous chants, denouncing the fraudulent election. The protesters said they had various reasons why this protest is important. A fourth-year student at the York University of Toronto said there are a lot of issues in Iran, including its deteriorated economy, its state-sponsored terrorism, its human rights violations, and women's rights. He noted that the presidential race was between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, seeking a second term in office, with 3,000 executions during his tenure, and Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate closest to the supreme leader, who was part of a tribunal that oversaw the execution of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Raisi was also the preferred candidate of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In Toronto, the demonstration was held in Mel Lastman Square, where protesters were holding placards condemning the sham election. This demonstration received wide media and social attention. During the demonstrations, CTV, a Canadian broadcaster, interviewed one of the organizers. "Today, our simultaneous protests in Canada over Iran's elections is in solidarity with the Iranian people," she said. "The people of Iran deserve a democratic change. They rejected 38 years of this tyrannical rule."
National CBC Television had a live interview with Mrs. Shahnaz Fallah from the International Coalition of Women against Fundamentalism (ICWAF) regarding Iran's election, too.
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and social media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region. He tweets at @hassan_mahmou1.