'Freedom for Iran': Protest draws crowd outside Parliament

Source: 1News

A crowd outside the Beehive today protested against the regime in Iran, continuing recent calls around the world for change there.

A number of MPs from different parties went onto Parliament's forecourt to watch the protest including Labour's Ibrahim Omer, a former refugee and the Green Party's Golriz Ghahraman, who was born in Iran.

Chants of "freedom for Iran", "democracy for Iran" and the name Mahsa Amini rung out.

Protests began in Iran and across the world when Amini died in the custody of the Middle Eastern country's morality police in September.

One speaker at today's protest said she had travelled to Wellington from Auckland.

"We're going to keep pushing because we do not have the luxury of giving up," she told the crowd through a megaphone.

Asked about the protest, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said: "The Government has reflected its concern about the repressive nature of human rights, and especially against women and girls, the right to protest, freedom of speech in Iran."

The protesters could be heard calling for the Iranian regime to be labelled a terrorist entity.

Mahuta said: "There's a set of considerations that have to be worked through if that were to take place and some of it may have legal and diplomatic implications. So it's not something I would immediately respond to without full consideration."

According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, at least 419 people have died in the violent crackdown on protesters there.

'Shocked, saddened and appalled'

ACT's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden, who was among MPs attending the protest, said in a statement that "New Zealanders have been shocked, saddened and appalled by the events taking place in Iran".

"The ACT Party is proud to join our Parliamentary colleagues from the Green Party, National, and Te Pati Maori in calling for more action from the Government on the atrocities occurring in Iran," she said.

"Today, we have signed a cross-party letter seeking the Government's support to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror entity."

National's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said the IRGC is "responsible for the dreadful atrocities currently being committed, particularly against women in Iran who are simply asking for the sort of freedom that we take for granted every day here in New Zealand".

And Ghahraman, who is the Green Party's Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said: "Given the central role the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps plays in suppressing protests, orchestrating international terror and supplying drones to the Russian army, it is time that the New Zealand Government acts decisively to call this group terrorists.

"The United States, Canada, and United Kingdom have already designated the IRGC as a terrorist group ... Valid concern remains that New Zealand is now an outlier and may become a sanctuary for IRGC funds or activity."

The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces that answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.