Canada’s foreign minister says democracies have ‘moral obligation’ to help



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Canada’s foreign minister said democracies have a “moral obligation” to help the “incredibly brave” women who took to the streets to protest when she met with other female foreign ministers to denounce the ongoing violence that has plagued the country for weeks.

“As women foreign ministers, we have a responsibility to help raise the voices of women in Iran,” Mélanie Joly told a meeting of 14 female colleagues, according to a reading of the event provided to the Guardian. As women leaders from around the world, we can make a strong statement of support for women’s rights in Iran and by extension women’s rights everywhere.”

“Young women, in particular, are challenging Iran’s oppression and structural gender inequality. They do this at great risk. Iranian women speak clearly,” she said. “They will no longer tolerate the regime’s vision of women’s role in society or how women should dress and act.”

Related: Student protester shot at close range in Iran dies

Canada hosted the meeting to show its solidarity with the Iranian women who are fighting within the country to get rid of the mandatory hijab and demand the change of the Iranian regime. The death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the morality police for “inappropriate” use of the headscarf, sparked protests.

Canada, which has a large Iranian diaspora, has sanctioned former foreign minister Javad Zarif and all major Iranian government bodies, as well as prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, who ordered the torture of Iranian Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi, who died in custody in 2003.

Joly said his government will continue to impose new sanctions on individuals and organizations that participate in or allow human rights violations.

“We will not be idle,” he said.

The meeting also heard from Nobel laureate lawyer and Nobel laureate Shirnin Ebadi, Conscordia professor Homa Hoodfar, who was once imprisoned in Iran’s Evin prison, and Asa Regner, UN deputy secretary general.

Ebadi said this week: “For 43 years, people have suppressed all this anger. For 43 years, the regime has been ignoring the demands of the people, whoever says anything against the regime is either imprisoned, killed or left the country.”

Amini, who came from the Kurdistan region of Iran, died on September 16 after being detained by the morality police three days ago in Tehran for her “inappropriate dress”.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and 14 foreign ministers from countries as far apart as Iceland, Libya, Chile and Norway were represented at the virtual meeting. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was visiting the United States and was going to send an official.

One of the calls is for Iran to be removed from the UN women’s committee.

Joly and Baerbock were two foreign ministers trying to establish a feminist foreign policy. The move took a hit this week when the new Swedish coalition government announced it was giving up support for the policy closely associated with the now-deposed social democratic foreign minister, Ann Linde.

Joly was speaking on the day that both the EU and the UK imposed further sanctions on a group of Iranian military that are said to have been instrumental in providing drones for Russia to use in Ukraine.

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