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Iranian-Canadians say threats made to families living in Iran ended 2022, 2023 protests


Waves of protests that took to the streets last year in Canadian communities, including Halifax, in solidarity of Mahsa Amini came to an abrupt end after Iranian-Canadians say their families living in Iran were threatened.

From October 2022 to February 2023, hundreds of Iranian-Canadians in Halifax organized protests after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died after being detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her mandatory headscarf too loosely.

Amini fell into a coma after she was detained and died in hospital on Sept 16, 2022. Global protests followed.

A woman who attended the protest in Halifax says speaking out is dangerous and the consequences of showing her face and sharing her name have left her too afraid to reveal her identity.

“It’s not safe even here to go out,” she said.

She actively joined the protests in Halifax when they began in October 2022. After months of continued protests, last year someone showed up to her parents’ home in Iran a number of times, telling them to stop the woman from attending these protests.

“There was this man that asked [that] you have to stop your daughter. She does this, she does that and she goes to protest. They knew everything,” said the woman.

From who she communicates with to where she lives, she believes they know it all and she is not alone.

The Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia told CTV News Atlantic at least six people attending the protests — that they know of — had Iranian officials approach their families living in that country. They believe more have been threatened but would be too afraid to share this.

“In Canada and other countries, the regime agents are monitoring us, they’re recording us [and] they’re sending back information to Iran and families are being threatened there,” said activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay.

The woman said because officials know her, she will not be able to visit her sister and her kids because she cannot trust the government.

“I don’t know what they will do. We know people [that] have gone back and they are kidnapped or imprisoned and I have kids. I can’t risk that.

She said the government also knew each time she would call her parents. However, her parents did not expect her to stop attending protests.

“There were kids protesting on the streets of Iran. They know I am safe. They also know me and have taught me to do what’s right no matter what,” she said.

Last year it was reported nearly 800 people living in Canada are linked to the Iranian regime.

The Canadian Cyber Security Tool even detected deaths threats to people living in Canada from Iran.

Afshin-Jam Mackay believes Canada needs to acknowledge the threats that exist.

“For years these threats have existed towards Iranians in Canada. Right now there is a foreign interference inquiry happening but on the list they’ve only included Russia, China and India. They haven’t listed Iran officially and they need to. The government of Canada needs to list the IRGC as a terrorist group,” she said.

She said she also does not believe this is the end of the protests.

“This is a fight and it remains within us. We want to see change. We are going to see protests again,” she said.

Growing fear and concern among Iranian-Canadians lives on, along with their desire to see the end of the Iranian regime.

“All of us we risked everything because we [were] kind of hoping this time will be different,” said the woman keeping her identity anonymous.

She, along with other Iranian-Canadians, look ahead to one day fearlessly raising their voice in protest once again.

CTV News Atlantic reached out to the federal government but didn’t hear back in time for deadline. Top Stories

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