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Iran Condemns Canada’s Move to Designate IRGC as “Terrorist” Entity

By Nigar Bayramli June 21, 2024

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Canada listed the IRGC as a terrorist organization on June 19, 2024, after years of pressure from opposition legislators and some members of the Iranian diaspora. / Immigration.ca

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani has "strongly condemned" Canada's decision to label the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

“This irresponsible and provocative move is a continuation of the wrong path that the Canadian government has taken over the past decade under the influence of warmongers, real violators of human rights, and the main perpetrators of terrorism,” Kanani said in a statement on June 20, according to Foreign Ministry website.

He described the move as "political, unconventional, and unwise", criticised it as a "hostile act" that contradicts international law principles and called it an "infringement on Iran's national sovereignty".

In addition, Iran's Acting Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri Kani wrote on the X platform (formerly Twitter) that "the Canadian government will be held accountable for the consequences of the provocative and irresponsible decision".

The Iranian Judiciary Chief's Deputy for International Affairs and Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights, Kazem Gharibabadi, also condemned the decision, saying that a "country that is one of the major violators of human rights and one of the supporters of terrorism" had designated an organization "responsible for protecting national security and countering terrorism in the region".

On June 19, Canada listed the IRGC as a terrorist organization, after years of pressure from opposition legislators and some members of the Iranian diaspora. The move means that thousands of senior Iranian government officials, including top IRGC personnel, will be barred from entering Canada.

Announcing the decision, Canadian Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc called it a “significant tool in fighting global terrorism”. Flanked by Canada's foreign and justice ministers, he accused the Iranian regime’s "support for terrorism" and "having consistently displayed disregard for human rights both inside and outside of Iran, as well as a willingness to destabilize the international rules-based order."

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that Ottawa broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran several years ago, urged Canadians against travel to Iran. "For those who are in Iran right now. It's time to come back home," she added.

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

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. Canada, the UK and the US imposed coordinated sanctions on Iran on April 25, following Tehran's stance against Israel.

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.

In December 2023, 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.

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

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."

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.