Canada bars entry to Iranian IRGC members in new sanctions push

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced plans to bar about 10,000 IRGC members and officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from entering Canada, as international pressure on Tehran builds amid ongoing anti-government protests.

During a news conference on Friday, Trudeau said the top 50 percent of the IRGC’s leadership would get lifetime entry bans under new penalties imposed through Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian military that ultimately answers to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It is responsible for the Iranian government’s covert foreign operations and military support for regional allies.

Trudeau also said his government would invest $55m (76 million Canadian dollars) to enforce its sanctions regime, while expanding its capacity to prevent individuals and groups affiliated with Iranian state authorities from laundering money in Canada, among other curbs.

Iran has faced growing international condemnation following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iranian police custody. The 22-year-old died after she was detained last month in Tehran by the country’s so-called “morality police” for her attire.

Dozens of people have been killed in the ensuing demonstrations, while many others have been arrested.

Canada’s Iranian sanctions push came amid frayed relations between the two countries, which worsened in the aftermath of the downing of a Ukrainian International Airlines plane over Tehran in early 2020.

The IRGC said it shot down Flight PS752 by accident after mistaking it for a missile at a moment of heightened tensions over the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US strike in Baghdad, Iraq.

The incident – which killed all 176 passengers and crew on board, dozens of whom had connections to Canada – spurred global anger and the Trudeau government has led international efforts to seek accountability.

Iranian-Canadian lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz said Friday’s announcement was “underwhelming.”

“Making 10,000 members of the IRGC inadmissible to Canada is good, but it doesn’t go far enough and I don’t think it recognizes the sheer monstrosity of this organization,” Shahrooz said.

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