As Iran faces scrutiny for its alleged role in the Hamas-Israel war, a UN expert has urged countries, including Australia, to consider listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

During a trip to Australia, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, told SBS Persian that he “does not see any issue” with recognising IRGC as a terrorist organisation if governments are convinced by his reports.

“The evidence that I have seen shows the role of IRGC in the killing of protesters [in Iran], their activities outside of Iran, such as supporting Hamas or Hezbollah, and widespread corruption and human rights abuses,” Mr Rehman said.

“I think it’s important for the governments of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and all of the world’s governments to look into the role of the IRGC.”

‘I’m not willing to take any threats upon my mandate’
In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council re-established the mandate under the title Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

While Mr Rehman has held this position since 2018, the Iranian government has not allowed him access to the country during this time.

“It’s not that I’m concerned about my security. It is that the Iranian government does not allow me access. It isn’t just me personally, but my predecessors. Since the mandate was renewed in 2011, none of my predecessors have been allowed to visit the country,” he said.

“I’m here to conduct my role as the UN-appointed special rapporteur. And I think that the Iranian authorities must respect me. They have to engage with me fully. I’m not willing to take any form of threat, direct or indirect, upon my mandate because it is a UN mandate they are dealing with.”

Mr Rehman was invited by the Australian Labor government to meet officials and individuals affected by human rights violations in Iran.
‘Australia has been very vocal in criticising human rights violations’
He said the Australian government has been outspoken in criticising human rights violations in Iran, particularly following the death of Mahsa Jina Amini in police custody in September 2022
, which sparked protests across the country.

According to Human Rights Activists News Agency, at least 517 protesters have been killed in the unrest, and several thousand people have been arrested.

“The Australian government has been very vocal in criticising human rights violations [in Iran]. It has supported the various institutions and mechanisms in the United Nations, including my mandate,” Mr Rehman said.

“They have also engaged with other UN member states and members of the Human Rights Council in establishing the UN fact-finding mission, established last year in November. There are various strategies whereby the Australian government supports the people of Iran.”
Calls for formal investigation of individuals in Australia
In his report
published in February, Mr Rehman recommended the international community “impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure that measures such as humanitarian exemptions are given broad and practical effect”.

“I make recommendations based on my own assessment. Regarding targeted sanctions, I’ve emphasised that sanctions should be placed on human rights violators. And I also say that these sanctions should be more coherent and organised, as inconsistent sanctions would not have any impact,” he said.

Since the uprising in Iran, the Australian government has implemented five rounds of sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

However, Mr Rehman said more action could be taken.

“In the case of Australia, there are individuals whose assets may have been accumulated through violence or human rights abuses in Iran. Australian officials must view these individuals as people suspected of committing criminal activity under international and human rights law.

I would want formal and proper investigations of these individuals. If these people have committed gross human rights violations under international law, they should be charged, indicted and convicted.
Javaid Rehman

Tina Kordrostami, an Iranian-Australian human rights activist and Greens political candidate, was one of the community members who met with the special rapporteur.

She discussed the lack of support in her meeting with Mr Rehman.

“The Iranian-Australian community hasn’t received any mental health support or financial aid from the Australian government. These types of support can potentially positively impact the movement’s overall potential,” she told SBS Persian.

“We have made these requests of the government time and time again, yet we haven’t heard much. In response, we have been told that a few sanctions have been placed, although they are not completely solid, as there are ways around them.”
The case of IRGC
Ms Kordrostami is among those demanding Australia list Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organisation.

“Especially in light of recent events and the situation between Palestine and Israel, we are slowly starting to see the real hands of the IRGC. These are all reasons why the Australian government needs to recognise the group as a terrorist entity.

One day after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, Wall Street Journal claimed that the IRGC helped Hamas “plot attack on Israel over several weeks”.

This was denied by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani, who said the accusations “are based on political motives” and that the “Islamic Republic does not intervene in the decision-making of other countries, including Palestine”.

In Australia, a Senate inquiry report published in February also recommended the Labor government to blacklist the IRGC.

However, in June, a spokesperson from the Attorney General’s Department told SBS Persian
that they “have advised through a submission to the Senate that, as an organ of a nation-state, it is the department’s view that the IRGC is not the kind of entity that is covered by the terrorist organisation provisions in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Criminal Code).”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong told SBS News that she does not believe listing IRGC as a terrorist organisation “is the most strategic approach”.

“The government will take an approach to continue to utilise our sanctions framework and multilateral forums to ensure that pressure is put on Iran,” she said.

Since September 2022, the government has sanctioned 37 IRGC-linked officials and 44 IRGC-linked entities.

Mr Rehman said that, in this regard, “an important decision has to be made”.

“IRGC is responsible for serious violations of human rights. If these organisations are involved in terrorist activities, then for the sake of clarity and transparency, these organisations must be declared.”

“If individual governments are convinced by my, UN’s, and international organisations’ reports, they must act,” he said.
‘In Australia, I feel a particular threat’
After his meetings with community members, Mr Rehman said he believes there are more threats against Iranians on Australian soil compared to other missions he has conducted.

In February, Home Affairs Minister Claire O’Neil revealed ASIO had disrupted an Iranian government operation on Australian soil targeting an Australian-Iranian critic of the regime.

It was also reported
that the number of Iranian nationals holding diplomatic visas in Australia increased from 31 to 34 around the time security agencies reported the plot targeting Iranian-Australian citizens onshore.

“There is a consistent threat posed by the Iranian regime or the agents of the Iranian regime. In Australia, I feel a particular threat,” Mr Rehman said.

Many individuals have come up to me and said that several people have threatened them directly or indirectly. They could be members of the regime or their sympathisers. There is a greater preponderance of threats, which people have reported to me during my visit here.
Javaid Rehman

Ms Kordrostami also reported these threats in her meeting with the special rapporteur.

“At first, it was online threats through our social media accounts. Our laptops and our phones have been hacked on multiple occasions. After a while, this turned into in-person threats,” she said.

“I was followed and threatened, and because of all this, I have had to be in touch with Australian National Security.”

Source » sbs