The federal government has not committed to expelling Iranian officials linked to harassing ex-patriots who have moved to Australia, despite the ongoing security threat.
Terrified Iranian-Australians have ‘taken great personal risks’ to share experiences of being threatened and intimidated on home soil for criticising the authoritarian Islamist regime in Tehran.
The government has accepted two recommendations of a Senate inquiry into human rights implications of violence in Iran: ensuring an appropriate level of expertise and resources to assess threats against Australians, and deterring hostage diplomacy situations.
Liberal Senator Claire Chandler said she is constantly asked by the Iranian diaspora why the government appears to be dragging its feet. (Pictured: protesters in Sydney on January 8)
‘Australia stands resolutely against the practice of arbitrary detention, arrest and sentencing wherever it may occur, including in Iran,’ a government statement read.
‘Travel advice for Iran advises Australians not to travel to Iran and highlights the increased risk of arbitrary detention or arrest.’
Seven of the Senate inquiry recommendations have been noted, while two were rejected.
Inquiry chairman and shadow assistant foreign minister Claire Chandler said: ‘Incredibly, among the recommendations not accepted by the Albanese government include that any Iranian officials in Australia considered to be involved in intimidation, threats or monitoring of Australians be expelled.
‘This comes despite the government acknowledging that Australians are being threatened and harassed on Australian soil.’
Iranian-Australians are voicing their disappointment with the government response too. The feeling amongst some activists is that their focus must stay on upcoming protests decrying the violence in Iran, before circling back to the government’s announcement next week.
Daily Mail Australia previously spoke with Tina Kordrostrami, who shared her harrowing experience of being followed through the streets of Sydney and threatened by a man she believes worked for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Others, fearful of backlash, shared their experiences anonymously. Senator Chandler and her inquiry also spoke to hundreds of terrified Iranian-Australians.
Tina Kordrostami was stalked, attacked and followed through the streets by a heavily tattooed man she believes was an agent for the Islamic Republic regime in Iran
Foreign Minister Penny Wong issued sanctions on Wednesday against four individuals and three entities which have undeniable ties to the oppression of women and girls in Iran.
The sanctions extend to Press TV, a state-backed channel which has ‘broadcast the forced confessions of Iranians and dual-nationals who are detained’.
Iran’s cyber police are also facing sanctions due to ‘restricting internet activity in Iran’.
Among the four sanctioned individuals is Saeed Montazer Al-Mahdi, the spokesman for Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces.
Mr Al-Mahdi recently announced the return of the morality police’s hijab patrols in Iran.
Minister Wong said he has ‘repeatedly made intimidating and threatening statements towards Iranian women and girls for purportedly violating Iran’s mandatory veiling laws’.
In announcing these sanctions in the Senate, Ms Wong revealed she’d met with Iranian-Australians who shared their own experiences of terror with the IRGC.
‘Their stories are hard to hear for anyone with compassion,’ she said.
Female demonstrators were removing their hijabs and cutting their hair on the streets in Ms Amini’s honour. (Protesters are seen in Rome coming out in support of the Iranian community)
Labor flatly ruled out declaring the IRGC a terrorist organisation, despite it being recommended in the Senate report and called for among the local Iranian community.
The government argues the IRGC is ‘not the kind of entity that is covered by the terrorist organisations provision in the Criminal Code’ because it is an ‘organ of a nation state’.
As a result, the government determined it is not possible to declare it a terror organisation, and has instead ‘focused on taking meaningful steps to pressure’ the group.
Senator Chandler expressed disappointment in the government’s handling of the crisis.
She said: ‘While we appreciate the additional sanctions announced by the Government today, they do not go far enough with the Foreign Minister acknowledging that ‘women and girls in Iran still face systemic persecution’.
‘Many Iranian-Australians have taken great personal risk to speak out, protest and urge the Government to take stronger action. Iranian-Australian community groups have written to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on multiple occasions throughout the year.’
Ms Chandler, in a joint statement with Senator Simon Birmingham, said the outcome would be ‘devastating for many in the Iranian-Australian community who have worked so hard to try and get this Albanese Labor Government to take stronger action and hold the regime to account’.
‘This response comes not only during the week of the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death, but at a time when the IRI regime is growing its influence in the region, exporting terror around the world, and gaining leverage and financial benefit from its appalling tactics.’
Ms Wong said the government wholeheartedly supported the ‘overarching principle’ of Ms Chandler’s inquiry findings, which is that it is imperitave to hold the Iranian regime to account for human rights abuses.
Both Ms Kordrostami and Senator Chandler say Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been briefed on the matter, and still their concerns are being overlooked. (Pictured: activists protest against Iran’s ‘morality police’ in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 7, 2022)
But the government did not accept findings that Australia was ‘lagging’ behind other nations in responding to these abuses.
She said: ‘The Australian government has been consistent, proactive and assertive in holding the Iranian regime to account for its gross violations of human rights.
‘The Australian government has taken steps to limit Australia’s engagement with Iran where it is in our interests to do so.’
She referred to advice she gave to state and territory governments, as well as Australia’s peak bodies and universities, in April 2023 which urged them to ‘put on hold any existing cooperation with Iranian entities, and avoid engaging in new initiatives’.
‘The Albanese Government has taken stronger action against Iran on human rights than any previous Australian government,’ she said.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, died last year while in the custody of Iran’s ‘morality police’ – who are responsible for enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code
In addition to the recommendation to declare the IRGC a terrorist organisation, the government did not accept a recommendation for ‘all reports of threats, intimidation, monitoring or surveillance by the Iranian community in Australia are followed up, recorded [and] assessed’.
The government said: ‘ASIO and AFP staff operate under their own legislative powers and mechanisms for reporting outcomes to Government. All reports of foreign interference and espionage are currently considered, triaged and assessed for investigation.
‘Threats to public safety, threatening of family members, forced repatriations and other serious threats of harm are considered a high priority for response.’
The government has taken on notice requests to oppose the election of the Islamic Republic of Iran to any United Nations bodies, as well as calls to ‘increase transparency and better inform the public’ regarding the status of Australia’s diplomatic relations with Iran.