Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Green for her interest in this matter and for her solidarity with the women and men of Iran who have been standing against the repressive and violent actions of the regime. I acknowledge that that is a position shared by, I hope, all in this chamber—certainly, many across the chamber have also been raising their voices.
I know that people would have been following events in Iran closely, and I think all of us would have been moved by the image overnight of the Iranian football team standing silent during their Iranian regime's anthem. This was a courageous act. By refusing to sing the anthem, they are actually joining a chorus in Iran and around the world that has grown steadily louder over the last two months. While the Iranian soccer team staged their protest, protests within Iran continued—especially in majority Kurdish areas. And so did the regime's brutal response. That response included attacking protesters, using machine guns mounted on vehicles and even using drone missiles. The death toll now runs well into the hundreds.
We all know that this started on 16 September with the death of Mahsa Amini, whose Kurdish name was Jina. Her unexplained death in the custody of the so-called morality police was a spark that lit a flame of protest that has spread across Iran and to the streets of cities around the world, including Australia. Protest activity has taken many forms—street demonstrations and women and girls removing their hijabs, with others also cutting off their hair. In solidarity with protesters, Iranian shopkeepers, factory workers and employees in the oil and petrochemical sectors have participated in strikes. We saw Iranian archer Parmida Ghasemi remove her hijab in a sign of solidarity during an awards ceremony in Tehran. (Time expired)
With new reports of violence and retaliation against those expressing their right to protest, this morning the Australian government again called in the Iran charge d'affaires. I welcome the opposition's meeting with the charge a few weeks ago.
It is important that Australia speaks with one voice in conveying the abhorrence of these events. As Iranian authorities have brutally cracked down on protesters, this country has joined in the international condemnation. We have made a number of international interventions, including supporting the convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran, which will take place this week. We've provided early co-sponsorship of a resolution calling for a fact-finding mission, and we will advocate intensively to build support for it.
Just as the Iranian representative was left in no doubt, the Senate should be clear of this government's resolve to continue working with others to build pressure on the regime to cease its brutal campaign against its own citizens.
I certainly am, and I have no doubt that all senators would be, deeply concerned with the reports of Australians, here in Australia, being harassed for their participation in protests and the reported threats made against their families in Iran.
Of course, the right to peaceful protest is at the heart of Australia's democracy. Our concerns were relayed in no uncertain terms to the Iranian charge d'affaires this morning, and the Department of Home Affairs Counter Foreign Interference Coordination Centre is working with the community to conduct targeted engagement on foreign interference.
My message to anyone involved in such activities is this: Australia's laws on foreign interference are unequivocal. Allegations of foreign interference are investigated, and we will prosecute if appropriate. We will defend our democracy and people's right to protest and express their views within Australia just as we stand up for the rights of those to do so elsewhere. (Time expired)