JEWISH leaders have welcomed the federal government’s new sanctions against Iran, but have called for more comprehensive measures.
Canberra announced the sanctions on the first anniversary of the incarceration that led to the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini.
Australia last year adopted US Magnitsky-style sanctions which enable it to sanction individuals and corporations, not just governments and public entities. It has now imposed financial curbs and travel bans on four individuals and three entities responsible for oppressing Iranians.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong said sanctioned individuals include police spokesperson for Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces Saeed Montazer Al-Mahdi who has repeatedly made intimidating statements towards Iranian females for purportedly violating veiling laws.
Targeted entities include Iran’s Cyber Police, which restricts online activity in Iran, and the state-backed Press TV, which has broadcast forced confessions.
Wong said, “The Australian government will continue to take decisive and targeted action to hold Iran to account for its egregious human-rights violations. Australia stands in solidarity with the people of Iran, especially the courageous women and girls who continue to demonstrate immense bravery in the face of ongoing repression.”
However, the sanctions fall well short of 12 recommendations made by a Senate inquiry on human rights in Iran. Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Iranian-Australians “will be devastated at the government’s refusal to accept or implement the majority of the 12 recommendations”, which included expelling Iranian officials in Australia considered to be involved in intimidation, threats or monitoring and harassing Australians on home soil.
While commending “another step in the right direction”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said, “We encourage the government to go further and reconsider its response to the 12 recommendations concerning Iran made by the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee in February. The committee urged the government to be unequivocal in its response to violence and human-rights abuses in Iran, and noted that Australia has lagged behind many of our partner Western democracies in taking action to send a clear message to the Iranian regime that what they are doing is grossly unacceptable.”
Most importantly, the government must implement the committee’s recommendation to categorise Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as – in the committee’s words – “an organisation involved in supporting and facilitating terrorism”, he said.
Zionist Federation of Australia director of public affairs Bren Carlill said while the sanctions are “a positive first step”, tougher action is needed.
“Proscribing the IRGC would do more than merely indicate our displeasure; it would make a difference,” he said.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein urged more comprehensive sanctions.
“While this modest step against domestic human-rights abusers in Iran is very welcome, AIJAC urges the government to coordinate more with our allies and partners in terms of both the timing of sanctions announcements as well as the targets. This should include a heavier focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran’s material support for Russia’s war against Ukraine, and also support for terrorism, hostage-taking, piracy and the proliferation of missiles and other weapons to its regional proxies.”