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Tuesday, 7 February 2023
Page: 52

Senator BARBARA POCOCK (South Australia) (13:34): Today I rise to speak in solidarity with the brave people of Iran, whose lives are on the line as they fight for their human rights. I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Amini after she was arrested by and died, it seems, at the hands of the Iranian so-called morality police. I'm deeply concerned about Iran's execution of civilians who have joined protests in response to Jina Amini's death. Every day, we wake to news of more Iranian protesters sentenced to death, and this must end.

In January I was approached by the Iranian community in South Australia, concerned for two young men: Arshia Takdastan, only 18, and Javad Rouhi, 35. In response, I wrote to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to declare my political sponsorship of Arshia and Javad. Arshia was arrested for allegedly throwing a bottle at a police kiosk and lending someone a cigarette lighter. Javad's crime was dancing in the street. Javad has a mental illness, and his family have questioned whether he was even aware a protest was taking place. Both men were imprisoned and tortured by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and sentenced to death on confessions exacted under torture. Javad's torture was particularly severe, causing him to suffer paralysis. For a time, he lost the ability to speak. At one point his interrogation had to be paused so that a doctor could determine if he was still alive.

Through political sponsorship, we share these prisoners' names and stories. We say their names. We voice our concern for their physical and mental health. We monitor and condemn the cruelty and injustice of their persecution and that of so many other Iranians. I was pleased to see the government's decision last week to expand sanctions against the Islamic republic. However, I stand with the Iranian community when I say that more action is needed. It's time for the government to listen to the Iranian community and do more to end this appalling violence.