(Montreal) Montrealers are at the origin of an international group of 131 investors who are calling on the business community, and more particularly companies in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, to assume their responsibility respect for human rights in their relations with Iran, still plagued by a wave of protest after the tragic death of Mahsa Amini.

Mahsa Amini is the 22-year-old Iranian student who died last September in unclear circumstances, three days after being arrested by the Iranian morality police, who considered that her dress was not modest enough. Ms. Amini’s death caused outcry in Iran and waves of massive protests created a movement across the country to demand change in the current political regime.

In a statement, the group of investors, who manage more than US$352 billion in assets worldwide, urges its peers and business partners to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which state that all companies have a responsibility “to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and to rectify such impacts when they occur”.

“ For us, this is a lever to invite greater diligence, so that investors can ensure that the companies they support are not complicit in what is happening in Iran ”, specifies Sherazad Adib, Montrealer from Iranian origin who, with François Meloche, is at the origin of the regrouping.

Currently, the Iranian government restricts internet access to its citizens, violates their privacy by spying on their electronic devices, hacks into dissident websites, and uses facial recognition and other artificial intelligence tools to track and identify his opponents.

“ It is a barbaric government that uses modern technologies to carry out its repression ”, underlines Ms. Adib.

In this sense, the ICT sector can play a crucial role in the protests against the Iranian regime because it provides products and services essential to freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of association, and therefore to the promotion of human rights, believes Mr. Meloche.

The partner and director of engagement at Aequo does not hesitate to use the term “digital authoritarianism” to describe Iran’s attitude towards its citizens whose fundamental rights are violated.

“ This approach is part of the responsible investment movement, where we realize that by being a shareholder in companies or a lender, this implies responsibilities towards society ”, he notes.

The declaration will be posted online on Thursday and can be signed by both investors and citizens who support the cause.


This dispatch was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta Exchange and La Presse Canadienne for the news.