House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

Iran
Government Orders

10:15 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Chair, I want to speak to the issue that the member just brought up about Rights and Democracy.

I am on the foreign affairs committee. The Rights and Democracy issue came in front of the foreign affairs committee. We looked at and saw how dysfunctional it had become.

What the member should understand is that he is talking about an issue where he is on the other side. The foreign affairs committee prior to this one did a study on the promotion of democracy around the world. In that report, which was unanimously adopted by everyone at foreign affairs, we stated that all the expertise of this thing needs to be combined into one situation where we can pool all the resources and promote the same objectives.

I do not understand why the member could not understand that the same objective he is talking about, the promotion of democracy and human rights, can be done collectively where the expertise is sitting: in the department of foreign affairs.

That is the decision that was made by the foreign affairs committee, that was the decision when Rights and Democracy came in front of this thing and that is why this committee took this action. That is why we felt there was a need at this time for a change with Rights and Democracy. That is what the member needs to understand.

The issue remains the same. No matter what, we will be fighting for human rights around the world.

Iran
Government Orders

10:15 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Chair, I do not think that was a question; it was a comment.

I think one of the things that we seem to forget a lot of times when we are debating human rights around the world is the fact that—yes, I agree—we need to work collectively, and I did mention that in my text. I gave the example of the work that we did for more than 23 years at the UN in drafting and negotiating the text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That was a collective effort by many people.

The government across the way came to power in 2006, and it decided to obstruct the process at the UN. It was unfortunate that the government did that when it arrived for the first time in 2006.

A lot of collective effort is required in fighting against human rights violations around the world. That is what this party is going to do come 2015.

Iran
Government Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, this truly is a sad kind of debate to have, and it gets particularly sad the more partisan we become. I think every member in this House needs to remember that there are Canadians of Iranian descent and otherwise whose loved ones and friends remain in Iran and are suffering. Their grief for those loved ones and friends cannot be underestimated, nor should it be turned for any particular partisan purpose. Members of Parliament should stand together as one to represent our constituents and Canadians who suffer as a result of these conditions.

Hon. members have heard often about the egregious state of human rights in Iran and efforts on the part of Iranian authorities to oppress the Iranian people at every turn. I would like to draw the attention of the House tonight to the monumental failure of Iran's judicial system: the intimidation and imprisonment of lawyers, the rampant abuse of due process rights and the frequent imposition of the death penalty, even on minors and sometimes for crimes as vaguely described as “enmity against God”.

It is worth highlighting that Iran's constitution provides for the judiciary to be an independent power. In practice, however, the court system is subject to ideological influence, corruption and continued subordination to political leaders and security agencies.

The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to administer harsh treatment to the Iranian people itself without proper due process. This long-established trend has become even more entrenched since the 2009 presidential elections, which were accompanied by a surge in popular dissent.

More than ever, Iran is transforming all institutions, including the judiciary, into tools for political persecution and abuse of human rights. The most basic expression of a citizen's rights, the right to a lawyer, the Iranian regime sees as potentially threatening to the Islamic Republic, despite the fact that its laws guarantee representation by legal counsel. The recent sentencing of Iranian lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah to nine years in prison is a good example of a case in which both lawyers and defendants are punished. Mr. Dadkhah is believed to have been targeted because of his efforts to defend political and human rights activists in Iran, including pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for apostasy.

Due process rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, are routinely and grossly violated, reducing the likelihood of fair trials. Despite their codfication in the Iranian constitution, a defendant's right to a public trial, to a presumption of innocence and to an appeal have not been respected.

Judges can choose to exclude defence lawyers from court proceedings or even to imprison them, as I previously mentioned. Defendants can be found guilty on the basis of “the knowledge of the judge”, a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their own subjective and arbitrary determination as to whether or not an accused person is guilty, even in the absence of any conclusive evidence. It is unbelievable from a Canadian perspective.

Arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders, opposition members and ordinary Iranians is commonplace. Reformers, opposition activists who are mere demonstrators, have been targeted since 2009 and even more so in the wake of the Arab Spring. Ridiculous crimes such as enmity against god, anti-revolutionary behaviour, moral corruption and even siding with global arrogance are met with absolutely draconian punishment.

Following protests in response to the fraudulent 2009 Iranian presidential election, prominent pro-reform activists, lawyers, journalists and politicians were not only imprisoned but also subjected to televised show trials in which they were coerced into making confessions.

Torture by security forces and prison personnel is terribly pervasive. Beatings, threats of execution, sleep deprivation, even rape of prisoners and detainees are widespread. Judicially sanctioned corporal punishment is often cruel and unusual, and even includes amputations and lashings and stonings as a method of execution. Iranian practices with regard to capital and corporal punishment have attracted widespread condemnation from international human rights bodies and organizations.

While Iran acknowledged 421 executions in 2011, observers in Iran counted more than 650 executions based on publicly available information. Official statistics vastly understate the number of executions actually carried out, and they reportedly omit mass executions of prisoners who are in Iranian institutions.

Public executions continue using the cruel and inhumane method of suspension strangulation whereby individuals are suspended by the neck for 20 minutes to 30 minutes until they slowly die of asphyxiation. That is simply intolerable.

A revised Iranian penal code, due to take effect later this year, does remove the stoning penalty, and the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran has encouraged the government to explicitly restrict the use of this punishment and to commute existing sentences of execution by stoning. That revised penal code also abolishes the execution of juvenile offenders and offers alternative penalties to incarceration at the judge's discretion. These changes of course are very welcome, but it remains to be seen whether and how the new law will be applied in practice and whether existing sentences will be commuted in the spirit of this new law. Forgive us if we are less than convinced that real action and real reforms will actually take place.

The Government of Canada has been unequivocal in its position that Iran's human rights abuses in their various forms are completely unacceptable. Authorities must take immediate and effective measures to ensure judicial independence and due process are afforded to each and every Iranian citizen. As part of its ongoing efforts to promote respect for human rights in Iran, for the ninth year Canada led the resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the fall 2011 session of the United Nations General Assembly. We have imposed some of the toughest sanctions in the world. We continue to work bilaterally and multilaterally with allies in like-minded countries to ensure that Iran's human rights record does not go ignored.

Rather than seeing improvements, the Iranian authorities seem to be further refining their system of oppression and control, including a submissive judiciary machine quick to crush any sign of citizen dissent and free expression. Canada will continue to stand with the Iranian people and urge Iranian authorities to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the legitimate rights of the Iranian people.

Iran
Government Orders

10:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Chair, I wish to thank my colleague for speaking tonight. His speech was very thoughtful.

I would like to ask him a question about the right to abortion in Iran. In Iran, according to the law, anyone who causes an abortion must pay a fine.

Does he think that this is an appropriate way to deal with people who participate in abortions?

Iran
Government Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, although I will with courtesy thank my colleague from across the way, I am astounded that the question of a mere fine in the context of the Iranian situation should be raised with any degree of seriousness in this House. I have constituents in my riding who are concerned because their friends and loved ones are subject to threat of execution.

I have related to this House some of the absolutely heinous measures that the Iranian regime takes, up to and including the practice of suspension strangulation. Can members imagine being hung by the neck for 20 to 30 minutes, gradually dying of asphyxiation?

Therefore I must say I find it somewhat inappropriate that in the context of the Iranian abuse of human rights we have a member in the House today asking about mere fines. This House should confine itself to the serious matter at hand in a professional and non-partisan way that really reflects the actual concerns of Iranian Canadians, Baha'i Canadians and others about the terrible human rights abuses that are occurring in Iran.

Iran
Government Orders

10:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Chair, they got two first, we have two now, so we are all equal.

In my speech, I focused on the rights of women, and of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. I have here a copy of the UN Human Rights Committee report, which says that it is very concerned by the fact that homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered people are being subject to harassment, persecution and cruel punishment, and may even be sentenced to death for a number of reasons. I talked about three cases in which people were hanged. They also face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, especially with regard to access to employment, housing and health care. These people are often completely excluded from society and often cannot work.

The committee recommended that the state repeal any law or legislative measure resulting in discrimination against women—who also do not have the right to hold political positions—and against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

What does the hon. member have to say about the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee?

Iran
Government Orders

10:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, I thank the colleague opposite for her question because she does touch on an extremely important point. It is one that arises particularly from article 6 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am sure my colleague opposite is well aware of article 6 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but for those others in the House who may not be, I would like to repeat it here. I do not have a copy of it in front of me, but I know it almost by heart because it is a provision I hold close to my heart, so perhaps I will paraphrase it.

Article 6 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to be considered a person under law everywhere. There are no exceptions admitted to that in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which as my friend opposite knows, applies to every member of the human family.

I make it a personal point to draw this to the attention of the House and the members present that every human being deserves the protection of basic human rights. In this respect, there can be no discrimination of gender or age or location or interface with the law whatsoever. Every human being deserves to be considered a human person under the law, and there are very few laws in the world today that do not comply with that. Those that do fail to comply with that requirement are generally 400-year-old throwbacks to a different era.

Iran
Government Orders

10:30 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Chair, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague, the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, for his eloquent and sobering speech on tonight's subject. His speech has brought this debate down to earth with regard to the absolutely devastating challenges facing the Iranian people.

Given that the phenomena of execution, of torture, of suspension leading to strangulation, of political imprisonment of Baha'i leadership and many other categories of citizens facing this terrible form of persecution is so widespread in Iran, would he not agree with all of us in the House that the Iranian regime is ruling by fear in a situation where a regime clings to power by fear, by trampling systematically on human rights?

In the absence of other forms of influence that we as Canadians and members of the House can have on their internal political process, it really behooves all of us to think carefully about the sanctions regime that is in place and about the impact it is having on the authors of this suffering in Iran, the government, those in authority, those in a position to make the situation better or worse, if there are any of those in a position to alleviate suffering.

While we move to strengthen sanctions to make them more effective with our allies, we can only expect these sanctions to be effective if we are united in our will to bring pressure to bear, to alleviate Iranians' suffering and to speak with one voice both in the House as members of this place and as Canadians in a country that is determined to stand on principle, has done so for nine years or more and will continue to do so as long as debates like this continue.

Does my colleague agree that the unity of our determination as expressed in today's debate is really the essence of the matter we are discussing tonight?

Iran
Government Orders

10:35 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for putting the point so well. As we stand here in the House, we must not forget that we represent Canadians. Canadians are justifiably proud of our justice system and our stand against human rights abuse, which with few exceptions, is well known around the world as a beacon on the hill.

I want to close these remarks by giving my hon. colleagues some inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, who did observe something very germane to this debate. He was a wise man and much to be admired. Mahatma Gandhi, and again I am going to paraphrase a bit, observed that murderers and tyrants will often arise but they shall pass away. Truth and love will endure forever. We must stand together to represent that value to the world in relation to Iran.

Iran
Government Orders

10:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, in the first part of my remarks this evening, I mentioned that this take note debate was as urgent as it is necessary and that we meet at an important moment in a massive domestic repression in Iran. I believe the submissions by my colleagues on all sides of the House are testimony to the importance if not urgency of this debate.

We meet, as I said earlier, on the fifth anniversary of the imprisonment of the Baha'i leadership, a case study of Iranian injustice in the criminalization of innocence and the targeting of Iran's largest religious minority in its pattern of persistent and pervasive human rights violations: its trumped-up charges, fabricated evidence, coercive interrogation, torture in detention, denial of counsel, indeed denial of any due process rights, as the member forKitchener Centre himself eloquently spoke of, the intimidation and arrest of the lawyers themselves, if they were even allowed such counsel, the harassment and intimidation of their children, the demonization of the community as a whole and the ongoing incitement to hatred and contempt for this targeted minority. The whole, I might add, and there is more than one could say, is constituted of crimes against humanity of the Baha'i-targeted minority.

We meet also on the occasion of the imprisonment of an iconic 80-year-old and now ailing Iranian political leader. I am referring to Ebrahim Yazdi, a leader of the freedom movement party, one of its early founders and a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, a person who once was a colleague of the Ayatollah Khomeini until he himself broke with him and established this freedom movement. He became, as I say, an iconic opposition political leader until he, too, has now been sentenced to nine years of imprisonment at a time that he is suffering from cancer, heart ailments and the like. This not only being a denial of any expression or political rights of association but a brutal assault in the form of imprisonment and confinement at this point.

Yazdi's conviction was for “establishing and leading the freedom movement party” for the catch-all crime of propaganda against the regime and for exercising political rights, a freedom of association and expression protected both under international covenants to which Iran is a state party, let alone as well under Iranian law. The entire leadership of this party has now been imprisoned or is out on bail awaiting sentencing.

Who was Ebrahim Yazdi's lawyer? It was none other than the lawyer, as mentioned by my colleague from Kitchener Centre, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who has been charged with “membership in an organization”. What is that organization? It is Iran's Centre for Human Rights Defenders, who has now himself been sentenced to nine years in prison for the “crime of defending the rights of others”, be they Ebrahim Yazdi and, yes, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani himself who is now as well facing a death sentence for alleged apostasy from Islam.

Just today we learned that four gay men in Iran are due to be executed for sodomy under Iran's Sharia laws.

In the last several months, both in the run up to the recent parliamentary elections and in the immediate aftermath of those elections, we have seen the quarantine of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers of civil society leadership, as well as the lawyers who would defend them. The imprisonment of Abdolfattah Soltani came after he publicly called for a recount of Iran's presidential election, just as the lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has been imprisoned similarly for exercising rights of, as I said, association and expression.

Moreover, since the 2009 green revolution movement, the massive repression has included the systematic targeting of cyber dissidents, some of them with a Canadian connection in that regard.

For example, the Canadian resident and Iranian citizen, Saeed Malekpour, a 36-year-old web designer, was arrested on trumped-up charges relating to the posting of pornographic material on the Internet, was tortured in detention, was forced to make a false televised confession, was sentenced to death and is now under imminent threat of execution. According to Malekpour's family, the death sentence was at the urging of the Iranian revolutionary guard corps, which the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center at Yale University has noted is responsible for the murder of Iranian dissidents both inside and outside Iran.

Similarly, Vahid Asghari, a blogger who hosted websites critical of the government, was sentenced to death on January 6, 2012 after conviction of, here we have it again that catch-all crime, “corruption on the earth” for allegedly organizing a pornographic network against Islam and the state. In October 2009, he said in a letter to a judge that he had been subjected to torture, was also forced to make a televised confession and forced to make spying allegations against another high profile blogger, Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, who had been serving a sentence of 19 and a half years for his role in helping Iranian dissidents create blogs but is now himself under imminent threat of execution.

I want to commend the government for the stands and positions it has taken in respect of both Mr. Malekpour and Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall.

Nor has the conventional media been spared from Iran's state sanctioned assault on human rights. Indeed, Iran has already imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world.

This past several months have also witnessed a massive assault on filmmakers, artists and the leadership of major independent Iranian organizations. This has included the shutting down of the Iranian House of Cinema, the country's leading independent film association with over 5,000 members. The body is also behind this year's Oscar-winning foreign film A Separation. The arrests have also included celebrated filmmaker Jafar Panahi and BBC filmmakers and the house arrest of, as we know, opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Many civil society organizations have been shut down. It would take me the rest of my time to list them, but suffice it to say that they are leading human rights organizations, trade union organizations, women's organizations and the like.

Numerous leaders in the women's movement and women journalists have been deliberately targeted, arrested, persecuted and even executed while others continue to disappear or to be threatened with execution. This includes, for example, the prominent Iranian filmmaker and women's rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi, who directed the acclaimed documentary Women Without Shadows, who has been arrested by the intelligence services of the IRGC for “unknown reasons”.

Other members have been mentioned this evening but I will mention only one and that is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a celebrated defence attorney for activists and political detainees, who was herself charged with, yet again that catch-all phrase, “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”, was sentenced to 11 years in prison but was later reduced to six years after an international protest and multiple hunger strikes. However, she is a case study of the assaults on lawyers who would represent political prisoners and who would assert the rights of their clients in this regard.

Moreover, Iran has sought to limit Internet access and restrict the content that can be posted online. A new Iranian cyberarmy has been formed and, as the latest Amnesty International report explains, this force has blocked websites while initiating attacks on servers, including those of Twitter and the Voice of America, again to quiet all forms of expression.

And so, the question is: What can and must we do?

Simply put, we must expose, unmask and hold Iran accountable for its massive domestic repression. This has prompted the establishment of an Interparliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, an international consortium of parliamentarians from all over the world, that I co-chair with U.S. senator Mark Kirk. Our group has initiated now an Iranian political prisoner advocacy project that will invite members of Parliament to take up the cases of these political prisoners.

Again we must call for the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners, those detained for doing nothing other than exercising their rights under Iranian law and international law. We need to support the work of the international UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and continue to hold Iran accountable for its violation of international resolutions, as well as the one sponsored by Canada.

Moreover, and I will close on this, all states can and should redouble their efforts to support dissidents in Iran and stand in solidarity with them. This is not a time to abandon the people of Iran, who are themselves the targets and victims of the Iranian regime's massive assault on human rights. We must champion their case and cause, let them know that the world is watching, that they are not alone and that we will not only stand in solidarity with them but work and advocate on their behalf.

Iran
Government Orders

10:45 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Chair, first let me commend this hon. member. I have had numerous conversations with him in debate, including in this House, about his excellent work in bringing forward human rights abuses in Iran. Today in his speech he has very eloquently pointed out very serious issues of human rights abuses in Iran, and he continued to do so throughout his career when he was the Minister of Justice.

As he rightly pointed out, Canada, for the ninth year, has put in a resolution at the United Nations, which for the first time has received a tremendous amount of international support, the highest it has ever received, which shows that the international community is very much concerned—as he is, as we are—by the erosion of human rights in Iran.

Of course, I would like to acknowledge the fact that he was the government's minister of justice at the time when the resolutions were being brought forth, and we continued doing that.

There is no question that we put great value on his judgment. Not only that, the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself places great importance on the work that the member has done; not only that, he also takes his strong advice.

My question to him is this: does he feel that in his interface with the Minister of Foreign Affairs he is happy and confident that this government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have been moving very strongly on this file that he has very strongly highlighted, because during the period of time that he has done that, the government has acted on it?

I want to ask the hon. member's opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who has been working with him to bring these issues to the forefront.

Iran
Government Orders

10:50 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, I want to echo the sentiments expressed earlier: that this is the kind of issue on which we must work together in common cause. As a result, I have had the pleasure of working with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has been seized of this issue almost from the point of his inception as minister. He has helped to initiate and bring into being important sanctions, both with respect to the nuclear threat and with respect to the human rights threat.

If I had any recommendations to make—I have made them to the minister and I have made them publicly, and we continue to discuss them—they would be threefold. As I say, it is not to detract from the important and sustaining work that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the department have continued to do, and the parliamentary secretary as well.

They would be threefold. One, I continue to believe that we need to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps by listing them as a terrorist entity. They are at the epicentre of the fourfold Iranian threat: nuclear, incitement, terrorists, massive domestic repression.

Two, I think we need to expand our human rights sanctions. As I say, I commend the government for making a beginning with respect to these sanctions, but we need in particular to begin to sanction those in the Iranian legal system—the prosecutors, the judges, et cetera—who are responsible for this massive assault on human rights. We have been sanctioning particularly with regard to those involved in the nuclear threat; I think we need to sanction more with regard to those involved in the massive human rights violations, particularly within the legal system and particularly those at the apex of that legal system.

Finally in that regard, another recommendation I made to the minister—and I close on this—is that given the state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide, a standing violation of the genocide convention, I think it would behoove Canada to take the lead morally, politically and legally and initiate an inter-state complaint against Iran, which is a state party to the genocide convention, before the International Court of Justice and hold its leadership to account.

Iran
Government Orders

May 14th, 2012 / 10:50 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Chair, no one can question the member for Mount Royal's credibility on the human rights file.

I also would like to congratulate him on all the work he has done in his riding. I do not think anyone can question his determination and devotion to his parliamentary responsibilities and his privileges. It is important that the member be able to express his parliamentary privileges on every occasion possible. What he has done with the Interparliamentary Union that he has set up is commendable. It is an excellent example of non-partisanship that we could all learn from.

Iran has a terrible record when it comes to executions. It is second to none after China. Our country and the Conservative government have not done quite enough in my opinion to condemn executions. Could the member address that? Are we doing enough? Are we sending a mixed message where we actually say in some cases executions are permissible and in other cases they are not? What would the member say about our policy regarding executions in foreign countries?

Iran
Government Orders

10:55 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, as I have said before, and I will reiterate again this evening, our policy with regard to the death penalty needs to be a principled and consistent policy. In Canada, we have held both as a matter of principle, policy and law, and the Supreme Court has so held, that the death penalty is a violation of section 7 of the charter and also amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

As I said earlier in the debate, when I was minister of justice, I signed, on behalf of Canada, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, committing us to opposing the death penalty abroad and doing so without fear or favour. Initially, the Conservative government took a position, which I opposed at the time, that it would deal with these issues on a case by case basis with respect to, for example, Canadian citizens imprisoned abroad, as we now have with regard to Montana. I do not think this is something that is susceptible to a case by case basis.

If we take a principled and consistent position, we have to oppose the death penalty wherever it occurs, even if it is in a democracy like the United States because here too our Supreme Court has said that we cannot extradite to the United States to a state where there may be a death penalty. The law is the law. Principles are principles.

I commend the government for its condemnation of the death penalty and executions in Iran and elsewhere, but we have to be consistent in our application of this principle so we can be as effective as we can be with respect to this application.

Iran
Government Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Chair, the member for Mount Royal's work on human rights is world renown and his knowledge on Iran is second to none.

I agree with the three point plan that he laid out on taking more aggressive actions against the leadership in Iran to ensure that it starts listening to the issues of human rights and that it actually starts changing its attitude in dealing with its people.

I know the member for Mount Royal is also extremely familiar with the way not only human rights abuses have extended to religious freedoms, but also to the political freedoms of parties and organizations. I think of the Mujahideen and how many of their leadership are living in exile across Europe, particularly in France, or the Mujahideen-e-khalq who live in exile in Iraq and now possibly could be facing even greater human rights abuses within Iraq, never mind being extradited ex-patriot back to Tehran, which they fear.

They are in Camp Ashraf and are in the process of being transferred to Camp Liberty, which is really a prison champ. Could he comment on the situation there and how that all plays out with the way President Abedinejad and the ayatollah is running Iran?