Mr. Speaker, Thursday of this week will see the beginning of a trial in Iran that those of us who value human rights and democracy will be closely watching.
Thirteen Jewish citizens of Iran stand accused of crimes against the state. Many foreign observers are of the view that these charges are unfounded and have been trumped up by Iran's conservative clergy as a part of their scheme to slow the opening of Iran.
Many of us watched with interest and hope during the recent elections in Iran which moved the country closer to being the open and democratic society that its citizens wish.
We are encouraged by some of the recent positive initiatives put forward by the Iranian government concerning the prosecution of the accused. Basic rights, such as the right to choose free and independent counsel, and certain bail provisions have been granted. However, the Iranian government must act to ensure that provisions of a fair trial are upheld throughout the course of the proceedings.
Many of us respect Iran for its rich history and its dynamic and educated population. However, our eyes will be on this trial and we expect that the accused will receive a fair verdict and that religious freedom will be protected in Iran.