Mr. Speaker, over the course of world history, many different political systems have emerged. Like all human developments, none are perfect, but there is little question that for those who have benefited from it, democracy is truly the most equitable and responsible of all systems of government.
The reality is the world is full of nations that put on a show of democracy, but in actuality those democratic outcomes have been predetermined by a ruling group intent on maintaining its power through oppression if necessary. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iran.
While the supreme authorities of Iran have gone through the democratic motions once every four years, the reality is all candidates have all been hand selected by an unelected and unaccountable group of clerics. Simply put, Iran is a theocratic state shrouded behind a mask of democracy.
The egregious natures of the Iranian government's human rights abuses include a broad swath of violations, all intended to reinforce the domination by the leadership over every aspect of Iranian life and to ensure that all social interactions are controlled by the government.
The Iranian government has time and again arrested union leaders and responded to peaceful strikes with deadly violence. The right to withhold one's labour is an important one. People must be able to advocate for better working conditions, otherwise the reality for working people would be unbearable.
The arrest of Mansour Osanloo, as well as hundreds of other labour organizers, is an affront to human rights, and this kind of behaviour must stop. Canadians can be proud of labour organizations, like Teamsters Canada, that are working to keep this issue on the forefront.
Similarly the treatment of religious minorities in Iran, including Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Baha'is and many others, is abysmal. These groups are regularly targeted for rioting, mass arrest, terror and intimidation. They are used as scapegoats to vent the fears and frustrations of the population and their rights, while technically guaranteed, are constantly trampled by the Iranian authorities.
The violations of that government, however, are not limited to minorities. The oppression of women under Iranian law is extensive. Everything from schoolrooms to ski slopes to public buses is strictly segregated.
In the first year after the revolution, females who did not cover all parts of their bodies, except their hands and faces, were subject to severe punishment. This suppression of half of Iran's society is further evidence of this disregard for human rights.
The Iranian government even violated the few human rights agreements that it does sign. The public execution of Mahmoud Asgari, a 16-year-old gay youth, not only violated his right to enter into a private relationship, but was also a contravention of a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which states that no person under the age of 18 will be executed.
All those violations of human rights are designed to keep the population subjugated and impose the government's will on even the most basic of social interactions. These Orwellian tactics continue to be used as a mechanism for Iranian rulers to maintain their power.
Canada has historically been a leader at the United Nations on the issue of human rights. The previous Liberal minister of foreign affairs was responsible for introducing a number of United Nations resolutions condemning the violation of human rights in Iran and demanding that Iran comply with international law. It is vital that Canada finds a way to ensure that the United Nations becomes a more vocal force for human rights in all nations across the world.
What is the government doing to address human rights violations by the Iranian government?