Mr. Chair, I think I am closing this debate tonight here in Ottawa in the House. I am pleased to participate in this important debate on Iran's human rights record.
During the 2013 Iranian presidential election, the world was hopeful of President Rouhani being elected. He promised equal rights for all Iranians regardless of ethnicity and religion. He promised to tackle entrenched corruption and grant Iranians basic freedoms, as well as unleash the constrained talents and aspirations of the Iranian people.
Unfortunately, as we approach the two-year anniversary of Rouhani being elected, his promises have not been realized. The people of Iran continue to suffer at the hand of the regressive and oppressive Iranian regime. Rouhani has failed to live up to his commitments. He has attempted to cover up the failings and crimes of his regime through a sophisticated public relations campaign.
This is the reality of Rouhani's time in office.
Since his taking office, the number of executions has actually increased in comparison to his predecessors. In 2014, the Iranian regime executed 753 individuals. This was an increase from the already record high of 687 in 2013. Moreover, for this year, the Iranian regime has already executed 329 individuals, well on its way to break last year's totals. This startling reality was echoed by the United Nations Secretary General who noted, “...the application of the death penalty, including in relation to political prisoners and juvenile offenders”, has increased.
Despite pledges by Iran's current administration on human rights issues, the situation in Iran has not improved. This is a regime that has not changed its ways. It continues to systematically infringe and violate the most basic human rights. The Iranian regime continues to flout due process and the rule of law, and severely restrict freedom of expression and assembly. Our government has actively taken action with our global partners to advocate for human rights of Iranians. We have imposed some of the strictest sanctions in the world against the regime.
We also led and co-sponsored last year's United Nations resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, alongside 46 other countries. This ensures that Iran's human rights record remains on the global agenda.
In addition, we have also partnered with civil society groups to create and open an online digital square for Iranians to discuss openly and freely the issues facing the Iranian people. The people of Iran can count on Canada to remain vocal on the human rights situation in Iran.
On the nuclear front, the regime has remained non-compliant. In defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, Iran continues to have a ballistic missile program and has been accused of seeking to develop missiles capable of being armed with a nuclear warhead.
In November 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, released a report detailing 12 areas of nuclear research and development. The IAEA described these activities as being “...relevant to the development of a nuclear...device” and stated that prior to 2003 these activities were part of a structured program with links to the military. The report went on to say that some of the activities have continued past 2003 and could be ongoing. Many of these activities have no known civilian purpose. If Iran were not pursuing the development of nuclear weapons through this research into nuclear explosive development indicators, as the IAEA terms them, then why will Iran not co-operate with the IAEA, and verifiably demonstrate that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes?
In 2013, the IAEA agreed with Iran on a framework for co-operation to look into the issues of the possible military dimensions, or PMDs, of Iran's nuclear program. Iran failed to meet the August 25, 2014, deadline for implementing measures related to two of the PMDs, to which it had agreed. Since August 2014, when IAEA director general Amano travelled to Tehran to get promises of co-operation from Iranian President Rouhani, the framework for co-operation has remained effectively stalled due to stonewalling by Iran. Iran has repeatedly made high level, public promises of co-operation, but does not deliver on these promises.
Iran has repeatedly refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit Parchin, a military base close to Tehran, where Iran is suspected of having conducted high explosives testing relevant to the development of a nuclear weapon. Iran will also not allow the IAEA to speak with key Iranian scientists, including those who have led PMD-related work. Why would any country that was only aspiring to peaceful uses of nuclear power not simply allow the IAEA's inspectors the access they are seeking?
Diplomacy is the only way out of the situation. Iran needs to give the IAEA “anytime, anywhere” access, as Canada and other responsible countries do.
The time has come for Iranian exceptionalism to be over. Iran must follow the same nuclear rules as we do and be held accountable for its actions.