Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Cotler only Canadian speaker at Iran rally; Harper government a no-show

OTTAWA – While Stephen Harper skipped out on a critical United Nations meeting in New York this week, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler acted as the sole Canadian speaker at a rally in front of UN Headquarters today calling for freedom in Iran.

“We continue to urge the Harper government to join us in initiatives – both domestic and international – to hold the Iranian leadership to account,” said Mr. Cotler.

Professor Cotler, the Liberal party’s Special Counsel on Human Rights & International Justice, has taken the lead in Canada and around the world to hold Iran’s leadership to account for its domestic repression, nuclear proliferation, global terrorism and state-sanctioned incitement to genocide.

In June, he introduced Bill C-412, the Iran Accountability Act, which the Liberal Party has endorsed, along with his Global Responsibility to Prevent petition calling for the Iranian leadership to be held to account, which was signed by some 60 leading genocide scholars and survivors on the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention.

Professor Cotler’s similar motion before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights was opposed by the two Conservative members.

In his speech at the “Standing for Freedom in Iran” rally today, Mr. Cotler said bringing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to justice is an international legal responsibility.

“Ahmadinejad’s Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger to its own people and to international peace and security,” he said. “Ahmadinejad’s appearance at the UN shames the cause of human rights and shames the founding ideals of the UN. Ahmadinejad does not belong at a podium of the UN – he belongs in the docket of the accused.

“The time has come to stand up for a free Iran, to stand up for justice for the Iranian people,” he said.