Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Human Rights Situation in Iran
Mr. Jean Dorion (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, BQ):  
    Madam Speaker, after the jasmine revolution in Tunisia and the popular democratic protest movement in Egypt, the movement is now expanding to other countries in the Middle East, such as Iran.
    After the massive demonstrations held in that country in 2009 to protest the results of the rigged presidential election won by Ahmadinejad, the so-called green movement is mobilizing yet again.
    The political imbroglio of 2009 has yet to be resolved in a satisfactory manner. The regime has done absolutely nothing except suppress dissent. That is why we must demand that Iran practise transparency in its election process and that it allow its people to choose their government and, particularly, a new president eventually.
    Iran ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is very ironic and incongruous, since that international convention requires signatories to do exactly the opposite of what Iran is doing. It stipulates that all peoples have the right of self-determination and therefore the right to freely determine their political status and choose their leaders.
    Over the past few days, demonstrations were held in Iran in support of the people of Egypt and Tunisia. These demonstrations led to a protest against Iran’s existing regime, which was violently suppressed. Shots were fired into the crowd, people were killed and tear gas was used. Meanwhile, opposition leaders were placed under house arrest.
    The Bloc Québécois supports these popular and democratic protest movements and denounces the filthy conservatives in the Iranian parliament who now want the death penalty for the opposition leaders accused of leading yesterday’s demonstration. The people of Iran must be able to freely express themselves.
    The bond of trust between the State and most of the Iranian population has truly been broken. Since the 2009 protests, the regime can no longer claim to represent its people. The Iranian street spoke out in 2009 and it is doing so again now. The people no longer want the status quo. The street has a thirst for freedom.
    We will always stand behind those fighting for freedom. Let us remember that freedom is a universal and inalienable right. Democracy and the rule of law are simply the natural expression of a free society. The violence used to repress the demonstrators is not consistent with democracy. This confirms that Iran has to develop a political system that is free, transparent and open to civil society if it wants to play its role in the world.
    We condemn the Internet censorship imposed by the government on the Iranian people. The Iranian government must permit full access to the Internet and to the various social sites. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are not negotiable.
    These new demonstrations are yet another chapter in a tragic story.
    Let us remember that the country of Iran was robbed of its own true democratic revolution in 1953 when Prime Minister Mossadegh was forced to resign and placed under house arrest. The uprising was orchestrated by the U.S. and British secret services at a time when Iran was nationalizing its oil industry to ensure the development and progress of the Iranian people. In a speech delivered in Cairo in 2009, President Obama acknowledged this historical injustice.
    The call for greater freedom and democracy in Iran is not coming just from western countries. On February 13, 2011, Turkish President Abdullah Gül, while visiting Iran, said:
    Radical reforms must be carried out in order to meet the expectations of the people. Sometimes the people demand what the leaders and administrations are unable to achieve. When leaders are unable to assume their responsibilities, the people take over the leadership. After all these developments, our hope is that the people will emerge from the process with honour and happiness.
    The Bloc Québécois could not have said it better.
    In the beginning, the Iranian government congratulated the Egyptians for liberating themselves from Mubarak. The regime saw it as an Islamic renewal in Egypt. Moreover, the day that Mubarak resigned was the day of the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution of February 11, 1979. Nevertheless, the Iranian government was not really taken in. It sought to propagate a distorted version of the events in Egypt. It filtered information from the foreign media because they put too much emphasis on the democratic aspirations expressed by the Egyptian masses during the demonstrations. Knowing that a protest was being planned for February 14 in Iran, the government took preventive measures with regard to the instigators of the green movement, Iran’s democratic movement.
    Former chairman of parliament and presidential candidate in the 2009 election, Mehdi Karroubi was confined to his residence as of February 10. Former Prime Minister of Iran and another presidential candidate in the 2009 election, Mir-Hossein Mousavi had his telephone jammed. Some of Mr. Karroubi’s and Mr. Mousavi’s closest advisors were also arrested. To justify these actions, the government stated that it could not allow Iran to be divided by granting the friends of westerners and henchmen of Zionism the right to demonstrate.
    Despite these preventive manoeuvres by the regime, the green movement did not waver. More than 45,000 people signed the Facebook page calling for the demonstration. On the eve of the demonstrations, the regime tried to prevent the mobilization by slowing down Internet speed and blocking cellphone networks. Nevertheless, on Monday, February 14, Iranians steadfastly took to the streets of Tehran. They were there calling for more freedom. Many demonstrators were chanting the slogan “Death to the dictator”, a clear message directed to Iranian leaders.
    When one of the leaders of the green movement left his house to join the demonstrations, security forces prevented him from going. They also prevented unions, women’s groups, student groups, all civil society groups from joining the demonstrators. On Wednesday, there were clashes between pro- and anti-government protestors during the funeral of a demonstrator.
    The fact that Iranians are demonstrating in the streets when the repression of 2009 is still so fresh in their minds illustrates how angry they are. They want nothing less than the fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.
    As in Tunisia and in Egypt, the demonstrators are using the new technologies available to them—
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The Deputy Chair:  
    I have to interrupt the hon. member. Perhaps he could continue after questions.