Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Iran and Sudan’s Human Rights Violations

Mr. Mario Silva (Davenport, Lib.): 

    Mr. Speaker, tragically, we as human beings are reminded all too often of the sad reality that there are people who, for whatever reason or cause, are prepared to inflect upon their fellow human beings unimaginable acts of cruelty and hatred.

    If we are to work toward a more just, stable and peaceful world, we need to ensure that violations of human rights are confronted forcefully. It was the Dalai Lama who stated, “Peace can only last where human rights are respected”.

    History is unfortunately full of examples where peace is undermined simply because of indifference, fear to confront, or a belief that nothing could be done to change what is occurring in a given state or region.

    The two nations noted in this motion, Sudan and Iran, are indeed countries in which human rights are clearly and consistently being violated. Through a systematic and institutionalized means, these two states act in a manner that cries out for action on the part of the world community.

    The amount of human suffering in Darfur is simply unimaginable. It is also absolutely and completely unacceptable. The United Nations report in 2005 confirms that within Darfur, murder, torture, mass rape, summary executions and arbitrary detention have taken place.

    The United Nations has passed no less than 15 resolutions with respect to human rights abuses in Sudan. U.N. resolution 1590, passed in 2005, mandates the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement which Sudan continues to defy in practical terms. Resolution 1706, passed recently, extends the mandate to October 15, 2008.

    This situation is intolerable and the ongoing violence against the people of Darfur is a blight upon the world community.

    Similarly, the situation with regard to Iran is totally unacceptable within the context of international human rights law and in respect of the most fundamental standards of state-sponsored conduct.

    One has only to look at the volumes of evidence confirming human rights violations in Iran. These violations extend to labour leaders, religious groups, dissidents, gays, lesbians, women and journalists to name but a few.

    We in Canada are familiar with the terrible actions by Iranian officials that resulted in the death of journalist, Zahra Kazemi. In particular, the Iranian prosecutor, General Saeed Mortazavi, must be brought to justice for his actions.

    I have presented a motion before this House calling for the initiation of an international criminal investigation of General Mortazavi and will continue to demand action in respect to his conduct.

    As recently as February 22 of this year, Human Rights Watch has called upon Iran to end the practice of executing juveniles. As with most of these cases, the very validity of the alleged crimes is called into question.

    This morning, Ms. Shirin Ebadi appeared before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights where she spoke about the violation of human rights in Iran. Ms. Ebadi is, of course, the recipient of the 2003 Nobel peace prize for her work on human rights and the promotion of democracy.

    We know that Iran, either directly or indirectly through agencies and groups, supports and encourages these violations. What is referenced here are the most brutal measures that are absolutely incompatible with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which confirms that human rights are universal, to name just two international conventions governing state conduct.

    The situation in these two nations is bleak to say the least. The level of human suffering in Sudan and Iran is something we cannot ignore and we must take action as parliamentarians.