Ten years ago today, Iranian students protested against corruption,
injustice and the lack of basic liberties. Their courage resulted in the deaths of
seventeen students and many injuries, committed by a group called "Ansare Hezbollah",
which was organized by the government of Iran. The seventeen were martyrs to the cause of
Iranian justice, just as Neda Soltani and the other victims of recent weeks are so today.
Later in 1999, the regime arrested many of the protesting students and others, claiming
they had acted against national security. Among them was Ahmad Batebi, who was arrested
because his photo, while holding the bloody shirt of his friend, appeared in the Economist
magazine . Those arrested endured terrible conditions in solitary confinement and
underwent inhuman tortures merely for raising their voices against tyranny. Some are still
This year, we are protesting against the oppression of Iranian people after a fraudulent
presidential election. Ballot stuffing in favour of the incumbent, as the world now
knows, was done on a massive scale.The oppression of dissent during the past thirty years
has been violent. Attempts to establish the rule of law, respect for all, multiparty
democracy or even reform are seen a direct challenge to the ayatollahs' authority.
Post June 12th
The Iranian people spoke out loudly and clearly after June 12th when they protested in the
millions in the streets of Tehran and many other communities across Iran. In the words of
a young woman who emailed friends outside her country, "...this is the most authentic,
grassroots and beautiful movement from the people, by the people and for the people."
On July 4th, an important group of religious leaders in Iran termed the disputed
presidential election and the new government illegitimate. This was a public sign of a
major split in the country’s clerical community. The statement by the group, the
Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a major setback for the
government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The government has attempted to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate,
Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes bizarre. With
its statement, the association of clerics is firmly on the side of the reformers.
Two anonymous medical doctors in Tehran recently denounced the climate of terror that
exists in hospitals to which injured anti-Ahmadinejad protesters were transferred. One
said: "In Tehran, we are the powerless witnesses of real crimes against humanity...It all
started on Saturday 13 June - the first day of protest against the election results...''
''We found that the bullets had passed through the torsos diagonally, which means they
were fired from above - i.e. a roof," said the second doctor.
A list reportedly made by the nursing staff from different hospitals showed that to date
more than 92 people died in Tehran and its suburbs.
A Role for Canada
The truth is that, other than verbal condemnation, the international community has thus
far failed to offer substantive assistance to the people of Iran, who aspire to the basic
human dignity prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In fact, over
several decades, many democratic governments have sought to appease the ayatollahs in part
by failing openly to support Iranian opposition to their regime.
As Canadian citizens, many of us believe our government should show leadership by firmly
siding with the people of Iran.
Some of us propose that Canada`s national government:
- Urge a new presidential election with independent monitoring;
- Challenge the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad at the global governance level if no new
election is held;
- Adopt the European Union’s position in reducing political and diplomatic
relations with Ahmadinejad's regime;
- Impose trade sanctions except for urgent medical requirements;
- Urge the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court to initiate charges
against Ahmadinejad and Khamenei for crimes against humanity in accordance with Article 5
of the Rome Statute;
- De-list immediately the PMOI by following the example of 27 EU countries and
recognize the group as a legitimate opposition to the Tehran regime.
Publish a national stamp in memory of ‘Neda,’ who was killed by a regime sniper,
as a symbolic gesture of support for the Iranian people's peaceful resistance against
tyranny and all those killed by regime violence;
Such actions are needed by Canada and all rule-of-law nations in support of the Iranian
people. We stand on guard for Canada best when we defend our national values, such as the
rule of law and human dignity as reflected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the same
rights and freedoms the Iranian are seeking.