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Canada Conference Abuses Due Process of Democracy

By Mehrtash Rastegar
Board Member of Neda for a Free Iran

On October 28, 2010, a conference titled ‘Just and Sustainable Peace in Iran’ was held at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, Canada. It was a well kept secret until the last moment, as if to avoid the just and due scrutiny of defenders of human rights and justice.

This event was organized by the ‘Ottawa Group of Four’ — two current and two former Green candidates in Ottawa-area ridings – the current candidates are retired air-force Colonel Paul Maillet in Ottawa-Orléans, and Qais Ghanem in Ottawa South.

Also involved was Akbar Manoussi, who was recently hired as chair of “clean energy education” at the Willis College of Business, Health, and Technology in Ottawa. Manoussi has also identified himself as “Director General” of the unknown “Iranian Cultural Centre” in Ottawa, which incidentally shares the same address as the Iranian embassy.

The conference included academics from Tehran University, including Saeid Ameli, Dean of the faculty of global studies; Davood Ameri, Director-General of the Islamic World Peace Forum, a Tehran-based ‘NGO’ whose website postings closely mirror the views of the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), including cartoon drawings of a hook-nosed Jew wearing a top hat full of tiny skulls; and Nasir Islam, a professor at the University of Ottawa.

Colonel Maillet, who is also the President of the ‘Centre for Ethics’, maintained that the event is an attempt to build “an alternative approach to conflict that doesn’t lead ... down the path of violence”. However, IRI news website, ‘Tabnak’ reported on the event, titling it “Counter Revolution’s Failed Attempt to Disband an anti-Zionist Conference”. So, the IRI view this conference as ‘anti-Zionist’; and Colonel Maillet annexes this with ‘peace’ when encouraging dialogue with IRI to engage in ‘peace-keeping’ efforts. Would it have been wise to have engaged in dialogue with Adolf Hitler after he perpetrated the horrors of the concentration camps?

Mr. Homayoun Mobasseri of Neda for a Free Iran clarified that ‘peace-keeping’ is not relevant here as it pertains to inter-state conflict, or genocide, such as the genocides that took place in the Former Yugoslavia, and the Congo, where UN peace-keeping forces were deployed to protect the peace. What should have been the issue for discussion at this ‘failed’ conference is the issue of gross human rights violations that have persistently taken place over thirty years by the IRI government against its own people.

The IRI has the world’s highest number of executions per capita and more than 2000 death sentences have been handed down during this year alone, including continuing executions of minors, with more than 160 children on death row. More than 3000 Afghan refugees are awaiting execution; and more than 32 people are waiting to be stoned to death. IRI officials fervently deny the Holocaust, yet it was the Holocaust that served as the catalyst for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The IRI would deceive the world that it is a place where “no discrimination exists”; however, Iranian women are heavily subjugated by domestic laws, where a woman is worth half a man, and her freedom is subject to the will of her male partner/guardian.

These should have been the topics for discussion, which sadly were not. Such should have at least been addressed in the ‘Question and Answers’ session during the conference. Of course, the moderator dictated that questions are only permitted if they pertain to the topic about ‘peace’, and threatened to disconnect the microphone if this was not adhered to. It was hard to believe that such undemocratic practice of censorship was being conducted on Canadian soil - a one-sided and partial conference. Peace starts from home. Evidently, ‘peace-keeping’ had nothing to do with this conference.

Instead, the usual twisted rhetoric and threats were presented, in discussing ‘just peace’; such as the usual threats that ‘if you try to confront us, then there would be no peace’. Dr. Hosseini presented how the western communities are “all living in fear and Islamic culture is living in peace”. Careful, Dr. Hosseini, you forgot to mention that the very ‘peaceful’ IRI has women stoned, hungry people have their limbs amputated for stealing a loaf of bread; students and dissidents are executed for ‘insulting the Islamic sanctities’; and laws are passed to execute people who convert away from Islam (apostasy laws). But of course, Colonel Maillet did not want such issues discussed in his event as it could cause ‘war and violence’.

There were very few Iranians in the group, other than those who were mostly from the IRI embassy in Ottawa. Would it not have been in the best interests of democracy and justice to have had speakers from a variety of sectors of the Iranian community, providing everybody with the opportunity to participate?

Elizabeth May, leader of the Canadian Green Party, held

“This is not a happy event...If they’re not aware that they’ve put together a conference which is unbalanced, then they’re not paying attention. I hope they’ll cancel...We’re right now in the midst of pressing Iran to stop barbaric practices and show trials...This is hardly the time to be holding an event which in any way allows the Iranian regime to have any form of cover.”

Martin Rudner, former director of Carleton University's Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, said the event is “merely a floor show, a one-sided propaganda forum for an Iranian perspective on international affairs...It’s very one-sided,” he said. “There’s no other side”. Rudner referenced how the IRI regime has recently closed every social science department in Iranian universities because they have been regarded by the ruling clerics as centres of ‘Western influence’. “They have clamped down very strictly on freedom of thought, let alone freedom of expression.

Colonel Maillet’s asserted that the speakers had been stringently vetted and are not ‘terrorists’. Of course not, these are IRI spokespersons (mouthpieces) and not the actual policy-makers of the IRI, so security vetting would obviously result in the ‘no terrorist threat’ status of these personalities. If such spokespersons had a record of having even slightly questioned the IRI government, or had been in prison as a dissident, it is certain that they would not have been chosen by the IRI to present at such a propaganda-fuelled event. Interesting enough, such characters host these conferences in furthering the IRI government’s political agenda; however, no such event is held in the IRI in promotion of Western ideals. Alas, the IRI are all too ready to exploit the due process of the very same Western democracy they attack and criticize when they drone to an empty hall at the United Nations.

In an article posted by the Ottawa Citizen, Colonel Maillet argued “[we were] shocked when our own party turned against us...there has been an avalanche of e-mails internal to the party on this one”. This is the expected response when impartiality and democracy are overlooked, copycatting Amanpour’s interview [worshipping] with Mr. Ahmadinejad, when providing platforms to the IRI.

It is evident that such an event was established with the sole purpose of spreading the infectious lies of the IRI, through its endorsement of propaganda, facilitated by the manipulated arguments of ‘peace’, ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ presented by the ‘useful-misinformed’ who all too eagerly provide the advocates of oppression and misery a platform in the free and liberal West.

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