Congratulations to the Free Thinking Film Society for bringing Iranium back, so to speak, to this hall tonight. Congratulations also to Heritage Minister James Moore for helping with the re-booking.
I have not seen Iranium. Each of us will decide what we think of it. You might have read the opinion piece on it in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen by John Mundy, Canada’s ambassador to Iran until 2007. It struck me as responsible.
Iran is a vitally important country. Its culture is thousands of years old; it has a long-suffering population of about 70 million, with almost two-thirds under the age of 30. Iranian increasingly should be distinguished from the regime in Tehran.
Virtually all Canadians oppose an invasion of Iran by anyone, but many of us seek effective sanctions that will effectively discourage Ahmadinejad from developing nuclear bombs. Iran has vast amounts of natural gas and oil; no-one can seriously doubt that the only reason he seeks nuclear energy is to build nuclear weapons.
Iran now has the highest number of executions per capita in the world. More than 2000 death sentences were handed down last year alone, with approximately 160 children now on death row. More than 3000 Afghan refugees are awaiting execution; more than 32 Iranians are waiting to be stoned to death; the highest number of journalists in detention exists in Iran; human rights activists and defense attorneys face daily intimidation.
The regime is intensifying the persecution of its people for their faiths. The Iranian parliament adopted a mandatory death penalty for "apostasy." Among its primary targets is the gentle Baha’i community. Most of those prosecuted for apostasy are Muslims.
The inclusion of the Iranian opposition group, the PMOI/MEK on the terrorism list in Western countries was one result of a misguided appeasement policy in many capitals and a misinformation campaign by Iranian lobbyists. The listing also provided an excuse for Tehran to increase suppression on the Iranian opposition. Now that all EU countries have removal it from their terrorist lists, no more time should pass before its removal from the Canadian and U.S. terrorist lists.
In short, Canada should encourage the establishment of the rule of law and representative democracy in Iran. Hopefully all of you will tell your own MPs what you think on this important global security and human dignity issue.