Canada must show resolve against Iran or children will continue to be slaughtered

Par Dr. Sima Goel le 20 février 2018

In Shiraz of 1978 when I was 13 and used to slip out of my house to protest the Shah’s corrupt government, I was never arrested nor hurt. Flash forward to January 2, 2018, an 11 –year- old boy participates in government protests in the small town of Khomeinishahr: he dies as a result. Nearly half a century later, and Iranian children still feel they have to march to get their leaders to listen to the people.

Iranians hoped that when President Obama lifted economic sanctions against Iran, inflation rates would drop, employment would rise and foreign investment and tourists would return to this country so wealthy in natural resources and potential; but under Rouhani’s government, the expected gains have not materialized. With the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp and the religious institutions still in control, corruption remains endemic and the people continue to suffer with a stagnant economy, high youth unemployment and the prices of basic foods at an all time high. 

Although I have lived most of my life in Canada, I was raised in Iran and I know the Iranian people; they will not quietly accept the economic constraints resulting from the country’s poor management. Ahmadinejad kept the people under control by heavily subsidizing the price of necessities, but under the Rouhani regime the expected benefits resulting from lifted sanctions have not materialized. The country’s heavily corrupt elite, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the religious groups are just too strong.

The current regime is convinced it has the key to paradise. Any opposition is evil and is believed to work in collaboration with Satan. Iran has funded terrorist attacks across the world and its main goal is to export its fundamentalist ideology, and to this end it has restricted the right of Iranians to the Internet and to international communication.

It is clear that lifting sanctions has not provided Iranians with improved access to basic goods, services and freedoms. Our Prime Minister must stand up together with other leaders in the civilized world and support the Iranian people in their quest for justice.  

To show support for the Iranian people, Canada must refrain from establishing diplomatic ties with Iran while the regime continues to censor the internet and prohibit its people from democratic protest. Canadians must support measures that allow Iranians to have free and secure satellite access and unrestricted communications inside Iran and with the outside world.

The Canadian government must pass measures in the spirit of the American “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act” -the  Magnitsky Act - which was  passed topunish Russian officials involved in the murder of a Russian tax accountant. As a result of the Magnitsky Act, those involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky were refused entry to American and to the American banking system. If Canada passes a similar bill, officials involved in the murder of innocent Iranians will face direct financial consequences, with a heavy impact on their ability to govern. In 2016 the American congress passed the “Global Magnitsky Act”, allowing the American Government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. Surely Prime Minister Trudeau, so impassioned in his defence of human rights, will see fit to propose a parallel bill in Canada so that Canadians can act on behalf of injustice in countries like Iran.

While there may always be a need for protest and demonstration, perhaps with foreign efforts, fewer 11 –year- old children need to die while protesting for their right to have access to affordable food and decent living conditions.

 Sima Goel is the Montreal-based author of 'Fleeing the Hijab: A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran' 


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