Canadian-Iranian academics and former dissidents have written a letter to candidates in Canada’s election calling on Ottawa to work for the release of Iranians jailed for their activism, and to maintain the country’s emphasis on human rights in its dealings with the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran.
“Electoral excitement and battles reflect the process which we, as Iranian-Canadians, enjoy and cherish,” they write. “A free and fair election is one of many rights and freedoms of which we are deprived in our native country of Iran.
“That is why we, as members of Iranian-Canadian community with various political orientations, believe that Canada has to uphold its values and principles regardless of the outcome of the elections. We hold firm the belief that nothing should fade Canadian support of human rights in Iran.”
The letter asks the election’s winner to “seek justice for Zahra Kazemi,” an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who they say was killed in an Iranian regime prison. “Two Canadian residents,” they add, “Mostafa Azizi and Saeed Malekpour, remain in prison in Iran after being convicted in unfair trials.”
They urge the new premier to “follow-up seriously and act firmly on [the] human rights situation in Iran. We hope that one day Iranians will have the same rights and freedom which Canadians are enjoying today.”
The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, Labor leader and the frontrunner in Monday’s election Justin Trudeau, and the New Democratic Party’s Thomas Mulcair.
Among the signers, two are described as a “former political prisoner in Iran.” Several professors are also signatories, including York University economics professor Farrokh Zandi and University of Toronto civil engineering professor Mahsen Ghafghazi.