Notes for a speech by Hon. Deepak Obhrai, P.C., M.P.
At the Annual Grand Gathering of the Iranian Resistance.
July 1st 2017, Paris, France
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Conference Delegates,
Today is the 150th Anniversary of Canada. So let me begin by wishing my Canadian colleagues here and everyone back home in Canada a Happy Canada Day and a great 150th celebration.
Bonne Fête du Canada a tous!
Premièrement, je veux remercier aux organisateurs de cette conférence pour l’invitation de participer avec vous.
First, I would like to thank the organizers of this conference, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. You have brought together experts from around the world, who have drawn open a curtain on the unspeakable human rights violations that are continuing in Iran, and on the erosion of democracy in that country.
I also extend my thanks to the Canadian Friends for a Democratic Iran, for inviting the Canadian delegation to grace this occasion. I am pleased to be joined by MP Luc Berthold, former MP and my friend John Baird, and my former colleague and friend, Hon. David Kilgour.
For many years, David has provided leadership to this group and worked hard at ensuring that Canadians stand together with those who seek a democratic Iran.
Second, I would like to take a moment to point out how important it has been for me the issue of human rights in Iran over the past decade. As some of you may know, I was the longest serving Canadian Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights. In this capacity, my government took a very strong stand on human rights abuses and the lack of democracy in Iran. On many occasions, I refused to meet with the Iranian delegation at meetings. As someone who was responsible for consulate affairs in Canada, it was our government’s priority to free Iranian Canadians unjustly imprisoned in Iran. This is the plight of Zahra Kazemi, who was tortured and killed by Iranian officials.
I, as the first Canadian to hold this position, have closely monitored the evolution of the situation of human rights in Iran, both before and after the election of President Rouhani.
In April of 2013, I hosted the Iranian meet in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where we discussed the use of social media for the Iranian people.
In the past, I have worked closely with Dr. Ahmed Shaheed in his role as UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, and I know that he has taken his dedication and commitment forward into his new role as UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. We have all been lucky to have benefitted from Dr. Shaheed’s tireless work to bring to the world’s attention the systemic violations of human rights in Iran.
I am sure you would all acknowledge the strong leadership provided by Canada over the years on the situation of human rights in Iran.
Canada’s Parliament was the first in the world to recognize the 1988 massacre as a crime against humanity, in a unanimous motion in 2013. Furthermore, we have also established September 1st of every year as the day of solidarity with Iranian political prisoners. And I am ever proud to have been a part of this accomplishment.
Some bright spots, such as the election of President Rouhani have sent hope that the Iranian people would be able to enjoy more freedom. However, I have to say, we should take this news with caution.
The reason I am here is to give support to the National Council of Resistance of Iran. I thank you for taking up the cause of fighting for justice. You are an example to the rest of the world.
These regimes that use power to supress freedom have no place in the world community. Their fight will be long, but together, we will prevail.
I look forward to the constructive dialogues we will continue to have for the remaining of the conference, and beyond, and I thank you for your attention today.
Merci pour votre attention aujourd’hui!