SUPPORT US

In The Media

Opinion: Canada should aid Iranian minorities

by Kyle Matthews

The Gazette
June 10, 2014

MONTREAL — Iran is often in the news because of its suspected nuclear-weapons program. A nuclear Iran certainly poses a threat to international peace and security, which is why the international community imposed economic sanctions against Tehran. But what if the country’s nuclear agenda wasn’t the only threat to world stability?

The treatment and persecution of minorities within Iran is a serious problem that does not receive equal news coverage and scrutiny by the media. There are way too many prisoners of conscience rotting away in Iran’s prisons.

For the most part, these are intelligent and dedicated people who only wish to better their country, but whose voices are muffled by repression and imprisonment. Having views contrary to those of the government can be very costly. Even worse, simply choosing to practise a different faith than the state religion (its version of Islam) can lead directly to a prison sentence.

This is what has happened to thousands of Baha’is over the past few decades. The execution of more than 200 Baha’is in the mid-1980s spurred an international outcry that eventually led to a halt in killings. But the persecution of Baha’is has not stopped. It’s more insidious, and not as overtly shocking, but no less worthy of attention.

More than 100 people of the Baha’i faith are now behind bars, imprisoned solely on religious grounds. Among them are the seven leaders of this religious community. This spring marks the sixth year of their imprisonment, on false charges, and they are not about to get out. They all received 20-year sentences. The Baha’i community is Iran’s largest religious minority, and yet government policy seems designed to oppress all its members.

Equally troubling is that even their dead are not left alone. The Iranian government has recently authorized the excavation of a Baha’i cemetery in the southern city of Shiraz with the goal of building a sports complex. But the tombs in this cemetery are not ordinary. It is the final resting place of 10 courageous women who were executed for their beliefs in 1983, at the height of persecution against Baha’is in the country.

Many of the women were in their 20s, and one, Mona Mahmudnizhad, was just 17. She was killed by hanging, after being tortured.

Now, three decades later, her remains are being attacked, in what seems to be a continuing attempt to erase the memory of her and her cohort’s sacrifice. With laws in place that prevent Baha’is from attending university, it is difficult not to see these actions in Shiraz as being part of a larger strategy by the government to erase the symbols of the Baha’is from Iranian society, and to make life as miserable as possible for them.

While nukes capture the attention of national governments, and for good reason, we should also worry about the treatment of religious minorities and the importance of their security. How a country treats its own citizens is often a harbinger of what it intends to do outside its borders.

It is Canada’s responsibility to work toward strengthening international human-rights norms and assisting those suffering the denial of their basic rights. While most members of the international community agree that freedom of religion and liberty of conscience have to become valid human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is of prime importance that governments speak out regarding the contemporary persecution of the Baha’is in the country.

Faces and names matter when it comes to mobilizing public opinion against a regime that preys upon both the living and the dead.

Kyle Matthews is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. He lives in Montreal.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS

CONFERENCE
Annual Defence Procurement Conference

Ottawa, Ontario

October 25, 2022

SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

G7 Update

by Heather Hiscox (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC, June 30, 2022

Inside Policy: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), MLI, June 30, 2022

Canada to upgrade Latvia battlegroup to a brigade, boost number of troops

by Editorial Staff (feat. David Perry), Kelowna Now, June 29, 2022

What slowdown? Canada's economy to top G7 on high oil, crop prices

by Julie Gordon and Rod Gordon (feat. Kevin Birn), Saltwire, June 29, 2022

Alliance renforcée

by Céline Galipeau (feat. Stefanie von Hlatky), Le Tele Journal, June 29, 2022

1.6 million public chargers needed in Canada for EV transition

by Larysa Harapyn (feat. Brian Kingston), The Financial Post, June 29, 2022

Passport? What passport?

by Martin C. Barr (feat. Andrew Griffith), Laval News, June 29, 2022

Oil production test looms for OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia, UAE

by Editorial Staff (feat. Ellen Wald), S&P Global, June 29, 2022

Eric Nuttall & Amrita Sen - Oil & Energy Update

by Eric Nuttall (feat. Amrita Sen), Nine Point Partners, June 29, 2022

All talk, no traction

by Maura Forest and Andy Blatchford (feat. Robert Huebert), Politico, June 29, 2022

U.S. pushes for Russian oil price ceiling. Feasible?

by Matt Levin (feat. Ellen Wald), MARKETPLACE, June 28, 2022

Russia Ukraine Update

by Susan Bonner (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC Radio One, June 28, 2022

Un sommet de l’OTAN pour tenir tête à la Russie

by Marie Vastel (feat. David Perry), Le Devoir, June 26, 2022

A geopolitical alternative system of co-operation for nations

by Staff Reporter (feat. Swaran Singh), The Zimbabwe Mail, June 26, 2022

Analyst says high oil prices spurs little drilling

by Lee Harding (feat. Kevin Birn), Western Standard, June 26, 2022

It’s time for Canada to get serious about defence

by John Ibbitson (feat. James Fergusson and Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2022

Trudeau meets with Rwandan president, expands diplomatic mission in Kigali

by CBC Newsroom Staff (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Newroom, June 24, 2022

With New Threats Looming, Canada Commits Billions to Air Defense

by News Desk (feat. Andrea Charron), New Express News, June 24, 2022

Drop in oil prices is not a quick fix for global inflation

by Editorial Staff (feat. Amrita Sen), The National, June 24, 2022

Highs and Lows of the Spring Sitting

by Peter Van Dusen (feat. Andrew Griffith), Prime Time Politics, June 24, 2022

Oil Incurs Second Weekly Loss As Analysts Differ On Inflation, Demand

by Ship and Bunker News Team (feat. Amrita Sen), Ship And Bunker, June 24, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email