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Human Rights Abuses in Iran

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I also rise today to draw your attention to the plight of three Kurdish journalists imprisoned in Iran: Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, Kamal Sharifi and Adnan Hassanpour.

Mohammed Sadiq Kaboudvand was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to serve nine years and ten months in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. As founder of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and editor of a weekly publication called Payam-e Mardom — The Peoples' Message — he was accused of "acting against national security," spreading "propaganda. . . ," "opposing Islamic penal laws. . ." and "advocating on behalf of political prisoners." Similarly, Adnan Hassanpour was arrested in 2007 on comparable charges. His death sentence was reduced to a 15-year prison term to be served in the Zahedan central prison.

Finally, Kamal Sharifi was first arrested by Iranian authorities in 1989, accused of membership in Kurdish opposition groups. He is serving a 30-year sentence in the Minab Prison.

These journalists have reported cruel and degrading treatment, torture and periods of prolonged solitary confinement. They have reportedly been denied adequate medical treatment in addition to their right to furlough.

Ranked 169 out of 180 countries by the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, such are the ongoing practices perpetrated against journalists and human rights defenders in Iran.

Also among them in prison, members of religious and ethnic minorities are the most persecuted — and not only in prison. I want to note, again, the Baha'i community, which has been one of the most oppressed religious minorities in Iran, their faith still unrecognized by the Iranian constitution.

Numerous Baha'i community leaders have been arrested on charges relating to "disturbing national security."

Honourable senators, it is Canada's responsibility to insist that Iran uphold its commitments to freedom of thought and expression under international human rights law. I urge all senators to join in condemning the systematic persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and to call for the immediate release of the unjustly imprisoned activists and journalists in Iran.

I want to thank Senator Frum for putting a face on the statistics that we often hear from Iran. This continued annual inquiry in the Senate is an important way of showing the people of Iran that we are with them in their struggle and that we continue to urge Iran, if it wishes to be part of the world community, to adhere to international standards for human rights and respect for the rights of their citizens.