Bringing you the issues since 1986

View Online Print Edition


Editorial: Getting away with murder in Iran

March, 2011

Iranian-born Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada, has spent the last two years in an Iranian jail and there are persistent reports he is about to be executed.

He went back to Iran in the fall of 2008 to visit his father who was terminally ill, and was arrested on charges involving Internet pornography.

For months, he has languished in prison and he is not alone among those who face the wrath of a bloodthirsty regime that ignores international human-rights standards. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, an Iranian prisoner has been executed every eight hours in recent months. In mid-February, more than 40 exiled Iranian academics and intellectuals wrote an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon protesting against 47 executions since the new year, and expressing alarm that about 300 executions have been reported by various human rights organizations over the past year.

The Harper government, to its credit, has expressed outrage at what it called “disdain for the rights of Iranian and dual-national citizens” and the recent wave of executions, including the Malekpour condemnation for software he created that was considered offensive. Malekpour is among many facing “disproportionately harsh punishment for dubious offences, after a highly questionable legal process,” according to Foreign Affairs. And Iran has repeatedly turned down requests for visits and to provide consular assistance.

The recent and welcome series of popular uprisings in North Africa have succeeded in toppling autocratic and corrupt regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked grass-roots revolts in Libya, Bahrein and stirrings in Jordan, Morocco and elsewhere. The Arab street is rumbling, oppressive walls are crumbling, the masses are crying out for many for the freedoms we take for granted and it is our duty to speak out in their support.

This brings us to the campaign by Palestinian and Jewish Unity, supported by other leftist activists, to boycott stores on St. Denis that sell Israeli-made shoes. Dr. Amir Khadir, the Iranian-born Québec Solidaire member of the national assembly, helped propel the campaign into the mass media by his well-publicized participation this fall in a demonstration in front of the Le Marcheur shoe store, which sells Israeli-made Beautifeel footwear. He called for a boycott of the store, then seemed to apologize when he told The Gazette he sometimes displays “excessive zeal. And sometimes my words get away from me.”

With a lot of public sympathy being extended to the family-run store, the campaign appears to have shifted its focus to the original intention of forcing all St. Denis merchants to stop selling Israeli-made shoes, part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, campaign to end the occupation by Israel of land it seized following the 1967 war. Meanwhile, Khadir was the only MNA to deny consent to a resolution condemning the boycott campaign.

While we oppose BDS as punishing people like the workers who produce the goods and families like the Archambaults who sell them, we question the relative scale of values when well-intentioned politicians like Khadir choose their campaigns. Yes, Khadir and his wife, Nima Machouf, have denounced Iranian human-rights abuses, but not lately in any public way that would be reflected in the mass media.

It hasn’t made much progress lately, but there is a continuing peace process that hopefully will lead to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, sooner than later. At this time, Saeed Malekpour and the dozens of others on death row in Iran are much more deserving of moral leadership from Amir Khadir and others who oppose tyrannical regimes.



Post a Comment