Iran, the new human rights defender?

Tehran takes aim at Canada’s treatment of its Aboriginals, in the wake of the Attawapiskat crisis

by Gustavo Vieira

On Jan. 3, Iran summoned Canada’s envoy to Tehran to protest Canada’s “blatant violation of human rights.” Tehran took aim at Canada’s treatment of its Aboriginals, in the wake of the Attawapiskat crisis. Three days later, on an Alberta radio show, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Iran “the world’s most serious threat to international peace.” This less than amicable exchange captures the current state of affairs between Canada and Iran, badly strained since the death of the Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in an Iranian prison in 2003.

“I couldn’t stop laughing,” says professor Saeed Rahnema, an Iran specialist at York University. “I mean, there are serious problems with Canada’s dealings with its indigenous peoples, but the Iranian regime is the very last government that could mention human rights. They couldn’t care less for human rights.”

Pointing fingers at Western countries to deflect pressure from abroad is common practice for Iranian diplomacy, and Canada, for years, has been at the forefront of the international push to improve Iran’s human rights record. The issue is at the top of a very short list of topics Ottawa will discuss with Tehran, which also includes Iran’s nuclear program and the episode resulting in Kazemi’s death. Canada-Iran relations have been severely limited for a long time, with Kazemi’s death sparking the downward spiral, says Reza Marashi, research director of the National Iranian American Council. But while Iran likes to amp up the rhetoric, it will also do what it can to avoid international isolation, says Marashi, including asking Canada to let it open consulates in cities like Vancouver. Ottawa has so far rejected the offer.




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Iran, the new human rights defender?

  1. I severely dislike the use of Aboriginal people as a deflective measure for a country that treats it’s own people so harshly.  The governance in Iran is so insufferably far from any Traditional Spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous people of Canada that it is completely obvious their intent is to call off attention to their own horrendous human rights issues.  I am of the opinion that Canada does not treat Aboriginal people with adequate consideration under Conservative policies, and that growth and the ability to move forward cannot come from negativity.  As far as I can tell, policies regarding Native people are approached the same way as their political campaigns.  With smearing other candidates and preying upon the population’s innate tendencies toward learned prejudice, as seen through the usage of the media to sway opinion in certain directions.  Hot button issues to deflect from their own negative behaviors or any unflattering truths.  Sounds a little like Iran…..strange!!!  Will anyone think about this for more than a moment?  Quick, mention something bad about someone else!

    As for Iran, yes they are certainly the largest threat to international peace.  They are certainly governed by a bunch of morons and their people are constantly suffering under radicals and religious fanatics.  Unfortunately, they are right about the human rights issue.  It is hard to concede when someone you dislike, who you find threatening, has a valid point.  If it is true and there is shame in that then it should be something that spurs an effort to make right the situation.   

    • Well ABC123 I know I will end up the bad guy for pointing it out, but here goes…

      I believe aboriginals have the same opportunity as non aboriginal citizens. To pursue an education and acquire a ‘marketable” skill that will ensure employment; and to go out into the world and earn a living. In fact since education is free for aboriginal students the playing field is decidedly tilted in their favor.

      To choose to live in a barren isolated community with no hope of employment and without the possibility of that changing will surely be reflected in your life and your lifestyle.

      Were a group of non aboriginal citizens to choose to do this, you would see upon investigation, federal and provincial support would be far less than any aboriginal group currently enjoys.

      The pursuit of a traditional way of life is not a genuine argument when it is supported by the use of a guaranteed income, guns, snowmobiles, central heating, satellite dishes, flat screen TV’s and air shipped groceries. None of these were present during the traditional life of Canadian aboriginals.

      While I truly agree the current situation is horrible for many aboriginals, I also believe all aboriginals have the option and the opportunity to change it.

      My apologies to anyone I have offended with this comment, I believe it to be true regardless of it’s politically incorrect nature.

  2. Cleargreen, you demonstrate the standard ignorant response.  Do you believe that all cultures do not have the same entitlements to present day technology, or is that only for certain groups and class levels?  I do not believe you are truly aware of what the word traditional means.  Do you really think Aboriginal people want to live in wigwams and teepees, hunting and cooking in birch bark baskets?  I don’t think you have the appropriate level of understanding to begin to comprehend what Native people are truly searching for.  I can only do so much for you, the rest of the available space for education is currently filled with your inundation by societal media brainwashing as well as the misinformation propagated by interest driven educational process.  Perhaps for Aboriginals living “off reserve” the pursuit of education seems much more accessible, and hard to understand what the problems are.  In case you are unaware there are full degree programs available for full understanding, and even then I am sure you would agree that a doctor is only sufficiently educated in his field and does not possess all knowledge but merely has completed degree requirements to fulfill program requirements.  For those living on reserve there are very few schools within a close distance that would allow for the close community relationship and “traditional” familial structure.  As for business, perhaps you are unaware that the Indian Act actually prohibits business ventures that allow an Aboriginal person living on reserve to operate a business that “competes” with a non-Aboriginal.  As for air shipped groceries , where do you suggest the Aboriginal people find their fresh fruits and vegetables?  Barren and isolated areas, where the Native people are reasonably free from discrimination and attitudes of superiority backed by a severe lack of understanding and racist approaches in their dealings with others makes sense to me.  Perhaps you are unaware also of the fact that Native people did not choose for their government to be structured this way, and suffered terribly for hundreds of years only to be offered this most measly of alternatives to death and complete genocide?  What appears to you as one thing might be culturally a completely different thing to another human being and I don’t think your lack of understanding is an isolated incident, but why don’t you ask your “educated” self why you are not more aware of one of the most fundamental issues of your own country and less biased in your responses?  Consider the possibility that it would not be convenient for a majority opinion to favor better relations with the Indigenous population.  

  3. Cleargreen, you demonstrate the standard ignorant response.  Do you believe that all cultures do not have the same entitlements to present day technology, or is that only for certain groups and class levels?  I do not believe you are truly aware of what the word traditional means.  Do you really think Aboriginal people want to live in wigwams and teepees, hunting and cooking in birch bark baskets?  I don’t think you have the appropriate level of understanding to begin to comprehend what Native people are truly searching for.  I can only do so much for you, the rest of the available space for education is currently filled with your inundation by societal media brainwashing as well as the misinformation propagated by interest driven educational process.  Perhaps for Aboriginals living “off reserve” the pursuit of education seems much more accessible, and hard to understand what the problems are.  In case you are unaware there are full degree programs available for full understanding, and even then I am sure you would agree that a doctor is only sufficiently educated in his field and does not possess all knowledge but merely has completed degree requirements to fulfill program requirements.  For those living on reserve there are very few schools within a close distance that would allow for the close community relationship and “traditional” familial structure.  As for business, perhaps you are unaware that the Indian Act actually prohibits business ventures that allow an Aboriginal person living on reserve to operate a business that “competes” with a non-Aboriginal.  As for air shipped groceries , where do you suggest the Aboriginal people find their fresh fruits and vegetables?  Barren and isolated areas, where the Native people are reasonably free from discrimination and attitudes of superiority backed by a severe lack of understanding and racist approaches in their dealings with others makes sense to me.  Perhaps you are unaware also of the fact that Native people did not choose for their government to be structured this way, and suffered terribly for hundreds of years only to be offered this most measly of alternatives to death and complete genocide?  What appears to you as one thing might be culturally a completely different thing to another human being and I don’t think your lack of understanding is an isolated incident, but why don’t you ask your “educated” self why you are not more aware of one of the most fundamental issues of your own country and less biased in your responses?  Consider the possibility that it would not be convenient for a majority opinion to favor better relations with the Indigenous population.  

  4. Actually Iran is trying to give things a little perspective because most of Canada’s Aboriginals are living in third world conditions.  And by that I do mean the poor in third world countries.  We see people in third world countries carrying their water over long distances.  We see that here too.  Only these long distances are in harsh winter conditions for much of the year.

    Aboriginal housing is deplorable and filled with disease and mould.  Tuberculosis in many communities is at the third world rate.  Education is failing and health care, though a huge cost to Canada, gets a failing grade.

    I truly wish that people would know a little more about Iran then the garbage the get from a media intent upon creating an atmosphere of hate toward Iran.  Another simple fact is that Iran has never posed a threat to any other country.  It has invaded no one in 200 years or more.  The western nations have proved to be much more a threat than Iran has ever been.  This is specially true of the USA which is always at war in an overt or covert manner all the time.

    Iran has it’s problems and its bad points, to be sure.  But it remains a beautiful country with beautiful people who do a lot of the same things we in the west do.

    But Iran has had its troubles beginning with Britain and its oil companies.  In the late 40s when Britain decided to upgrade its navy from coal to oil it entered into contracts with Iran.  But Britain did not live up to its end of the treaties and this upset many Iranians.  They, being a democratic nation in the 50s voted for Mossandegh as Prime Minister who had run on a plarform of nationalization of the British oil industry in Iran and worked toward Human Rights for its oil workers who were treated badly by the racist Brits.

    When Iran nationalized its oil the Brits via MI6 went to the USA’s CIA for aid.  The CIA set up a program of propaganda (much like they did in Chile leading up to the demise of a democratic government there).  With hired thugs pretending to be communists and a host of tactics brought down the government and made Iran a monarchy under the Shah who had been living in exile.  

    In 1957, with the puppet Shah in place, the CIA/terrorists created the secret police in Iran – SAVAK – with input from MI6 and MOSSAD.  The CIA remained in control of SAVAK until the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  In these intervening years the Iranian public was controlled by a vicious secret police with dead of the night disappearances, taking of people off the streets, assassinations and all that goes with CIA control including the throwing of activist students off of the roofs of their schools.  In much the same manner as we later witnessed in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador to name a few countries suffering the twisted minds of the CIA and cronies.

    In the 1979 revolution some activist students took American embassy workers hostage and the world media made a huge stink about the poor Americans!  No worries about the hundreds tortured and killed by the Americans in Iran.  Of course, that’s just a non-story, isn’t it?

    Following up on that Iraq (under American influence) invaded Iran for no reason whatsoever.  In 1981 the Reagan Administration helped sell arms to both sides of the conflict but mostly to Iraq where hundreds of advisers were made available as well as experts to train the Iraqi military in the use of American war machines and weapons.

    Reagan also managed to manipulate the embargoes upon Iraq at the time to allow a dual-use product sales for Iraq.  Dow Chemicals then sold Iraq insecticides which were easily converted to chemical weapons.  With American made helicopters as delivery machines 3,000 Iranians soldiers were killed with one chemical hit as they defended Iran upon Iranian soil.  This was a deadly war crime which included Iraq’s Saddam Hussein (a CIA asset since 1958) and Ronald Reagan the horror master in this huge war crime.

    After the Iranian Revolution Iran became a theocracy under the Ayatollah Komeini.  Since that time Iran has become a semi-democracy and under the guidance of Ahmedinajad who, like GW Bush, won a conversational election. 

    Once again, the west and it’s rather sad excuse for a media, is looking to attack and invade another country in the Middle East over the possibility of Iran creating its own nuclear device of which the western investigators say there is no evidence.  This is almost exactly the same plot line that led to the invasion of Iraq.  Remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction?  There were none but Iraq is devastated by a criminal war based upon blatant lies of the GW Bush administration.

    And, it would seem that our media is doing it again and the same people are being suckered once again.  Kind of makes “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story to fall apart.

    • I am highly impressed with your extensive knowledge about Iran and also your well written comments.  That is a subject about which I am only familiar through media, or casual conversations with Iranian friends.  I agree with you that the media is used to manipulate people to the advantage of the higher powers, and I believe that education is a powerful tool in the prevention of more war, I am especially against invasion of other countries.  I strongly feel that there are many problems here at home that could be fixed before we as a nation go on to push ourselves onto others where we may or may not particularly be wanted. It is foolish to think that we can continue to flourish while creating a hateful atmosphere all around the world, and I would be very grateful and proud to be a part of a country who lived up to it’s former great reputation of peacekeeper after it restores it.  It is embarrassing to be perceived as a tool of the U.S.  This is not to imply that I do not feel we are very tied to the U.S but only that we should work to maintain our autonomy. Our first order of business, aside from really working to repair and create positive relations with the Indigenous population, is to remove troops from any sort of invasive military action and have them put to work at home.  Our young men should not be fodder to push through some sort of agenda, disposable persons without due consideration.  Considering the sacrifice they are willing to make it should only be necessary under extreme conditions of threat to the homeland.  I don’t think I am alone in this opinion.  Our leaders are not sending their children over to fight in these initiatives, so why is it such an easy decision to send the children of others?  In Native culture children are the most precious and treasured resource of a nation, and they should be treated as such.  Warriors are revered and would never be asked to sacrifice their Creator(God) given lives if not in the service and protection of their people, whose leaders would also work to prevent unnecessary loss.  Another thing Johnsenrc, thank you for your comments regarding the deplorable conditions on reserves.  You are right about third world conditions, and in the midst of all affluence, so much so that consumers here pay thrice value :)  

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