Iranian-Canadians in Ottawa question deal with Iran
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2015 5:07PM EDT
Iranian Canadians in Ottawa are questioning a deal that would limit Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Many of them fled Iran they say because of human rights issues and believe the Iranian regime is not to be trusted. Mina Patoo has made a good life for herself in Canada, running a little Iranian grocery store on Somerset. She left Iran 30 years ago, fleeing a country she says rife with human rights violations.
‘We see Iranians get killed in Iran every day,’ says Patoo, ‘there is no human rights, no freedom. They're against human rights in Iran so for the US to go ahead and do something like that is very disappointing.
Patoo is referring to that landmark agreement between Iran and the six world powers to lift economic sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear activity. Patoo doesn't believe that's going to happen. She's not alone in that belief.
‘There’s a lot of questions as to whether this is a good or bad deal,’ says Elliot Tepper, a Senior Fellow with the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. Tepper says the concern is that this agreement could lead to a nuclear arms race.
‘I am very concerned, as are others, that this will trigger a reaction in the region so that Saudi Arabia will become nuclear state,’ he says, ‘and what about their Gulf allies? They all have the money to do so.’
The Canadian government said while it appreciates the efforts to reach an agreement, it will judge Iran on its actions, not its words.
‘Iran continues to be a significant threat to international peace and security,’ Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement, ‘owing to the regime's nuclear ambitions, its continuing support for terrorism, its repeated calls for the destruction of Israel, and its disregard for basic human rights.’
Shahram Golestaneh with the Iran Democratic Association in Ottawa says Canadians need look no further than the murder in 2003 of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi.
‘It’s the 12th anniversary of murder of Zahra Kazemi,’ says Golestaneh, ‘still unsolved, still the regime hasn't come to the truth, it has not returned the body of Zahra Kazemi to Canada and human rights violations are rampant as we speak.’
Proof, he says, that Iran is not to be trusted.
The Iranian embassy in Ottawa remains closed. It has been closed since 2012 when Canada cut diplomatic relations and expelled its diplomats. For the foreseeable future, that situation is unlikely to change.