(No. 2 - January 1, 2011 - 12:15 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the state of human rights in Iran:
"As 2011 begins, I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. Iranians, like people everywhere, deserve to live in a peaceful country free of fear and persecution.
"I am particularly concerned by the uncertain fate of two Canadians of dual nationality who remain in prison in Iran. There have also been reports that Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident, has been condemned to death and that his sentence could be carried out at any time. Two young hikers, U.S. citizens Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, also remain separated from their families.
"Sakineh Ashtiani, as well as a Kurdish student activist, seven Bahá'í community leaders and a number of prominent lawyers, including Nasrin Sotoudeh, are also being detained. They are just a few of the many people in Iran who face harsh treatment and disproportionate sentences.
"Finally, recent reports that Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, has been sentenced to death for renouncing his Muslim faith are of grave concern to Canada, as this is a sign that the Iranian people do not enjoy freedom of religion.
"As we begin a new year, and indeed, a new decade, Canada hopes that Iran's incoming foreign affairs minister will encourage the country's authorities to show mercy and compassion to those who are in Iran's prisons without just cause. We call on Iran to respect its international human rights obligations in law and in practice and to foster a more open dialogue with the international community."
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