Address by Minister Cannon at Media Availability with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi

No. 2010/21 - Ottawa, Ontario - April 27, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It is a great honour for me to have met Ms. Shirin Ebadi. She said many years ago that any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but that she had learned to overcome her fear. Her commitment and dedication in standing up for the rights and dignity of the Iranian people are nothing short of extraordinary.

The first Iranian to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, which she received for her efforts for democracy and human rights, Ms. Ebadi is truly an inspiration to us all. That is why I am delighted that she is visiting us here in Canada, touring our country to speak to Canadians about the egregious human rights situation that persists in Iran.

There are many people of Iranian heritage who call Canada home, and who contribute to the success and prosperity of our country. We have the greatest respect for the Iranian culture and for the achievements of the Iranian people. It is of utmost importance to Canada that the Iranian people be allowed the rights and freedoms that Canadians hold dear.

Canada remains deeply concerned by the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran, particularly since Iran’s June 12, 2009, elections, and we continue to call on the Iranian government to allow its people to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled. Iran’s actions are an affront to human rights obligations, which all nations must respect.

We are supporting the efforts of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center to investigate and report on human rights abuses committed against civil society, media and citizens after last year’s election. We are also working with the international community to take Iranian authorities to task for their systemic human rights violations.

We have done so in the United Nations General Assembly. We have done so in the United Nations Human Rights Council, and we will continue to do so publicly at every opportunity.

On behalf of all Canadians, I urge the Iranian government to end its unacceptable harassment and intimidation of Ms. Ebadi and other human rights defenders like her. I would like to tell the people of Iran that Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with them, and with brave activists like Ms. Ebadi, who work to ensure that the people of Iran may live in dignity, free from persecution and from fear.