AI Chief: Amnesty International is more and more concerned about the serious worsening of the human rights approach of this government.
Human rights issue is one of the most important subjects dealt with in the contemporary international law and most of the world countries stress that they observe human rights.
Within the framework of the international law, human rights violation is the strongest accusation that could be leveled against a country. Some 75 percent of the world countries have joined the International Convention on Human Rights and have accepted to implement their related international legal obligations, while the rest of the world countries have more or less recognized the content of that convention and announced that they would abide by it.
Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States are among the countries that by resorting to various methods persistently claim to be defendants and flag-bearers of basic human rights and freedom throughout the globe. By employing hypermedia and playing psychological games, these countries have portrayed themselves as role models of law-abiding countries on the one hand, but on the other hand these so called human rights defendants have no ability to establish the lowest level of rights for their own citizens while at the same time the world is witnessing the annihilation of moral values in these communities.
Despite having different views, most countries have recognized human rights as an undeniable requirement of the contemporary life. However, the powerful countries are presently making efforts to manipulate such human-related issues. Western countries led by the United States are doing their best to mask injustices and discriminations in their respective territories by employing their media power, while at the same time they magnify the tiniest cases of human rights violation in the rest of the world.
The human rights issue for the big powers has turned into a tool to pressurize other countries. Therefore, every now and then, they widely circulate reports on cases of human rights violation in countries where efforts are being carried out to be independent and deny domination by the West.
Cases of human rights violation in Canada
Canada is a North American country that is trying to portrait itself as the earthly heaven through publicity and media hype. It grants citizenship to asylum-seekers and to the nationals of the developing and underdeveloped countries, while at the same time, it drastically violates the rights of these same people once they become Canadian citizens (Human Rights Violation in Canada, Fall 1388 (2009) published by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Foreign Ministry).
Cases of human rights violation against Iranian-Canadian citizens
A court in Toronto, Canada, sentenced Mahmoud Yadegari, an Iranian-born Canadian, to ten years of imprisonment and $500,000 of fine on charges of shipping materials and devices to Iran that Ottawa claimed they could be used in nuclear technology. He has been in prison since April 16, 2009.
According to the Canadian daily National Post, Yadegari’s wife and child have returned to Iran and no relative or friend attended the court during his trial.
Also, Toronto Star wrote that Yadegari had talked to two Canadian police officers about the accusations the day he was arrested.
He has said in the court that they (the police officers) have threatened him to bring charges against his wife and send his child to custody if he didn’t talk to them.
Yadegari has also said that he was forced to confess to the commitment of the crime under the police pressure and he had no other choice under that condition.
Canada hinders issuing visa for the families of Iranian students
It is already several years that the Canadian government applies severe rules for issuing visas for the spouses of the Iranian students who are studying in Canada. Even for issuing tourist visas, the Canadian officials oblige them to go and wait in front of their embassy buildings for a long period of time and then they send them home empty-handed. In many cases, they do not issue visas for the parents of Iranian students. They seemingly intend to impose more and more restrictions on the Iranian students in Canada. Sometimes, they make the life so difficult for them that they prefer to leave behind everything unfinished and return home abruptly. At least 30 married Iranian students studying in Canadian universities could never get visas for their spouses despite every effort they made. This happened in conditions that according to the Canadian law and in line with respect for the basic human rights, all foreign students, irrespective of their nationalities, are entitled to visit their immediate family members within the Canadian territory. The Iranian students’ efforts during several past months to protest to their undesirable conditions have culminated in no result. Some 500 Iranian-Canadian students signed an internet-based petition and sent to the Ottawa political leaders in which they protested against discrimination in issuing visas for Iranians, even for those individuals who are known for being critical of the present Iranian government.
No job for Iranian Canadians
In a survey carried out in 2006 at a national level in Canada on "the condition and specification of the job market in Canada”, the result of which published in 2007, there are certain interesting points about the situation of Iranian Canadians in the job market in Canada.
According to the survey, the highest unemployment rate among immigrants in Canada during the first five years of their stay belongs to Iranians, or 19.7 percent among the age group 25-54 years in 2006. Only North Africa has a higher unemployment rate. Such a high unemployment rate among Iranian Canadians was registered in condition that the unemployment rate among the Canadian-born citizens was 4.9 percent for the same age group, or the lowest rate in recent years. In other words, the unemployment rate among the newly-arrived Iranians was five times more than among the Canadians and almost twice as much as other immigrants in the same year, which was 11.5 percent. The above figures indicate an unequal job opportunity for foreign nationals including Iranian Canadians.
Human rights violation against Muslims and indigenous people in Canada
Critical report by the Amnesty International on human rights situation in Canada (June 2010):
In its annual report of 2009, the Amnesty International accused Canada of not providing the basic rights of the indigenous women and imprisoned immigrants. Covering the cases happened between January-December 2009, the report said that there were continuing concerns about the failure to ensure prompt and impartial resolution of disputes over land and resource rights. For instance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about plans to construct a gas pipeline through lands in Alberta over which the Lubicon Cree continue to assert rights. The Alberta Utilities Commission ignored these concerns when it approved the project.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission ordered an inquiry into a complaint about disparity in funding for Indigenous child protection agencies.
The government continued to assert that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was inapplicable in Canada because Canada had voted against its adoption.
The Amnesty International report also reiterated the role of the Canadian military forces in torturing the Afghan prisoners and to the miserable condition of Omar Khadr, the only Canadian prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. Khadr was captured and transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2002 when he was only 15 and he has remained there without being tried. The report has also criticized the Canadian government for the lack of legal means for imprisoned immigrants and asylum-seekers to defend themselves and for having no access to the existing documents and evidences against them. The report further pointed out the case of an immigrant who was killed by a policeman.
Report by the Amnesty International Secretary General regarding human rights violation in Canada (August 2010):
Amnesty International's secretary general, Salil Shetty, accused the Canadian government of a "serious worsening" of human rights in Canada.
"Amnesty International is more and more concerned about the serious worsening of the human rights approach of this government," Shetty said in a speech to the CIVICUS world assembly on citizen participation.
"There is a real shrinking of democratic spaces in this country... Many organizations have lost their funding for raising inconvenient questions," he added.
"You expect more from Canadians... I think there is a growing gap between the values and the track record of Canada historically and the actions of the current government, which is deeply concerning."
Shetty also pressed Ottawa to seek the repatriation of Canadian Omar Khadr, the last Westerner to be held at the US naval base in Guantamo Bay, Cuba.
Khadr was arrested for lobbing a hand grenade that killed a US sergeant during a 2002 attack in Afghanistan.
"He was a child when he was arrested, 15 years old, (and) sent to Guantanamo Bay," he said, calling Khadr's detention "unlawful" and his trial "unjust."
Canada's refusal to sign on to international treaties and the government's handling of the recent arrival in Canada of a ship with an almost 500 Tamil refugees on board are worrying examples of a new trend that has risen the anger and dissatisfaction of the Amnesty International chief. In a speech addressing the issue, Shetti strongly criticized the Canadian authorities for their military confrontation against the issue and for naming the asylum-seekers as terrorists.
Mr. Shetty noted that Canada is not the only country that treats asylum-seekers in this way but that his anger is because the expectation of the public opinion in Canada is sometimes very high. In conditions that we have higher expectations from the Canadian government, the country’s authorities do not observe human rights.
"Generally speaking if you talk to most Canadians, there’s a big gap between what they believe Canada does and what the reality is in terms of government policy and actions,” Shetty said in an interview. "You could predict where Canada stood on many of the issues in the past and now you can’t be sure,” he added.
Indigenous, Muslim Canadians are more than others targeted by racism (March 2010):
From every three Canadians, one believes that the indigenous and Muslim Canadians in Canada are more targeted by racism than any other groups there. In a poll conducted by the CBS network in 2010, it was revealed that 28 percent of those who participated in the poll said that they also believed that Pakistani nationals as well as East Indians are under discrimination while 20 percent of the participants said that the originally African people were discriminated too. One tenth of Canadians believed that Jews, Chinese and English-speaking Canadians residing in Quebec, too, were also under discrimination. Moreover, French-speaking Canadians residing in other provinces suffer a similar situation, but more limited.
No government services to Muslim women wearing niqab in Quebec province (July 2010):
Quebec local parliament ratified a law forcing the Muslim women to remove veil from their faces when using government facilities.
Quebec was the first Canadian province to get involved in the issue in conditions that the federal government has always avoided it due to reactions shown by everybody.
The decision by the health ministry of Quebec province not to render services to veiled Muslim women is in contradiction to the existing laws in Ontario province.
Niqab or veil has become a big issue in Canada after French-speaking Quebec province banned it in March 2010, denying all government services to women wearing the veil.
The action followed protests triggered by an Egyptian immigrant's refusal to remove her niqab in her French language classes in Montreal, forcing the school and the provincial government to throw her out. It was the first such step in North America to curtail any religious dress.
Under new legislation before the national assembly, niqab-wearing women will have to remove their religious veil before seeking provincial government services. The bill applies not only to government departments, but hospitals, schools, universities and day-care centers that receive funding from the province.
Contrary to its claims of being an advocate of human rights, Canada is in fact a human rights violator that interprets the issue in line with its own benefits and based on its own perception.
The Canadian government has a double-standard approach towards human rights issue and aims at exploiting it as a tool to put other countries under pressure. It is obvious that the cases of human rights violation against Iranian Canadians have rarely been exposed due to the fact that they are being denied of their social rights or simply are afraid of being expelled. The Canadian government, more often than not, exerts pressure on the asylum-seekers, including Iranians, to commit the act of treason against their country of origin if they wish immigration licenses be issued for them.