December 13, 2018
Mr. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Ms. Hélène Laverdière, MP, Laurier — Sainte-Marie
Mr. Murray Rankin, Deputy House Leader, Critic for Justice – Victoria
Re: NDP position toward violation of human rights in Iran
Dear Mr. Singh, Ms. Laverdière, Mr. Rankin,
We, the undersigned, a group of Iranian-Canadian supporters and members of the NDP, are requesting clarification on the statement issued by Ms. Laverdière regarding the position of the NDP on Iran.
The statement has appeared on the website of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) in response to an article titled “NDP Does Not Side with the Islamic Republic [of Iran]” published in the Toronto-based Persian language Shahrvand weekly on November 29, 2018. The article detailed a meeting between the author and Ms. Laverdière on the policies of the NDP regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).
According to the ICC website, Ms. Laverdière stated: “I want to strongly reassure the board and members of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) that the opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect my views or the views of the NDP.”
There were a few direct quotes from Ms. Laverdière in the article. While the quotes seemed to reflect the position of the NDP regarding the IRI accurately, we were surprised to learn that Ms. Laverdière has denied saying them. The conflicting statements have confused us about where the NDP is standing concerning the ongoing violation of human rights in Iran. We, therefore, request Ms. Laverdière to specify which of the following quotes have been reported falsely and do not reflect her and the NDP’s views:
“It is a mistake to assume the NDP siding with the IRI.”
“The human rights issues in Iran have always been of the highest priority [for the NDP].”
“[The NDP] has always followed the issue of Saeed Malekpour [a Canadian resident in prison in Iran for the past 11 years].”
“The issue of human rights in Iran is not something that the NDP stands carelessly about.”
The rest of the article is the details of the author’s description of different factions within the Iranian community, the efforts made by a small but loud pro-IRI group to infiltrate the Canadian political parties including the NDP, and a suggestion that the NDP should develop an organic relationship with all different factions within the Iranian community. The article presents a positive image of the NDP.
In her statement, Ms. Laverdière continues “My colleagues and I absolutely wish to continue our work with the ICC. New Democrats stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Iran …” From our perspective, continuing to work with the ICC and standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people
are inconsistent positions. The former has become well-known for advancing the interests of the rulers of the IRI, while the latter, as we hear in the news, are joining a wave of strikes across the country by factory workers, teachers, and truck drivers. From our point of view, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people means defending brave human rights activists such as Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and Ms. Narges Mohammadi who are in prison together with hundreds of other civil, women, and minorities rights activists, as well as advocates for sexual orientation rights, street children protection, and the environment for their non-violent opposition to the oppressive rulers of the IRI.
We are proud that the party we support was the one that introduced the Motion in House of Commons on June 5, 2013, proclaiming the 1988 massacre of the political prisoners in Iran as constituting crimes against humanity under international law. Now that we are getting close to the next federal election, we wish to continue supporting the same party provided that it would publicly and unambiguously state its condemnation of the violations of human rights by the Islamic regime in Iran. We would love to hear from the party leader and the caucus members that standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people means standing united in solidarity with the striking workers, teachers and truck drivers for their unpaid salaries, that the NDP clearly and publicly condemns oppression of women and religious minorities, and supports the United Nations Resolution introduced by Canada condemning the IRI for its widespread and continuous violation of human rights. We would love to hear the loud and clear message that the progressive party of Canada will support the Iranian people’s legitimate demands for freedom, human rights, and democracy.
The Iranian-Canadian community of GTA has a population of more than 100,000. They are generally highly educated, politically active, and strong enough in a few ridings to influence the election results. Developing a direct relationship with different factions of the community is vital for the NDP. We invite you to attend a public meeting with the members of our community in Toronto and hear directly from them as a first step to establish such a relationship.