I know many of us in the Iranian Canadian community are extremely concerned about the re-establishment of Canada-Iran relations as well as the possible re-opening of the Islamic Regime Embassy in Ottawa.

It is crucial at this time that we make sure our voices and concerns are heard both by the Canadian Government and the Canadian Media, which is why it is imperative for everyone of us to take the appropriate steps to make sure the Canadian Government hears our voices as loudly and clearly as the voices of Iranians who are lobbying for the re-establishment of relations and especially re-opening of the embassy. What can you do to make a difference?

1. Contact your local Member of Parliament and Provincial Member of Parliament by phone, email or by meeting them personally and speak to them about your concerns. Remember MP’s and MPP’s are generally very receptive and sensitive to the concerns of their constituents, so please take the time to contact them.

2. Contact the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and voice your concerns both with respect to the human rights issues in Iran and any safety and security concerns you might have about the re-opening of the embassy.

3. Contact the Canadian Media! Tv, radio, print media as well as online media are excellent sources for bringing awareness about the human rights situation in Iran, raising concerns about Iran’s support for international terrorism and concern for safety and security of Iranian Canadians and their families in Iran if the Embassy was to re-open. Take the time to contact reporters who have written or reported on this issue before.

4. Write English articles and share on online media as well as social media. Remember while Facebook and Twitter are excellent tools for raising awareness, to make a real difference we need to take our concerns to the Canadian Government and the Canadian Media. Please take the time to do so.

Together we can make a difference, please start taking action today!

Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Canadian Lawyer, Blogger and Pro-Democracy Activist.

Jafar Azimzadeh, is an Iranian prominent labour activist who was arrested in November of 2015 and sentenced to a six year prison term for his peaceful involvement in Labour Rights Activities. Mr. Azimzadeh went on an indefinite hunger strike three (3) weeks ago in order to protest Islamic Regime's criminalization of peaceful labour activities.

In an open letter Mr. Azimzadeh co-authored with an imprisoned teacher activist Ismail Abdi they demanded the removal of the charge “associating and colluding with intent to act against national security" from the open files of all imprisoned protestors and activists including themselves.

Among Mr. Azimzadeh demands are the end to low and below poverty wages of workers in Iran, an end to the ban by the Regime to mark and celebrate International Workers Day as well as Teachers day as well as an end to the ban against forming independent labour unions.

Mr. Azimzadeh is currently imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison and has been on a hunger strike which has greatly deteriorated his health.

The Islamic Regime in Iran must release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and it must stop violating the rights of workers & teachers immediately!

Canada must continue to hold Islamic Regime accountable for its systematic and brutal human rights violations and urge Iran to upheld the rights of its own citizen.

قدردانی از فعالیتهای ۴ زن ایرانی کانادایی در سنای کانادا

هما ارجمند- نازنین افشین جم- سایه حسن- شبنم اسداللهی شهروند- مجلس سنای کانادا در جلسه سه شنبه ۱۰ می ۲۰۱۶ خود به نقض حقوق بشر توسط رژیم اسلامی ایران اعتراض کرد و خواهان آزادی زندانیان سیاسی، شد. خانم سایه حسن وکیل برجسته جنایی و فعال دموکراسی خواه است که ضمن همکاری با ایرانیان و دیگر کنشگران ملیت‌های گوناگون در راستای دفاع از حقوق بشر و دموکراسی در سرزمین نیاکان خود گام برمی‌دارد. او از طریق وبلاگ خود که در پی یافتن راه هایی برای تغییر بدون خشونت رژیم در ایران است، با بسیاری از سازمان‌های حقوق بشر و دموکراسی خواه در تماس است. او در کنفرانس‌ها و برنامه‌های رادیو تلویزیونی و رسانه های چاپی بسیاری در کانادا شرکت کرده است. http://www.shahrvand.com/archives/72124

Canadian Senate raises awareness about the plight of Iranian political prisoners:

This month, the Federal Conservatives in Canada held Iran Accountability Week 2016, which was organized by Senator Linda Frum and MP Tony Clement. Around the same period of time, the Canadian Senate held an Iran Inquiry that reported on the systematic human rights violations committed against political prisoners within the Islamic Republic of Iran. A number of Senators from across the political spectrum in Canada presented information about the dire plight of Iranian political prisoners.

http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/world-news/around-the-globe/canadian-senate-raises-awareness-about-iranian-political-prisoners-21127

My recent article "Elections mask brutal reality of life in Iran" which was published by The Hill Times on March 14th 2016, where I discuss why Canada should continue to exercise extreme caution in dealing with Iran and should maintain sanctions against elements of the regime implicated in the sponsorship of terrorism and the abuse of human rights.

TORONTO—On June 15, 2013, The New York Times declared effusively that the election of Hassan Rouhani represented the victory of “a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms.” One year into his presidency, 411 Iranians had been killed in a six-month spate of executions carried out by the regime in Tehran, often in gruesome public ceremonies. According to the UN report on which these shocking statistics are based, offenders guilty of “adultery,” drug possession, alcohol consumption, and “enmity against God” are all eligible for the death penalty.

Readers will therefore understand my skepticism in response to headlines this past week proclaiming a “reformist” victory in the recent Iranian parliamentary elections. As history demonstrates, such a scenario is impossible under Iran’s election laws, which require all candidates to be vetted in advance by Iran’s staunchly repressive Guardian Council. Reports have revealed that the Guardian Council disqualified some 60 per cent of all prospective candidates, including 99 per cent who could be categorized as “reformists.”

These denuded “reformist” factions then proceeded to back a number of appalling but approved candidates for the Assembly of Experts, which will be tasked with choosing the country’s next supreme leader. This includes two former intelligence ministers alleged to have organized the killing of political dissidents, radical clerics with virulent anti-Western agendas, and another cleric who has endorsed violence as a means to force Iranian women to adhere to dress codes.

This is not to disregard the many pro-democracy activists working to bring about democratic change and respect for human rights in Iran. But the tragic reality is that they are either imprisoned, working fearfully underground, or—like me—living abroad. There is no place for meaningful dissent in the Islamic Republic, and the recent election reaffirms this unfortunate reality.

Having fled Iran in the 1980s with my family, I have spent years raising awareness here in Canada about the regime’s ongoing human rights abuses. I regularly explain to my colleagues that, as in many autocratic states, there is a world of difference between the Iranian people and the regime. The people of Iran are remarkably educated, moderate, and engaged with the world. In stark contrast, the regime is a regressive theocracy with an expansive structure of oppression in Iran and a ruthless, hegemonic agenda for the region.

Tehran works systematically to identify and destroy any source of potential challenge to its rule and agenda. The regime also targets any community that undermines its utopian vision of a Shia theocracy—including LGBT and Baha’i citizens, as well as Christian pastors the regime believes could entice Muslims to convert.

What far too many in the West fail to recognize is that superficial elections—which represent the transfer of nominal power to the people on a limited basis—are not only consistent with an authoritarian theocracy. These “democratic” exercises are central to the regime’s efforts to manage public discontent at home and alleviate Tehran’s public relations challenges abroad. The international community must send a united message to the regime that it will never enjoy global legitimacy so long as it restricts public office to a select group of candidates, rejects pro democracy candidates, jails political dissidents, and imposes archaic religious laws that victimize women, religious minorities, and LGBT Iranians.

For its part, Canada should continue to exercise extreme caution in dealing with Iran and should maintain sanctions against elements of the regime implicated in the sponsorship of terrorism and the abuse of human rights. For as we have seen in countless troubled parts of the world, a ballot box can be a convenient prop for a decidedly undemocratic state to deflect attention from an insidious record.

Sayeh Hassan is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto and a pro-democracy activist fighting to change Iran’s Islamic regime.

http://www.hilltimes.com/2016/03/14/elections-mask-brutal-reality-of-life-in-iran/54183

The Islamic Regime in Iran has arrested 8 women for “un-Islamic” acts namely posting photos of themselves on social medial without wearing a head scarf.

Among those arrested is a model Elham Arab who is well known for modelling wedding dresses and posting pictures of herself on social media without the head scarf. The arrest of these 8 women is part of a greater crackdown on at least 170 other women who have not yet been identified.

This is further example of how oppressive the government of Hassan Rouhani, the so called “moderate” President really is. I hope to see human rights organizations; in particular feminist groups and women’s rights groups stand in solidarity with the Iranian women and don’t remain silent in the face of such oppression and injustice. Iran Cracks Down On 'Un-Islamic' Modelling

Yukon Senator Calls for the Release of Iranian political prisoner Amir Amirgholi and salutes four Iranian-Canadian women for their work in promoting human rights

11 May 2016, Ottawa, ON – Yukon’s Senator, Daniel Lang joined his colleagues in the Senate on Tuesday in calling attention to the human rights abuses in Iran and the detention of numerous political prisoners. Specifically, Lang raised the plight of Ali Amir Amirgholi, a 33-year-old human rights activist and former university student who is currently held in Ward 8 of Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

According to one survivor of the Evin Prison, Ms. Shabnam Assadollahi: “There is only one experience worse than being tortured; having to listen to others scream and beg, not for their lives but for their death. . . . At night, I would count around 60- 70 bullets, which meant 60 to 70 souls had been executed and I was hearing the last shot they would give the victim in the head.”

Senator Lang noted that “despite Amir's being a prisoner of conscience, he is reportedly being held in a cell with dangerous prisoners who suffer from life- threatening diseases, rather than a cell for political prisoners. Colleagues, if the Iranian authorities have their way, Amir will be a prisoner for the next 20 years, if he survives his confinement.”

The Revolutionary Court in Tehran, presided over by Judge Salavati, sentenced this non-violent activist to a 21-year prison term on the basis of outlandish charges, such as insulting religious sanctities, insulting the supreme leader and propaganda against the regime. In 2014, The Guardian, in the U.K., identified Judge Salavati as one of Iran's most corrupt judges owing to his leading role in cracking down on free speech and pro-democracy activities.

Through his peaceful activism in 2014, Amir was defending the human rights of Iranians and participated in a peaceful protest outside the United Nations' office in Tehran in solidarity with the people of Kobane, Syria, who were then under siege. A couple of months later, Amir was arrested by Iranian authorities and transferred to a solitary confinement cell in Evin Prison, where he endured two months of interrogation and torture.

Lang noted that “In light of this torture and the unreasonable political sentence of 21 years in jail for standing up for democracy and human rights, and countless similar human rights abuses in Iran, I call upon the Senate to pay close attention to the human rights abuses in Iran, and particularly the plight of imprisoned pro-democracy activists like Amir Amirgholi. Mr. Amirgholi is a courageous man, not a criminal, one who is willing to sacrifice his life to stand up for what is right and just.”

In addition to raising the case of Mr. Amirgholi, Lang saluted the work of four Iranian Canadian women, Ms. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Ms. Homa Arjomand, Ms. Sayeh Hassan, and Ms. Shabnam Assadollahi, all of whom were very fortunate to escape to Canada from the Ayatollah's Iran and are actively leading efforts nationally and internationally to promote Human Rights and democracy.

Ms. Nazanin Afshin-Jam is an international human rights activist and author and co-founder of Stop Child Executions. She has utilized her role as a pageant winner to become a voice for those who need to be heard. She continues to champion causes, which makes all Canadians proud.

Ms. Homa Arjomand continues the struggle for freedom, supporting Iranian children's and women's rights. She also works with battered women and girls in Canada through the Let's Talk program with abused children. She is also the coordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari'a Court in Canada. Ms. Arjomand appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence last year during our study on radicalization and threats to Canada. She was most eloquent in her presentation and in describing her escape from Iran to a UN refugee camp and then on to Canada.

Ms. Sayeh Hassan is a prominent criminal defence lawyer and pro-Iranian democracy advocate who collaborates with Iranians and other transnational activists to advance the cause of human rights and democracy in her oppressed ancestral homeland. Through her blog focusing on the pro-democracy movement and regime changes in Iran, she stays in close contact with activists in Iran and retains contact with various human rights and pro- democracy organizations abroad. She regularly speaks at conferences and has appeared on television and radio and in numerous publications in Canada.

Lang noted that at the beginning of these remarks I described life in Evin Prison where Mr. Amirgholi is held. These words were from a brave survivor, Ms. Shabnam Assadollahi, who is here with us today in the gallery. Ms. Shabnam Assadollahi is an outstanding democracy activist who writes and broadcasts in Canada. Through her international network, she exposes clandestine Iranian influence activity in our country.

In conclusion, Lang stated “as we bring much-needed attention to the issues in Iran through this inquiry, let us urgently redouble our support for Ali Amir Amirgholi. In doing so, we salute courageous Canadian women of Persian heritage who are leading human rights efforts nationally and internationally to help bring attention to Iran's vile and brutal regime and the plight of individuals like Mr. Amir Amirgholi.”

Full statement: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/421/Debates/034db_2016-05-10-e.htm#41

Photo attached of the Honourable Daniel Lang and the Honourable Linda Frum, meeting with former Evin Prisoner and Canadian human rights activist, Ms. Shabnam Assadollahi in the Senate following the inquiry into Human Rights Abused in Iran.

-30- For more information, contact Senator Daniel Lang 613-947-6234

The Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau has once again reiterated that he would “normalize” relations with the Islamic Regime in Iran if the Liberal Party wins this year’s elections! Justin Trudeau has made it clear in the past that he has no issue with the dictatorship in Iran, which should not come as a surprise, given the fact that Mr. Trudeau seems to admire dictatorships including the dictatorship in China.

Mr. Trudeau seems to not have heard of the wave of executions which has taken place in Iran since the August of 2013, when the so called moderate Rouhani became the president. He must also have no information on the thousands of political prisoners including journalists, lawyers, students and religious and ethnic minorities who spend years in Islamic Regime prisoners for their “political crimes.” He must certainly not be aware of the systematic persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, women, students, teachers, workers, activists and homosexuals. He doesn’t know or he doesn’t care, but as an Iranian/Canadian pro-democracy activist either scenario terrifies me!

Canada has a large Iranian Canadian community which I am a part of. Many of us have been forced to flee from the Islamic Regime in Iran to save our own lives or the lives of individuals that we love. Many in our community have been imprisoned and tortured or have lost loved ones at the hands of this brutal regime! We consider Canada our home and safe haven, and respect Canadian values such as freedom and democracy. I feel safe and protected in Canada knowing that I can speak out against the Islamic Regime without being arrested, tortured, raped and possibly executed!

I was one of many Iranians that were thrilled when the Islamic Regime’s Embassy (the House of Terror) in Ottawa was shut down, as the Regime would no longer be able to use the Embassy to spy on and threaten dissidents in Canada or their families back in Iran.

Now it seems like Mr. Trudeau wants to roll back the clock, normalize relations and re-open the “House of Terror” in Ottawa. As a Canadian I am terrified of what Canada will become if the Liberal Party wins the elections and Mr. Trudeau becomes the Prime Minister. The fact that he wants to have normalized relations with the Islamic Regime in Iran is a clear indication that he is willing to turn a blind eye not only to the grotesque human rights violations the Regime is responsible for, but also to the Regime’s financial support for international terrorism and its dangerous nuclear ambitions!

If Mr. Trudeau wants the Iranian-Canadian vote he will have to engage the Iranian pro-democracy movement instead of the dictatorship in Iran, and he will have to prove that he is a supporter of freedom and democracy, not tyranny and brutality!

Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Canadian lawyer and pro-democracy activists fighting to overthrow the Islamic Regime in Iran

Saying No to Blood Oil

In the wake of devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, in which journalists, police, and Jews were targeted with ferocity, many are left bewildered by the fact that such violent acts could take place in one of the world’s most beautiful, open, and cosmopolitan cities.

Such brutality seems like the purview of dictatorships in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Islamic dictatorships. As someone who was born in Iran and forced to flee the country in the 1980’s, I know what it is like to live in a society crushed under the weight of theocracy. In Iran today, the regime regularly uses public hangings, torture by electrocution, flogging, and rape as tools to destroy dissent.

If Iran represents the dangers of a state run by extremist Shia Ayatollahs, Saudi Arabia reflects its equally radical Sunni counterpart. We know about the "Chop Chop Square" in Riyadh, where people are beheaded after Friday Prayer and peaceful activists are flogged for questioning Islam or advocating freedom and equality. Just recently, a young blogger and activist Raif Badawi was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and one thousand lashes by Saudi authorities for criticizing Islam and calling for reform and moderation. He is to be lashed fifty times every Friday after the Friday prayer for twenty weeks, a sentence befitting the medieval era. Badawi received the first fifty lashes on Friday, January 9th.

These and other atrocities around the world, including the slaughter of hundreds of innocents at the hands of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, evoke sadness – but rarely action – in the West. There is an unspoken sense that, after all, these are not our problems, they unfold in distant lands, and Islamic dictatorships, however brutal, do not affect our lives.

In ignoring the floggings, assaults, and beheadings, Western governments and consumers alike turn a blind eye to some of the worst human rights abusers in modern history. One can only conclude that cheap oil, which should aptly be called "blood oil", accounts for much of the absence of outrage (and in some cases outright appeasement of such states). A democracy like Canada, the United States, or Israel would never be able to get away with lashing a peaceful activist as is Saudi Arabia right now. That the Saudis are doing so openly, in the knowledge that Western governments will raise no real protest and Western media will fail to provide serious coverage, only speaks to the fact that cynicism and barbarism go hand-in-hand.

Meanwhile, the Islamic regime in Iran has managed to stall any kind of agreement on the nuclear issue, and just this week announced the construction of two additional atomic facilities. This is particularly egregious given that the P5+1 powers negotiating the nuclear issue had both extended the deadline for negotiations and provided sanctions relief for the regime. All of which is to say, a regime that regularly sponsors terrorism worldwide and abuses human rights at home probably cannot be expected to negotiate and uphold a nuclear agreement in good faith. Were it not for the immense oil revenues that have sustained the regime since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran would be in a fundamentally different position today.

We should not fail to see the link between international terrorism today and the oil-funded hubs of extremism abroad, particularly when it comes to Iran and Saudi Arabia. It should come as no surprise that the same countries that abuse their own people in the name of religion are among the primary sources of inspiration and funding for extremist Islamist movements, including terror groups. In so doing, they have ultimately laid the foundations of the same strain of violent extremism being fought in the streets of Paris this month.

As petroleum customers, Western nations ignore such brutal – and brutally obvious – facts at their own peril.

Sayeh Hassan is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto and a pro-democracy activist fighting to change Iran’s Islamic regime.

I refer to the Saudi Arabian oil as BLOOD-OIL because the wealth from the oil goes to support an extremist Islamic kingdom that lashes thinkers, activists and those who dare to question Islam. It chops heads and limbs in the so called "chop chop square" and their treatment of women is medieval! Yet Saudi Arabi is a close ally of many western countries precisely because of the BLOOD-OIL. It is shameful that most western countries have remained silent as has the main stream media while Raif Badawi a journalist will be lashed 1000 times in the next 20 weeks in the "chop chop square!"

Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, flogged:

When will we realize that the terrorist acts we have been witnessing most recently in Paris is rooted in the support of Western Countries for Islamic Dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and Iran?? Would Israel or Canada or the United States be able to get away with flogging someone 1000 in a public square?

My radio interview with Tommy Schnurmacher on CJAD radio about Islamic Regime's involvement in Gaza and what the international community needs to do to stop the Islamic Regime in Iran the threat that it poses worldwide:

http://www.cjad.com/Shows/TommySchnurmacherShow.aspx#tommy

My article published in the Toronto Star discussing Islamic Regime's involvement in the current Gaza Conflict and Iran's support for Hamas and its proxy war against Israel.

While media have widely reported on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, few have picked up on the significant Iranian connection to the conflict. Indeed, one cannot comprehend the events of recent weeks without an adequate understanding of Iran’s role in Gaza.

To begin, it should not be overlooked that many of the more than 1,000 missiles fired at Israelis in the past month were manufactured in Iran, transferred by Iran or built in Gaza with Iranian technology.

This includes, for example, the Iranian-built Fajr 5 and the made-in-Gaza M-75, both of which have a range of 75 kilometres. In 2012, Iran openly admitted to having given Hamas the technology to manufacture the M-75. These weapons have been a strategic game-changer for Hamas, allowing it to extend its range of attack to Israel’s two largest cities: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The longer-range M-302, which enabled Hamas to hit cities in northern Israel, was reportedly imported from Syria via Iran.

Hamas has long depended on the Iranian-Syrian axis for arms, training and funding. These resources have had serious implications for Gaza since Israel left the territory entirely in 2005, a move that opened a window of opportunity for a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state-in-the-making to emerge. Hamas and Iran quickly moved in and closed that window, with tragic implications for the people of Gaza.

A 2007 Hamas coup within the Palestinian Authority enabled the group to seize control of Gaza and proceed to build a remarkably advanced infrastructure of terrorism. The territory is now replete with tunnels, bunkers and underground missile launch pads. In recent days, Hamas even launched its own drones over Israel.

None of this would be possible without extensive funding from Iran. At one point, the government of Egypt revealed that Iran was funnelling upwards of $300 million annually to Hamas.

Additional numbers are equally staggering. Prior to Israel’s current operation, terror groups in Gaza possessed an estimated 10,000 missiles. Hamas operatives, many of whom were trained in Iran, now also number at least 10,000. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is even closer to Iran than is Hamas, boasts several thousand fighters in Gaza. Analysts have noted that the two factions have been competing to see which one can fire missiles deeper into Israel.

Despite a falling-out between Hamas and the Iranian-Syrian axis when the group moved its headquarters out of Damascus in the wake of the Syrian civil war, co-operation in fighting the common enemy, Israel, has resumed. As former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and a seasoned analyst of terrorist groups, Col. Richard Kemp, told AFP: “Hamas were very badly damaged by the Israeli Defense Forces back in 2012, but since that time they have been re-equipped significantly by Iran and also by weapons from Syria.”

Every missile made in Iran and fired by Hamas threatens Israeli civilians and puts Palestinian lives at risk by requiring Israel to take countermeasures. On that note, the news that Hamas is openly calling the people of Gaza to serve as human shields is particularly nauseating.

Iran’s mentorship of Hamas in Gaza is modelled on its development of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In both cases, Iran seeks to advance the Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East and support local groups willing to wage a proxy war with Israel. Unfortunately, those who pay the price for Iran’s destructive ventures are Israelis and innocent Palestinians alike.

As an Iranian-Canadian who has spent years raising awareness of human rights violations inside Iran, it grieves me that Tehran’s brutal agenda is now playing itself out in Israel and Gaza. Were it not for the Iranian regime’s extensive role in laying the foundation for the current war, the past few weeks may have been very different for Israelis and Palestinians. Those of us in the West who care about peace in the Middle East should recognize that Tehran’s fingerprints are all over the current round of violence.

Sayeh Hassan is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto and a pro-democracy activist fighting to change Iran’s Islamic regime. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/07/19/irans_fingerprints_all_over_hamasisrael_conflict.html

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