Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Ottawa on Wednesday to meet with Justin Trudeau and discuss a possible Extradition Treaty between Canada and China. While China claims the extradition would be geared towards “economic fugitives” I am greatly concerned that real targets may be Chinese dissidents who are currently living in Canada.

As well it is no secret that China is one of the worst human rights violators in the world with the highest rate of execution per capita in the world. There is serious concern surrounding China’s judicial process including rule of law and due process. The Chinese Government systematically arrests, imprisons and tortures peaceful Falun Gong practitioners and there is credible evidence that China may be killing Falun Gong practitioners in prison, and selling their organs for profit!

China is also known for its execution of non-political prisoners including those accused of “economic crimes”. Agreeing to an Extradition Treaty with China will put Canada in the position of sending people back to face torture and even execution which goes against Canada’s obligations not to extradite people who would be facing the death penalty.

Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the possible Extradition Treaty is that Prime Minister is doing it for economic gain only. Canada will not gain anything from an extradition treaty as China’s extradition law does not allow anyone of Chinese nationality to be extradited to a foreign country. Canada is only considering the extradition treaty in order to gain more favorable terms around Canola Imports!

If Justin Trudeau is willing to send people to their death for favorable terms surrounding Canola Import what is to stop him from agreeing to have an extradition treaty with a dictatorship like Iran for economic gain, and endanger the lives of Iranian Canadians like myself who are considered to be “criminals” by the Regime in Iran for our political activities against the dictatorship?

Today it’s Canada China, tomorrow it might be Canada Iran or Canada Saudi Arabia or any other dictatorship in the world. We need to speak up now to make sure human lives are not traded for economic gain at least in Canada.

The Honourable Justin Trudeau-Prime Minister of Canada:

The Honourable Stéphane Dion- Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Re: Canada must not Restore Diplomatic Ties with the Islamic Regime in Iran and has a Duty to Canadians not to re-open their Embassy in Ottawa When Canada decided to cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic Regime in Iran four years ago, many Iranian Canadians rejoiced that the Islamic Regime’s Embassy in Ottawa also known as the “House of Terror” would finally be shut down.

At the time many in the Iranian Canadian Community referred to the Embassy as the “House of Terror” because the Embassy served as an operation headquarters for attempts to spy on Canadians and manipulate public policy and opinion. It identified and intimidated pro-democracy activists, with particular regard to Iranian Canadian dissidents whose families in Iran may have been vulnerable. Along with front organizations Embassy personnel penetrated our universities and some “students” boasting embassy connections warned campus democracy activists not to get out of line.

On the eve of the four (4) year anniversary of Canada breaking diplomatic ties with the Islamic Regime in Iran, the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) created a petition asking the Canadian Government to re-establish ties with the Islamic Regime in Iran and to re-open the embassy.

It is important to note that ICC does not represent the Iranian Canadian Community as a whole, but only a small numbers of Iranians most of them currently based in Toronto. It is further important to note that while a fraction of our community may support the re-opening of the Islamic Regime Embassy in Ottawa, there is a large number of us who vehemently oppose it!

There is great concern among our community about Islamic Regime’s systematic human rights violations against women, students, journalists, workers, teachers, religious and ethnic minorities and political dissidents in Iran. We watch in horror as Islamic Regime continues to have one of the highest rates of executions in the world. We are horrified to watch our brothers and sisters as they are arrested, arbitrarily detained and tortured for peacefully protesting or standing up for their rights.

We are also extremely concerned about the health and well being of Iranian Canadians currently detained by the Islamic Regime in Iran, including Saeed Malekpour and Homa Hoodfar. As you are well aware Mr. Malekpour has been detained for over eight (8) years, while Ms. Hoodfar was arrested in June of this year and there are serious concerns with regards to her health.

Lastly as opponents of the Islamic Regime in Iran, and activists who campaigned for years for Canada to cut diplomatic ties with the Regime and shut down its embassy, we have serious concerns about the re-opening of the “House of Terror” and the effects that might have on our safety and safety of our families and friends in Iran, as well as our ability to peacefully oppose the Islamic Regime.

We are urging the Canadian Government to continue to take a strong stand against Iran’s human rights violations, and take into account the safety and security of Iranian Canadians living in Canada. We urge Canada not to re-engage with Islamic Regime at a time when the Regime is holding Iranian Canadians hostage and brutalizing its own people.

It’s crucial for Canada to take a strong stand and make it clear to the Islamic Regime that torture, rape, public executions and hostage taking of dual citizens will not be rewarded by renewal of diplomatic relations and the re-opening of the Islamic Regime’s Embassy.

Yours truly,

Sayeh Hassan, Criminal Defence Lawyer, Blogger and Pro-Democracy Activist

Mahmood Ahmadi, Women’s Rights, Children’s Rights and Worker’s Rights Activist

Radio Payam Canada

Mansoureh Nasserchian, Activist, freelancer

Shabnam Assadollahi, Human Rights Activist, Freelance journalist, Former Radio Producer and Host

Homa Arjomand, Coordinator of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court In Canada

Avideh Motmaen Far, political activist, journalist

Yad Mahmodi, Secretariat of the international Committee Against Execution

Iraj Rezaei, Council of Iranian Refugees and Immigrants in Toronto

Soheila Dalvand, Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI), Canada branch

David Aram, Iranian, Canadian labour Solidarity, Canada

In “After Obama, Reviewing American Leadership, Restoring Global Order” Robert Singh does a brilliant job of setting out challenges faced by the Obama administration with respect to foreign policy, analyzing the approaches taken by Obama and finally making suggestions on what the new U.S. administration can do to combat those challenges, and to make sure the United States remains a strong force in world politics.

One of my favorite quotes from the book was “underinvestment in the military and overinvestment in global cooperation has left America with more international challenges but fewer capabilities to meet them.” Singh is referring to both threats posed by an “exploding Middle East” as well as “existential threats on the USSR’s scale”. I found myself agreeing with most of Singh’s analysis and reasoning, and found them to be soundly based on objective facts and statistics.

As an Iranian-Canadian pro-democracy activist for me some of the most interesting parts of the book dealt with Iran and how Obama chose to deal with Iran’s nuclear threat. The author discusses in length the Iran nuclear agreement signed in 2015 and makes the analogy “despite the administration offering less an olive branch than entire forest for a nuclear accord.” I certainly agree with the analysis that Obama not only made huge concessions in order to have Iran sign the nuclear agreement (without Iran making similar concessions), Obama also chose to turn a blind eye to Iran’s systematic human rights violations, and gave the Islamic dictatorship the green light to carry on with arresting, torturing and murdering its citizen.

I found a lot of data and statistics in this book to be stirring, in that they show how fluid politics can be and how issues that are not significant during one election campaign may become crucial during the next campaign.

Robert Singh also took some time to give an overview of the history behind both the Republican and Democratic Party and their historic stand on foreign policy, which put the current election campaign and the rise of the two current Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into perspective.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found it easy to digest. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in U.S. politics and foreign policy.

I was provided with a free copy of this book for the purpose of review.

Hard To Believe is a documentary about the state approved murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China, in order to harvest their organs. While many of us may be familiar with the systematic human rights violations in China, which include the imprisonment and torture of Falun Gong practitioners, very few of us are familiar with organ harvesting in China. Hard To Believe sheds light on this inhumane practice by the Chinese Government.

Hard To Believe is about 56 minutes long and very engaging from the beginning to the end. It gives a great overview of the persecution of Falun Gong practice which is a peaceful spiritual practice that focuses on truth and compassion. The Chinese Government considers Falun Gong a cult and started the crackdown on its practitioners in 1999.

According to Hard To Believe there are between half a million to one million Falun Gong Practitioners in prison at any given time in China. The documentary discusses the mandatory blood and eye tests and organ examinations directed at Falun Gong practitioners. We hear from Enver Tohti, a former Chinese surgeon who was told to remove the organs of a live prisoner who had just been shot to be executed. The shot had not killed the prisoner, however Tohti was told not to worry about anesthesia and remove the organs as soon as possible.

We also hear from former political prisoners who were imprisoned and tortured, but also subjected to cornea tests, extensive blood tests and organ examinations.

David Matas a Canadian human rights lawyer who has done extensive research on this issue and has tried to shed light on the brutal practice of organ transplant in China tells us how the organs of Falun Gong practitioners are ideal because of their healthy life styles, and the Chinese Government sells these organs for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One of the tragedies we learn about in this documentary is the silence of the main stream media, which essentially amounts to giving China the green light to keep on murdering prisoners of conscience to sell their organs for a profit.

After watching this documentary you come to realize it is NOT hard to believe, and it is happening, and it’s time for the international community to stand up and condemn organ harvesting in China. I highly recommend this documentary to any human rights activist or organization who is interested in the human rights situation in China. I encourage you to visit their website at http://www.hardtobelievemovie.com/ and learn how to help.

I was provided with a free copy of this documentary for review purposes.

“Resurrection an American Journey” is a provocative philosophical read that requires thinking and analysis. While I initially had some difficulty following the plot, soon things started falling into place and making sense, and I started to slowly connect the dots.

This book touches on so many subjects relevant to today, including philosophy, economy, politics, war and religion and it forces the reader to take a deeper look and develop a new understanding for each of these subjects.

One of the most fascinating themes within this book is the concept of Have’s v. Have Not’s and how a small but a powerful group is able to manipulate the larger group in upholding the status-quo.

The author WH WiseCarver does a brilliant job of developing memorable characters, some like Mickslaw who we love to hate, and others like Danzig a proud, dignified Captain who refuses to compromise his principles even under the most difficult circumstance.

“Resurrection an American Journey” is not an easy beach read, but it’s clever, fast paced and will make you pause and question the status quo. A very rewarding read I recommend to anyone who is not afraid to dig deep, and find new meaning within older concepts.

I was provided with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Roozbeh Farahanipour an Iranian in exile who lives in United States as a political asylum and an international leader in the Iranian pro-democracy movement is one of the eight (8) candidates who is seeking to replace Ahmed Shaheed as the next U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Iran.

Mr. Farahanipour is a well known pro-democracy and human rights activist who founded and became the Chairman of the Marze Por Gohar resistance movement as well as founding the National Society of Journalists in Iran. As an outspoken Islamic Regime opponent he was imprisoned by the Regime three times the final time being in 1999 and was forced to escape from Iran. In 2000 Mr. Farahanipour received political asylum in the United States where he continues his lifelong passion of advocating for human rights and democracy in Iran.

Since his arrival in the United States, Mr. Farahanipour has demonstrated his dedication to civic engagement by becoming involved with the Westwood Village Rotary Club. As the International Chair of the Club he has worked to build connections with other members of the worldwide organization in an effort to mobilize resources for the purpose of advancing international understanding of good will and peace.

In the past 15 years Mr. Farahanipour has continued his activism by advising government officials both in Washington D.C. and California, and has spoken in countless universities across the United States. He has also received numerous Certificates of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles, the California State Assembly, the California State Senate and the United States House of Representatives.

The untimely removal of Mr. Ahmed Shaheed has been welcomed by high officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as reported by numerous media sources in that country. Mr. Shaheed has issued numerous reports about systematic human rights violations in Iran, focusing international attention on the persecution of women, children, ethnic and religious minorities as well as political opposition.

The Islamic Regime in Iran now seeks to have someone appointed who will not be critical of Regime’s brutal and systematic human rights violations in order to allow them to continue ruling through fear and oppression. It is crucial for the United Nations to take a strong stand and make it clear that they are committed to upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations aims to uphold and protect the rights and freedoms listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through various measures including multilateral treaties, courts and tribunals and Roozbeh Farahanipour’s leadership and expertise qualify him as an excellent candidate for appointment as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

The Lafayette Campaign is a masterfully crafted satirical page turner. In this cyber thriller, our hero “Frank,” a quirky and eccentric “cyber geek” will keep you smiling and at times laughing out loud when he tries to figure out who is manipulating the election polls, while attempting to write a novel about his previous adventures.

Andrew Updegrove does a brilliant job of creating likeable characters one can relate to, while weaving a gripping story with constant twists and turns you never see coming. The story moves at a very fast pace, but it’s easy to follow, enjoyable and impossible to put down.

This is one the best and most entertaining books I have read this year, and I would highly recommend it not only to “cyber geeks” and anyone interested in cyber security issues, but also to anyone with any interest in politics, elections, or anyone who is simply looking to read a fun yet technically accurate book with unforgettable characters you can’t stop thinking about long after you have finished the novel.

I loved how Andrew Updegrove was able to make such a technical subject so fun and entertaining, and can’t wait for “Frank’s” next adventure!

I was provided with a copy of this novel for review.

As a criminal defense lawyer with a serious interest in the human rights situation in the Middle East I found "As the Dust Devils Danced" a necessary, enticing and informative read.

The author Jeffrey Crowther gives the reader an in depth insider view of the lengthy and difficult process of developing a sustainable justice system in the Uruzgar Region of Afghanistan.

In my opinion one of the most fascinating aspects of this book is the detailed discussion about the opium trade in Afghanistan and its role and integration within the Justice System. It appears everyone of consequence in Afghanistan has a hand in the opium trade and controlling the opium trade brings power, prestige and money, all things necessary when developing a sustainable justice system in a country with verity of cultural tribes competing for power.

I also enjoyed reading about the integration of Rule of Law, Sharia and the Afghan culture in the development of the Justice system.

What I would have enjoyed reading about a bit further would have been any role played by the Afghan women within the justice system, sadly the lack of this discussion may have more to do with the fact tha twomen currently have very little if any role within the Afghan Justice system.

Overall an informative must read for anyone interested in the human rights issues in the Middle East especially with a special interest in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday August 2nd 2016 The Islamic Regime in Iran executed more then 20 Kurdish activists of Sunni decent. While all these activists were “convicted” of allegedly committing terrorism related offences, there is serious doubt and concern about the lack of both due process and rule of law which eventually led to these mass executions.

The Islamic Regime in Iran is known for their lack of due process especially with respect to political prisoners. Often political prisoners are subjected to 10 minute mock trials, behind closed doors and without a jury, and more often then not without access to a lawyer.

The use of forced confessions obtained under torture is widespread and it’s often the only piece of “evidence” used to convict political prisoners of crimes they have not committed. The Islamic Regime in Iran is one of the world’s top executioners with at least 230 people having been executed so far this year. It is crucial to note that the number of actual executions might be much higher as many executions are also carried out behind the closed doors of prisons and are not reported.

While many of those executed are political prisoners who have not had a fair trial, the Regime in Iran does not discriminate when it comes to executions. Amnesty International recently reported the execution of a homosexual juvenile offender Hassan Afshar (19) who was convicted of “forced male to male anal intercourse.” By executing juvenile offenders the Islamic Regime in Iran has show that they have zero regard or respect for international conventions protecting the rights of juvenile offenders.

Canada must condemn the recent wave of political and non-political executions and hold the Islamic Regime in Iran accountable for their systematic lack of due process and legal procedure for detainees who have been charged with both political and non political offences.

Canada cannot turn a blind eye to the Islamic Regime’s serious and systematic human rights violations while considering renewing its political relationship with the Regime, until and unless the issues of human rights and mass executions are properly addressed.

Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian-Canadian lawyer, blogger and pro-democracy activists

“The Sacred Calling” is a fascinating collection of essays tracing the history of women in the rabbinate, focusing on both their personal and professional lives. The book is divided into seven (7) broad sections including “Those Who Came Before Us”, “Reform Ordination of Women”, “Ripple Effects: The Impact of Ordaining Women”, “Women Rabbis and Feminism”, “Jewish Life”, “Congregational Culture and Community Life” and finally “image”. Each section contains numerous essays dealing with different aspects of each topic.

History of women in the rabbinate is fascinating, not unlike the history of any other field where women pioneers have paved the way for the future generation. I enjoyed learning about the very first women who were ordained, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

One of my favorite quotes from the book states:

"Women’s stories are particularly vulnerable since, until recently, we were not the keepers of these stories. What will happen to our stories, the stories of women breaking through the barriers at the admissions office of HUC-JIR, coping with an institution built for only male students, professors who were not used to women students, and the barriers of congregations who didn’t want women rabbis as their leaders, once we, who experienced these things, pass from the world?" (Who Controls the Narrative? P. 7)

What makes this book really special is not the fact that it tells the story of these women, but that the story is told by some of the very same women who lived through the challenges of becoming rabbi’s in a male oriented religious structure. We hear firsthand from these women the challenges they faced and how they persevered.

I particularly enjoyed the essay “Women Rabbis in Israel” which dealt with professional experiences unique to female clergy, and the way these women confronted such experiences including overt sexism with humor, confidence and zeal.

This book is a must read not only for those in the Jewish faith, but for anyone interested in learning about how historically marginalized groups, challenges they faced and how they managed to overcome the barriers and succeed.

Iran Star Toronto has published a paid add for "Sighe" temporary marriage also known as islamic prostitution in their paper. The Regime in Iran has used "sighe" or temporary marriages which can be as short as an hour to legalize prostituion and further marginalize women who have no other way of making an income. Now the Islamic Regime is attempting to bring the practice of "sighe" to Canada. This is totally unacceptable and goes against all of our Canadian Values.

Toko Loshe’s novel Shades of Africa is a riveting page turner about growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid. The story is told through the lenses of a young girl growing up in a family with a violent father and a passive mother, in the background of the violence and horror of the South African apartheid.

What I loved about this novel was the seamless parallel story lines between the personal and political. While Shades of Africa sets out an accurate and heartbreaking account of the Apartheid, that is not the only focus of the book. The novel discusses in a very frank manner domestic violence and abuse of women and children during that time.

The story focuses on a young girl Shirley who grows up in a family with an alcoholic and abusive father who takes no issue with violently beating his wife and children on a regular basis. Unfortunately Shirley’s mother is no protection against the abuse, in fact she is a passive woman who often gives up on her own needs and wants and goes along to get along. It’s quite tragic that Shirley grows up to end up in a similar situation as her mother, in a violent abusive relationship and children that she must protect.

One of the most intriguing things about this novel is the fact that a lot of the issues in the books are still very much current and relatable. While the Apartheid in South Africa has ended there is still so much violence and discrimination going on in many countries around the world, where dictatorships continue to persecute religious and ethnic minorities. As well the domestic violence of women and children are still prevalent in many countries in the world.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the South African Apartheid or general issues of oppression of ethnic or religious minorities.

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