question period — Foreign Affairs

Persecution of Bahá'í Minority

December 9, 2020


Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer
[14:45]

My question is also for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, I’ve been requested to ask you this question on behalf of many Bahá’í Canadians in our communities. They are concerned with what Iran is doing to its Bahá’í citizens. The persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran has increased, and at this terrible COVID time, it is particularly disturbing, given the deadly spread of coronavirus in Iranian prisons. The Iranian government has continued to arrest and detain Bahá’ís on baseless charges. Hooshmand Talebi and Mojdeh Eghterafi, an Iranian Bahá’í couple with family in Canada, were recently arrested and had their belongings confiscated, including a piano played by their daughter.

Leader, the Canadian government has always stood up for Bahá’ís in Iran. May I ask if the Canadian government will do so once again?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:46]

Senator, thank you for your question and for shining a light on this disturbing and, unfortunately, ongoing situation for the Bahá’í community in Iran, a long-standing community that has made a great contribution not only to Iran but throughout the world.

Canada is challenged on many fronts in its relationship with Iran but places human rights considerations and the concerns of Iranian citizens at the heart of its foreign policy engagement with Iran. I don’t need to remind this chamber of the challenges that we face in dealing with the regime, but I can assure this chamber that the situation of individuals and communities within Iran remains of great concern to this government.

The Hon. the Speaker
[14:47]

Senator Jaffer, did you wish to ask a supplementary?

[14:47]

Yes, please, Your Honour.

Leader, thank you for your response. I am very much aware, as are Bahá’í Canadians, of the challenges with the Iranian government. Leader, the Canadian government has always stood up for the Bahá’ís, and it is crucial that we protect the Bahá’ís and all the minorities. I ask if the Canadian government will join other governments in speaking out for the rights of the Bahá’ís. We have always done this. Will we do it again?

Senator Gold
[14:48]

Thank you, senator, for the follow-up question. Canada’s approach to issues like this in Iran and in other countries is to work with our allies. Our voice is stronger when we join with like-minded countries. Canada remains committed to insisting that countries live up to their human rights obligations. Indeed, that’s why Canada led a resolution earlier this month calling on Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations.