Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ask the Canadian government to keep Cdn embassy in Tehran open

Update (Monday 1:00 a.m.):

Some additional points to add to the post from earlier Sunday. A few tweets have been sent out by Minister Jason Kenney on this situation, here they are, courtesy of David Akin:
[Tweet at 1842 Sunday night] Some posters mistakingly believe that western embassies are sheltering wounded protestors in Tehran, except Canada. I've looked into this ...

[Tweet at 1843 Sunday night] ... and its completely untrue. Canada has contacted all relevant embassies in Tehran to enquire. None are doing so: they can't.
Associated Press report earlier Sunday:
Italy said Sunday it had instructed its embassy in Iran to provide humanitarian aid to protesters wounded in days of violent clashes over disputed elections.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he planned to discuss a European Union-wide proposal to coordinate such assistance for wounded demonstrators during a meeting Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, which takes over the EU presidency next week.

Pending a coordinated response, Italy has already instructed its embassy to help out "where there is a request or need for help from injured demonstrators," the ministry said in a statement.
It was reported that:
People injured in the Saturday protests sought refuge at a number of international embassies in Tehran, including the Canadian Embassy, said freelance reporter Kameel Ahmady, reporting from the capital.
Further:
The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says scores of injured demonstrators needed medical treatment and some of them had sought refuge at foreign embassies.
So it's true to say that the reports of Canada being one of the few western nations not providing assistance were not reliable. Things were happening quickly in the midst of the demonstrations on Saturday. Those urging not just Canada but other nations (see previous link) to open their doors were motivated by concern for the situation. It was a widespread concern pushed by citizens in many nations.

The larger question that remains is, when faced with such a situation, what should Canada be doing? Looking around at other embassies and seeking reassurance that no one is doing anything? Other than the Italians, that is. Or something more? Providing humanitarian aid to people should be a basic minimum. It does not necessarily lead to "sheltering" or "providing refuge," which is the gist of Kenney's response and which implies much more in terms of diplomatic assistance and engagement in the conflict.

Guess we'll see whether this remains an issue for Tehran, depending on what occurs in coming days.

Earlier Sunday post:

If you are concerned about the situation in Iran and wish to see the Canadian Embassy open its doors to Iranians who may be injured, contact some or all of the individuals and offices below. Other nations of the world are opening their doors, Canada should be among them. As of early Sunday morning (1:30 a.m.), reports are not clear about what the extent of Canada's assistance will be. A confusing Foreign Affairs statement to CTV Saturday p.m. stated that the Canadian embassy in Tehran was closed on Saturday yet suggested it might open to assist in coming days but it's unclear what this means:
Foreign Affairs says that Canadian embassies do not normally offer asylum to individuals abroad but will provide temporary safe haven if there is an immediate threat or injury.
Contact the Canadian government and let them know that you want Canada to keep our embassy doors open.

Prime Minister Harper
Telephone: (613) 992-4211
Constit Office Telephone: (403) 253-7990
Fax: (613) 941-6900
EMail: HarpeS@parl.gc.ca

Embassy of Canada in Tehran
Email: tehran@international.gc.ca

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon
Telephone: (613) 992-5516
Constit Office Telephone: (819) 281-2626
Fax: (613) 992-6802
EMail: CannoL@parl.gc.ca

Parl Secy to Foreign Affairs Minister Deepak Obhrai
Telephone: (613) 947-4566
Constit Office Telephone: (403) 207-3030
Fax: (613) 947-4569
EMail: ObhraD@parl.gc.ca

You can go here to find your own MP's information.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released a statement on Saturday night:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff today condemned the Government of Iran’s use of violence to stifle peaceful dissent by protesters calling for open and transparent democratic elections.

“We mourn each life lost as a result of the Government of Iran’s unjust actions, and share the anguish and outrage of Canadians of Iranian origin at the suppression of peaceful protest and the apparent denial of fully free and fair elections,” said Mr. Ignatieff.

Amid reports of death and injury inflicted by the Iranian government upon peaceful protesters, the Liberal Leader also encouraged the Canadian government to do all it can to help the injured at its embassy in Tehran.

"Canada should join other countries in keeping our embassy open for the humanitarian needs of the people of Iran."

Despite the media blackout put in place by the Iranian government, reports emerging largely through online social media show images of bloodshed among protesters and clashes with government police forces.

“The Iranian government cannot hide the truth from their own citizens or from the rest of the world. By answering the call for open and transparent elections with a violent disregard for the rights of its citizens, the Iranian government has further alienated itself from the international community.”

“The Liberal Party of Canada strongly affirms the rights of Iranians and people everywhere to freely express themselves and associate with others, without threat to their life or liberty. We call on the Iranian government to cease the violence and continue to call for open and transparent elections.”