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Iranian Canadian lawyer Sayah Hassan
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Caspian Makan


This letter first published last week in Winnipeg Jewish Review has been referred to by an article in the prestigious website of the Hudson Institute NewYork

By Sayah Hassan, Caspian Makan and others, published on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

[Editor’s note: The following Open Letter  printed below was written in protest of a  conference organized by the Canadian International Council  and the University of Ottawa’s about Iran which is scheduled to take place on May 5, 2011. The protest  letter is  focused on  two speakers  scheduled to appear at the conference , who the  petitioners believe are mouthpieces for the Iranian regime.

Since this Open Letter of Protest  was first published in the Winnipeg Jewish Review last week, it has been picked up and referred to in an article by Christine Williams April 18, 2011, which has been published on the website of the prestigious Hudson Institute in New york. Williams article is entitled Canada Promotes "The Mullahs' Voice."


As Williams writes: "The petition expresses concern about several speakers on the conference panel, deeming them to be Iranian regime apologists who would present the Iranian government as a "pragmatic and rational entity," in which diplomacy and dialogue could offer solutions. One of those speakers is Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a lobby that advocates the lifting of trade and economic sanctions against Iran. Kenneth R. Timmerman -- Executive Director for the Foundation of Democracy in Iran, and nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran -- once described Parsi as "The Mullahs' Voice" and the "unofficial spokesman in Washington who can talk circles around their official ambassadors."

More excerpts of Williams's article on the Hudson Institute website  are printed after the Open Letter of Protest below ]


The Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defense
Jennifer Jeffs, Canadian International Council President
Richard B. Fadden, Canadian Security Intelligence Director
Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
André Desmarais, President & CEO- Power Corporation of Canada

April 5, 2011

Re: Iranian Community Expresses Grave Concern Regarding CIC’s “Iran in Context Event”

We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned about the National Branch of CIC [Canadian international Council] and the University of Ottawa’s upcoming conference “Iran in Context - Regional and Global Implications."

For over three decades, various governments have used dialogue and diplomacy with the regime in Iran to no avail, starting with the administration of President Jimmy Carter, who did everything possible to assure the new regime of American friendship and failed miserably. Since that time, the more world governments have tried to engage the regime’s leaders, the more belligerent, emboldened and abusive they have become. Countries such as Canada, which is well aware of the brutality of the Iranian regime, through the death of the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, and institutions such as yours and the University of Ottawa should support pro-democracy opposition groups. You should refrain from appeasing the Islamic government by all means possible and certainly should not host those who seek to facilitate and buy time for the regime to develop its nuclear weapon’s program using the rhetoric and guise of democracy and hiding behind the flag of human rights.

These apologists, and regime supporters intentionally portray the Islamic government in Iran as a pragmatic and rational entity. They suggest that dialogue and diplomacy are the best way to deal with Iran. They falsely claim that sanctions are not effective and hurt ordinary Iranian people. Recently, primarily due to opposition leaders Mousavi's and Karrubi’s arrests, these apologists are attempting to shift the focus from Iran’s weapons program to what they have decided is more acceptable human rights issues. They have falsely blamed regime’s blatant human rights violations, only second to China's, on U.S. pressure and ridiculously claimed that recognition of the IRI would improve the human rights violations in Iran. The Iranian American community considers Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo and Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) such intellectually dishonest regime apologists. They contribute to regime’s agenda and serve the interests of those in power in the Islamic republic. Ramin Jahanbegloo is a known apologist who seeks reform but not systemic change for Iran, knowing fully well that reform is not possible under the IRI Constitution.

Trita Parsi falsely purports to represent Iranian-American interests in the United States. The Center for Security Policy cites NIAC as a lobby organization for the government of Iran. As a result of a lawsuit, numerous NIAC documents have been brought to light that show NIAC lobbies for policies favorable to the regime in Iran. Law enforcement experts, who have reviewed some of NIAC’s emails, memos and board minutes, believe that NIAC has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws. NIAC has less than 3,000 members, according to Parsi, yet NIAC asserts that it represents the majority of the nearly 1 million Iranian-Americans in the USA. In our view, NIAC and Parsi will eventually be subjected to criminal prosecution and organizations and individuals that collaborate with NIAC will come to regret their affiliations with them.

Currently, the Middle East is in crisis. Pro-democracy forces are springing up daily to demand basic human rights and better living conditions. It is about time that countries such as Canada publicly align themselves with the people who have suffered brutally at the hands of dictators and tyrants. It is time to give honor, dignity, moral imperatives and ethical values precedence over lucrative financial contracts that often occur, wrongly, at the expense of ordinary citizens' lives.

We respectfully request the cancellation of this conference, or the inclusion of representative experts, who can provide a more honest and accurate picture of the current situation and opposition forces inside and outside Iran. Furthermore, Canada must have an enduring commitment to encourage democracy and human rights throughout the world and cannot ignore the fact that the current regime in Iran is a major threat to world’s economic stability and world peace. Canada must encourage and support every group that truly advocates freedom and the rule of law and oppose any regime that denies such progress. At this time, Iran is dominated by a vicious dictator who has proven his lack of concern for his own people on countless occasions. There should be no question that Canada must have every ethical, moral and strategic reason to encourage Iranian democratic movements.

The Iranian opposition groups hope to establish a co-operative relationship with the Canadian

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.