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Matthew Ostrove



By Matthew Ostrove, September 27,2010 with files from the Winnipeg Jewish Review

In the aftermath of the most recent UN  resolution and the targeted economic sanctions subsequently adopted by the US, the EU, Canada, and Australia against Iran  the Honourable Irwin Cotler , Liberal Member of Parliament and Foremr Federal Minister of Justice outlined  a ten-point action plan, on how to further deal with the  fourfold threat posed by Iran. [ the nuclear threat, the genocidal incitement threat, the threat of  state-sponsored terrorism, and the threat of systematic and widespread  human rights violations of the Iranian people.]

Colter was in Winnipeg to honour David Matas at a  luncheon put on by the Winnipeg chapter of the  Canadian Associates of  Ben- Gurion university on August 25 where he spoke on Iran. 

Cotler leads a consortium of international scholars and human rights advocates, who have formed The Responsibility to Prevent Coalition, which released a report on the danger of a nuclear, genocidal, and rights-violating Iran .


Cotelr outlined a ten-point action plan, including a specific component for Canadian citizens:

1. ACTION BY CANADIAN CITIZENS.  Cotler said “We should call upon the Canadian Government to undertake any one of the mandated remedies to hold Ahmadinejad’s Iran to account for its state-sanctioned incitement to genocide."  He  also said “We should call on the Canadian government to  list the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary guard Council]should be listed as a terrorist entity in Canada].We should also enforce and sanction Iranian human rights violations including a network of travel bans, asset seizures, and the like respecting violators themselves."  He further  called fro the extension of   SEMA( Special Economic Measures Act. )

“While the Government has now applied SEMA (Special Economic Measures Act) to Iran, SEMA applies to Canadian persons and organizations only. It does not apply to foreign companies or their subsidiaries operating in Canada and defying the international and Canadian sanctions. Cotler said “It is essential that the Canadian Government ensure that SEMA’s authority extends also to those foreign companies and subsidiaries operating in Canada - defying the sanctions regime but seemingly exempt from its application,” he said

According to Cotler, “Canada is in a unique position – including also because it is an energy super-power – to exercise the moral, political, diplomatic, juridical, and economic leadership to organize a Coalition of the Willing to hold Ahmadinejad’s to account.

(For more on Cotler and SEMA, see our editorial “Canada Invokes SEMA Against Iran. Did Cotler’s persistence pay off?”

2. SANCTIONS MUST BE ENFORCED NOT ONLY ADOPTED.  Cotler noted that “The United States had sanctions legislation already in place, a report disclosed in March 2010 that the US had awarded $115 billion in contracts in the last decade to corporations trading with Iran, including investment in the energy sector.”

3. SANCTIONS MUST BE INTERNATIONALIZED. According to Cotler, “Not only have important countries not adopted sanctions, but they are indeed mocking these sanctions through their ongoing violation of them. For example, Russia and China – which supported the UN sanctions resolution – are enhancing their economic relations with Iran. Turkey and Brazil not only remain outside the sanctions orbit, but have accelerated their trade with Iran.In Europe, Switzerland not only signed a 25-year contract with Iran for the importation of Iranian gas – valued at $18 billion – but held a ceremonial contract signing in the immediate aftermath of the sanctions resolutions. Germany and Austria continue to increase their trade with Iran, with German-Iranian trade at $6 billion annually.”

4. NAMING AND SHAMING: Sanctions must  target the private sector as well as the public sector involving the regulation – the “naming and shaming” – of countries trading or investing in Iran in violation of the sanctions.

 “I want to cite here the Iranian Investment Disclosure Project of United Against Nuclear Iran – on whose board I sit – which has launched an initiative to identify publicly-traded companies that have business dealings with Iran, and ensure that such companies adequately inform investors of the legal and financial perils associated with such dealings,” said Cotler.

5. SANCTIONS MUST BE MULTI-LAYERED:  Sanctions must not only be economic but also juridical, diplomatic, political, and the like. “In a word, a critical mass of threat requires a critical mass of sanctions and remedy,” Cotler said.

6.SANCTIONS MUST BE THREAT SPECIFIC: Thus far, the sanctions regime has focused on the nuclear threat – understandable and necessary – but it runs the risk of ignoring, marginalizing, and indeed sanitizing the other three threats, Cotler said.

7. USE LEGAL REMEDIES UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW: Regarding matter  state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, Cotler stated "It is astonishing that, as we meet, not one State Party to the Genocide Convention has initiated any of the mandated legal remedies required under international law. If one looks at the US, EU or Canadian sanctions, there is not one reference to state-sanctioned incitement to genocide nor any reference to undertakings to combat it, despite the historical lessons of the dangers of such incitement, and the dangers of indifference and inaction in its wake.”

 8. SERIOUS AND SUSTAINED ADVOCACY  RE IRAN’S MASSIVE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS:  Regarding Iran’s  massive human rights violations,  Cotler said “the response has not only been tepid but indulgent; and when there is an outcry, as in the recent Iranian stoning sentence of 43-year-old mother-of-two Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani – or in the murder of Neda in the aftermath of the fraudulent election – it is temporary but soon abates, while the planned execution still remains – even if not by stoning – and the massive domestic repression continues unabated. The murdered “Nedas” of the last year are no longer on the radar screen – our advocacy must be serious and sustained, not sporadic and temporary.”

 9. EVEN WHILE NEGOTIATING WITH IRAN, DOMESTIC REPRESSION CAN NOT BE IGNORED: The prospect of negotiations with Iran must not become a march of folly.  “The US-European declared intention.. to negotiate with Iran if only Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment airbrushes away the massive human rights violations – while mortgaging the green movement to the negotiations themselves.”  Cotler noted thatt when President Ronald Reagan was negotiating an arms treaty with the former Soviet Union he did not ignore the plight of Soviet dissidents, political prisoners, or Soviet Jewry. “ On the contrary, progress on arms control was directly linked to progress on the human rights front. Our report lists a panoply of remedies to sanction the human rights violations, and calls on the international community to implement these remedies,”Cotler said.

10.. THERE MUST BE INTERNATIONAL EFFORT  TO SANCTION IRGC. In the matter of Iranian-sponsored terror, there needs to be a comprehensive, multi-lateral, international effort – not just a US one – to sanction the IRGC. It should be noted in this regard that Canada has still not listed the IRGC as a terrorist organization, while Hezbollah is still not listed as a terrorist entity in Latin America or Europe.


Earlier in his remarks, Cotelr explained that  Iran is in standing violation of international legal prohibitions against the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons, has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide,  is a leading state-sponsor of international terrorism, and is engaged in widespread violations of the rights of its people.

Regarding Iranian nuclear weaponization program, Cotler said Iran has engaged in serial deception with respect to its serial violations, including:
• the significant expansion of its uranium enrichment to nuclear weapons-grade capability;
• the discovery of its hidden uranium enrichment site at Qom;
•  its planned development of an archipelago of enriched uranium centres;
• the acceleration of centrifuges for acceleration purposes; and
• the whole leading the IAEA to conclude that Iran was “advancing in its efforts to construct a nuclear warhead, to develop a missile delivery system for such a warhead, and a mechanism to detonate such a weapon”, such that the IAEA and arms controls experts have reported Iran’s enrichment of enough nuclear fuel to now build two nuclear bombs.

Regarding state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, the report “documents the critical mass of precursors to genocide in Ahmadinejad’s Iran, constituting thereby not only the prelude to a preventable tragedy, but a crime in and of itself under international law. “

In his remarks, Cotler  referred to the  Iran’s incitement to genocide against the Jewish people.  He referred to the parading in the streets of a Shiab-3 missile draped in the emblem “Wipe Israel off the map”, while exhorting the crowd to chants of “Death to Israel”; denying the Nazi Holocaust as evidenced in the recent Government-sanctioned Iranian Holocaust denial website; warning any Muslims who support Israel that they will “burn in the umma of Islam.”
Cotler concluded, “As a former Minister of Justice who prosecuted Rwandans for incitement, I can tell you that the critical mass of incitement in Iran parallels if not exceeds that which existed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and which served there as a genocide foretold.”

In the matter of state-sponsored terror, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)  is engaged in  “state-sponsorship of terrorism abroad and massive domestic repression at home,  while bearing responsibility for the murder of political dissidents both outside and within Iran."

Regarding human rights, Cotler said “We are witnessing  the widespread and systematic violations of the rights of the Iranian people, including: the arrest, beatings, detention, killing, torture and other inhumane treatment of Iranians; the systematic and widespread oppression of religious minorities — the Bahá’í as a case study – where seven of its leaders imprisoned now for more than two years were just sentenced to twenty years in prison for espionage (i.e. spying for Israel) but which hardly made the international radar screen – the exclusion of, and discrimination against, ethnic minorities, such as the Kurds, five of whom were executed in May 2010 alone with little acknowledgement let alone condemnation from the international community; the persistent and pervasive assault on women’s rights, who are at the core of human rights advocacy in Iran; the murder of political dissidents; the assault on freedom of speech, assembly and association — including assaults on students, professors, activists and intellectuals.”

Other articles re: Cotler  and Iran:



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