Canada’s double standard over human rights

November 11, 2020 - 10:54

TEHRAN – As Iran and Ukraine move forward with their cooperation on the downed airplane, analysts put the spotlight on Canada’s double standards over human rights. Canada is making maverick efforts to use the airplane incident to turn up the heat on Iran.

On January 8, 2020, a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed near Tehran moments after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board. Nearly three days after the plane crash, Iran formally announced that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was mistakenly shot down by Iranian air defenses amid heightened tensions with the United States over the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.

The general was assassinated by an American drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport on January 3, an adventurous move that brought Iran and the U.S. closer to an all-out war. Iran strongly condemned the U.S. decision to assassinate General Soleimani and vowed to take “harsh revenge” against the U.S. First of all, Iran held a very large funeral ceremony for the general and then buried him in his hometown of Kerman. As Soleimani was laid to rest in Kerman, on January 8 Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes against an Iraqi base housing American troops, causing brain injuries to dozens of American servicemen.

During the same night of the strikes, the Ukrainian airplane was mistakenly shot down by Iranian air defenses. Iran expressed sympathy with the victims and, right from the start, worked with Ukraine and Canada, and other countries that their citizens were killed in the plane to get to the bottom of what happened to the Ukrainian plane on that tense night.

“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on January 11, shortly after the Iranian Armed Forces announced that the plane was mistakenly shot down.

But Canada sought to politicize the plane crash right from the start.

“The families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers. That means closure, transparency, accountability and justice – and this government will not rest until we get that,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on January 9.

At that time, investigation into the incident had not been started yet. That’s why legal and political experts said at the time that Canada should wait until a thorough investigation is done.

Seyed Abbas Mousavi, then spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, accused Canada of abusing the plane crash. Mousavi pointed out that Canada abused the incident to sympathize with the Iranian people and demand some action while it has severed diplomatic relations with Iran under U.S. pressure, depriving hundreds of thousands of Iranian people living in Canada of consular services.

“We have announced our readiness to open a consular section in Canada and they can have one in Iran, but these requests and suggestions have been ignored by the Canadian government for a long time, and now in such cases, they express concerns about Iranian citizens. They are just like a bowl that is hotter than the soup,” Mousavi stated.

Canada’s double standards over human rights were also on full display during the so-called U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Over the past two years, the White House imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran in history that led to shortage of medicines in Iran. Canada strictly adhered to the unilateral U.S. sanctions and refused to even export humanitarian goods to Iran. Analysts believe that Canada is not really concerned about the Iranians who died in the plane crash. Rather, it is using the incident to put pressure on Iran.

Besides, Canada has become a safe haven for almost all corrupt politicians who are convicted of embezzlement and other financial crimes. Mahmoudreza Khavari, the former head of Iran’s Bank Melli, is a case in point. Khavari was involved in an Iranian embezzlement scandal of roughly 2.6 billion dollars.

He is a Canadian-Iranian citizen who fled from Iran in 2011 after his involvement in the embezzlement scandal was made public.

The Iranian police chief has recently said that Iran has made efforts to extradite Khavari but Canadian authorities refused to cooperate.

“Our problem is the judiciary and the police of those countries that do not cooperate with us. There are protocols for the extradition of criminals which stipulate that criminals should be extradited from everywhere in case the international police inform Interpol that a criminal should be extradited,” Iranian police chief Hossein Ashtari said of Iran’s efforts to extradite Khavari in late October.

He added, “We went to Khavari's residence twice and even told the [Canadian] police where he was, but the police did not detain him there.”

Despite its untenable records on human rights, Canada still makes efforts to abuse the Ukrainian plane crash. In early October, Canada announced that it is forming its own forensic examination and assessment team to examine evidence and information related to the Ukrainian plane crash.

The office of Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne told The Associated Press the team will collect, organize and analyze all available information, evidence, and intelligence about the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran, and will advise the Canadian government on its credibility.

“This is yet another step to uncover the truth, hold the Iranian regime to account, and seek justice for the families of the victims. We will spare no efforts on behalf of the families of the victims to obtain justice and closure,” Champagne said in a statement provided to the AP.

On the other hand, Iran has lashed out at the “undiplomatic behavior” of the Canadian foreign minister.

“The ill-mannered language, impolite phrases, and very undiplomatic behavior of the minister of foreign affairs of Canada are not something you see behind closed doors,” Saeed Khatibzadeh has recently said in what appeared to be a response to Champagne’s remarks. “Unfortunately, statesmanship in the West has now turned into politics in order to garner a few votes from others. I am very, very deeply sorry that the Canadian nation has to witness such a language from such a foreign minister.”

The spokesman noted, “We recommend that they (Canadian politicians) speak in the same way that they behave and talk behind the closed doors. The etiquette does not allow us to speak like the rude foreign minister of Canada.”

PA/PA

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