(note: Originally titled ‘Canada Can Do More in Iran’)
I have been following the news in Iran with a mixture of hope and trepidation. There’s hope in that those who are demonstrating for democracy don’t appear to be backing down. Unfortunately neither, it seems, are the ruling elite. The reprisals are ramping up, and obvious comparisons between the days to come and China of 1989 are already being made. I would like to see these demonstrators succeed and transform Iran into a more liberal democracy, but as big as the crowds are, they don’t seem big enough. And, more frustratingly, there seems to be nothing I can do to help.
Until now. By way of Candace at Waking up on Planet X, I’ve heard a very disturbing rumour. According to primo blogger/columnist/journalist Andrew Sullivan, the Canadian embassy is turning people away, and refusing to treat injured protesters.
Now, I realize that it is hard to verify all the facts in a situation as chaotic as what exists in Tehran, but the fact is that other embassies are agreeing to treat the injured. This is particularly important considering there are reports out there that Iranian police are gathering names of the injured from hospitals, and rumours abound that the Iranian government will be raiding one or more of those hospitals tonight.
Yes, Canada does have an embassy in Tehran. Are we being gun-shy for defying the regime before, giving safe harbour to American embassy officials during this theocratic regime’s rise in 1979? Should we be? While I admit that there is a risk here, how is it that Australia, Britain, Belgium, the French, the Irish and many others are taking that risk and lending assistance to those who ask for it? Do we not have a duty ourselves to lend assistance to those who ask for our help?
Candace suggests letters and e-mails to our elected officials and to our embassy in Iran, asking for a clarification, and opening our doors if we haven’t already. These addresses include:
- The Minister of Foreign Affairs email address: CannoL@parl.gc.ca
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Tehran embassy: email@example.com (note that the misspelling of Tehran in the address is still the official e-mail address of our embassy there.
Update: Sunday at 11:29 p.m.
Candace provides me with an answer to my questions in the form of this report from CTV News. The relevant paragraphs:
“The Embassy was closed Saturday and there were no Canadians at the Embassy when the protests began. Reports that we were providing shelter to Iranian demonstrators are false,” foreign affairs and international trade spokesperson Simone MacAndrew said in a statement to CTV.ca.
“Canada’s Embassy is located in the centre of recent demonstrations. Due to the tense security in Tehran this week, the Embassy has been closing early so that staff can return home safely before the public and democratic demonstrations begin.”