The International Campaign for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Iran – On February 11th around 55 human rights activists and concerned citizens gathered in Ottawa, Canada to protest against the illegal imprisonment and execution sentence issued to Permanent Canadian Resident Saeed Malekpour.
The event was organized by the United Student Front in Canada and supported by organizations like Amnesty International and the International Center for Human Rights. David Kilgour, a retired member of Parliament and Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada were also present.
Saeed Malekpour’s wife Dr. Fatemeh Eftekhari and eleven others from Toronto travelled five hours by car to attend the 1:30pm scheduled event outside the Parliament of Canada. When they arrived, protesters from Ottawa, Waterloo, and Montreal were already gathered in the Canadian cold and chanting the official slogan of the day, “Harper, Harper, bring Saeed home.” Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada has not yet spoken out in defense or support of Saeed Malekpour.
While outside the Parliament of Canada, Fatemeh Eftekhari read through a loudspeaker a letter she had written to the Prime Minister, asking from him to speak out against the illegal actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran toward her husband.
An excerpt of the letter reads:
“Mr. Harper, do you believe my husband is innocent? If so, why have you not spoken out for him?…If you are uncertain of Saeed’s innocence, do you believe that internet-related offenses deserve the death penalty, especially when no such law exists? I feel that the silence of the Canadian government means that it is believed my husband is at fault for being imprisoned and sentenced to death.”
Around 2:45pm, protesters walked from the Parliament of Canada to the Iranian embassy. The protesters held banners and posters in support of Saeed Malekpour and against the recent wave of executions in Iran. One man on a loudspeaker led the chants as they walked down the street and the others echoed his words. Passersby watched in curiosity and stopped to observe and read the signs. It was evident that Canadians were concerned about the atrocites against humanity taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some cars that drove by honked their horns in support and even gave a thumbs up or a peace sign.
Outside the Iranian embassy, retired Parliament member David Kilgour delivered a speech. He said, “Let’s bring Saeed back home to his Fatima, who just spoke to us, so they may resume their already established life in Canada. The Canadian government has made efforts to address Iran’s gross and systematic civil rights abuses. Canada is among the major sponsors of the United Nations resolution on Iran’s human rights violations.”
Next, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada also spoke to the crowd. “An average of two people every day are executed in that country…and of course Fatemeh lives in fear and terror that Saeed could be next. And that’s why we have come together with her today to stand in solidarity to make it very clear to the Iranian governemnt that we won’t stand for the ongiong injustices in Saeed Malekpour’s case,” said Alex Neve.
Additionally, on February 9th, Alex Neve had written a personalized letter addressed to Stephen Harper, urging him to call on the Iranian government to immediately commute the death sentence, review the case urgently, conduct an impartial investigation, and not consider confessions extracted under torture.
The International Campaign for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Iran is highly concerned for Saeed Malekpour’s life. On January 29, 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran illegally executed Iranian-Dutch citizen Zahra Bahrami. The Dutch government has been heavily criticized by human rights activists and the media for staying relatively silent during Zahra Bahrami’s imprisonment. Recently, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has admitted that he made mistakes when dealing with Zahra Bahrami’s case and that he was “misled by the authorities” to think there was still time for clemency.