Statement by Hon. David Kilgour, Pinecrest Cemetary, Ottawa
21 June 2008
It is a sad honour to speak about Neda and the circumstances leading
to her martyrdom five years ago at the French embassy in Britain.
Unfortunately, it was not my good fortune to know her except when she
was once my interpreter in Ottawa at the age of twelve. From
everything her family and many others have said, she was an
extraordinary person. An official of this large cemetery said today
that no-one buried here receives more attention and continuing visits
On June, 17th, 2003, Jacques Chirac committed one of the worst errors
of his presidency. He sent approximately 1300 armoured police with
guns to the home of Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National
Council of Resistance of Iran, outside Paris to arrest her and about
150 others. The French courts have since invalidated this state
violence and found entirely in Mrs. Rajavi's favour.
The victims included Neda, who unfortunately judged it necessary to
sacrifice her young life to protest Chirac's act. Her act no doubt
played a part in the court's favourable decision.
One can only suppose that Chirac was trying to curry commercial favour
for France with the regime in Tehran. In reality, the result was to
entrench more deeply the ayatollahs in power, thereby increasing
regional and world insecurity. As Eskandar Filabi said earlier at this
event, it is truly a "malignant tyranny".
Human dignity abuses by the Iranian government currently include
persecution of ethnic and religious minorities (Arabs, Azeri's, Kurds,
Turks, Baha'is, Jews and Christians), women in a species of gender
apartheid, imprisonment, torture and execution of political prisoners
and prisoners of conscience and complete control over the media.
In trading with Iran, France and other countries doing so legitimize
its government and help to maintain officials in positions of absolute
power. Trade and investment from abroad also provide Tehran, it
appears, with funds used less for the health, education and general
welfare of Iranians, than for funding terrorist groups abroad,
including Hezbollah and Hamas, under the banner of "expanding the
The government of Canada initiated the successfully-passed UN General
Assembly resolution in late 2007, which drew attention to numerous
human rights abuses in Iran, including confirmed instances of:
- Arbitrary torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment, Including, flogging and amputations;
- Public executions, including multiple public executions, and of
other executions carried out in the absence of respect for
internationally recognized safeguards;
- Stoning as a method of execution, and the continued issuing of
sentences of stoning;
- Execution of persons who were under the age of 18 at the time their
offence was committed, contrary to the obligations of the Islamic
Republic of Iran under article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of
the Child and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and
- Arrests, violent repression, and sentencing of women exercising
their right to peaceful assembly, a campaign of intimidation against
women's human rights defenders, and continuing discrimination against
women and girls in law and in practice;
- Ongoing, systemic and serious restrictions of freedom of peaceful
assembly and association, and freedom of opinion and expression,
including those imposed on the media and trade unions, and increasing
harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents and
human rights defenders, from all sectors of Iranian society, including
arrests and violent repression of labour leaders, labour members
peacefully assembling and students;
- Persistent failure to uphold due process of law rights, and
violation of the rights of detainees, including the systematic and use
of prolonged solitary confinementů"
We should all keep in mind these ongoing terrible realities and their
implications for world peace. In recent weeks, moreover, the
Government in Tehran has locked up all seven senior leaders of the
country's 300,000-member Baha'i spiritual community. This violates the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects freedom of
religion, and a host of other international covenants.
In early June, Iran's regime fired three or four Grad missiles at the
approximately 4000 UN-protected residents, including about sixty
Canadians, living in Iraq's Ashraf city. This was clearly an act of
war, although fortunately no one was hurt.
We are all here today in large numbers to honour Neda. Her sacrifice
helped turn public opinion in France, Canada and elsewhere in the
direction that human dignity today is ultimately indivisible around
our shrunken world.
God bless Neda.