Iranian-Canadians loath the Iranian Regime, says local advocate

Written By Guest User, Posted on May 27, 2020

In January, Canadians expressed their frustrations with the federal government over its handling of flight PS752. Words of unity were followed by numerous gaffes on the international stage, with little in the way of answers on the nature of its downing.

57 Canadians lost their lives and closure remains a luxury afforded to none of their families.

In the months following the downing of flight PS752, all recovered cellphones in addition to the blackbox remain in the hands of the Iranian Regime, and away from the prying eyes of other nations.

Many, like Payman Parseyan, a vocal critic of the Regime and an Iranian-Canadian, expressed his disapproval of the theocracy’s actions, extending to its pattern of continued human rights abuses.

While supporters of the Regime remain negligent to its ways, exemplified in the vigils of Qasem Solemani, compulsion of the hijab, and supression of its citizens, Pareyan defended the sentiment of the majority of Iranian-Canadians, who deplored extremism and the failures to hold it to account.

Parseyan spoke with The National Telegraph recently to discuss these issues and more. 

Following the tragedy of flight PS752, you spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper as well as other national and international publications regarding its effects on the families of the victims. Can you speak to those experiences and how important it was to have your voice heard on behalf of Canadians, especially the Iranian-Canadian community?

As past president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton and my professional experience, I was in a unique position to understand the local Iranian-Canadian diaspora and relay the perceived thoughts and opinions shared among many in our small but tight-knit community. I can’t recall the exact number of interviews, but my estimate is around 70, including various recognized outlets throughout the globe, including CNN, BBC and others. I felt a great deal of responsibility and privilege in sharing our story as this tragedy unfolded. Our city, our province and our country mourned with us and made sure we didn’t feel alone. Particularly Edmontonians and our Mayor Don Iveson played a key role for our community and I know that our community will be forever grateful for their words and actions during this tragedy.

57 Canadians perished in the tragedy, and many questions remain unanswered as to the nature of the crashed aircraft. From the victims’ families you have talked with, or that of the broader community, how are they holding up?

It is almost impossible to articulate the pain they must feel every day. Many of them are channelling their frustrations for answers. Our Prime Minister spoke well during this tragedy and showed support for the community, but I believe the words have yet to see action – which does not and should not include bowing to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif,  the well-spoken spin doctor of Iran’s regime. I feel terrible for the families because they have yet to hear answers. Does Iran claim that an instructor-level operator behind the missile defence system somehow mistook a commercial aircraft just outside of Iran’s busiest international airport for a 4-meter cruise missile? Not likely, and this story has much more to develop. We know this, Iran knows this, and the black box and the illegally confiscated cell phones of the crash victims could shed light on this.

With the prime minister bowing to the Regime’s Foreign Minister, in light of their lack of urgency on getting answers from the Regime on PS752, does the lack of accountability concern you, given they confiscated all recovered cellphones and have yet to grant access to the blackbox?

I am deeply skeptical of Iran’s current regime. One need not look further than the very people in Iran who don’t trust their own government after 41 years of tyranny and dictatorial oppression. This government has done everything in its power to cover up this crash investigation. They denied it, they bulldozed an active crash site, they took personal belongings, they confiscated cell phones (in which a Ukrainian aviation expert claims may claim footage from inside the cabin), they won’t share the black box – blatantly violating international crash protocol, and they refuse to cooperate. These reflect actions of criminal thugs and not a government to bow down to. I expect our Prime Minister to stand up for Canadians’ lives and to take a firm stance.

With several thousands of Iranians killed in anti-Regime protests, the lack of attention by the Regime to human rights is concerning. What hasn’t media as a whole covered this issue as in-depth as it should have? 

Iran has a long history of human rights violations. It’s disheartening to say but seeing the regime continue to oppress the Iranian people is not breaking news. We saw one of the deadliest crackdowns in modern Iranian history just 7 months ago. This rogue regime continues to break international laws by violating human rights, arbitrarily oppressing innocent people, interfering and prevent a plane crash investigation of international interest, where Iran is the body that shot down this commercial flight. Frankly, the International Criminal Court should be involved here as soon as possible.

Following the death of Qasem Soleimani, supporters of the Regime organized vigils to commemorate the life of Soleimani. Many from the Iranian-Canadian community spoke out in frustration as counter-protestors. Does this instance accurately reflect the divide on the Regime by the Iranian-Canadian community? 

Every community has its extreme factions. I am deeply critical of this faction because they are propagating the narrative that Iran’s state-run media produces. While Ghassem Soleimani may have helped defeat some ISIS factions and other Wahhabist groups in the region, he also funded, trained and equipped many militant and terrorist groups that went on to kill American and Canadian soldiers. The instability role that Iran plays in the region comes from the clandestine arm of the IRGC, the Qods force, formerly run by Ghassem Soleimani. He was often portrayed as a hero in Iranian media and his apolitical nature made him very popular within Iran. Here in Canada, we are privileged to see multiple sources of information to form our own opinions. Unfortunately, there are still factions that adhere to the Iranian regime narrative and see the killing of Ghassem Soleimani from a different viewpoint than the majority of the Iranian-Canadian diaspora.

Why have International Organizations that claim to defend human rights failed to do so, in the instance of Iran, China and others? 

The United Nations Human Rights Council is an organization that is often labelled as a circus. In 2015, they elected Saudi Arabia to chair the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. This is akin to having ISIS chair the committee on same-sex marriage. Saudi Arabia, in the same year, beheaded more people than ISIS. Sudan’s (a member state) former president is wanted on multiple international crimes including genocide. Eritrea, another current member state, was found guilty of widespread human rights violations. I can’t actually think of a single country that is adhering to all of the Articles within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Canada. Human Rights as set forth by these international organizations are wishful intentions, with little to no enforcement.

The hijab is often a source of controversy for many, as we’ve seen Iranian women willingly take off the hijab and face subsequent lashes and imprisonment. How is it viewed amongst Iranian-Canadians?

In Iran, a woman will be harassed, fined, jailed, lashed, or even face capital punishment for refusing to wear the hijab. Although there are many more forms of oppression in Iran, the hijab has become the single largest symbol for the oppression of women there. Promoting it here in the name of feminism is a spit in the face of all of those women across the world who are fighting patriarchal societies with their lives. Iran has countless women in prison because they refused to cover their hair. I have a great deal of admiration for those who wear the hijab here in Canada. They choose to do so freely and all the power to anyone who wishes to dress according to their customs and traditions, but the vast majority of the Iranian-Canadian women do not wear a hijab. This is a good reflection of what the choice of these individuals would be if they had this freedom in Iran. When politicians in Canada wear the hijab, they endorse the rhetoric of these oppressive regimes and make the plight of women in prisons within these oppressive societies meaningless.

Do the extreme secularism laws of Quebec and the extremism of the Regime on religious symbols indicate both sides are wrong? Are they two sides to the same coin?

Extremism is not good for anyone on any side. Quebec’s Bill 21 is an extreme piece of legislation in clear violation of article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If seeing someone wearing a kippah, turban, hijab, or an atheist t-shirt upsets you, then you’re the problem – forcing society to change for you, is not the answer. Canada is the best place in the world, partly because of the freedoms we enjoy, and the sense of self-identity one can have within our pluralistic society.

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