Letter to Janice Stein, Munk school of global affair regarding two-day conference on Iran, titled “The global Dialogue on future of Iran”

Download PDF Version Here: ICCC_ Letters-Munk Global Affairs

May 12, 13

Dr. Janice Stein
Director
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON
M5S 3K7

Dear Dr. Stein,

On behalf of our board and members, I am writing to convey our concerns on an issue of critical nature.

On May 10th 2013, the  Honourable John Baird,  Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, ceremoniously opened a two-day conference at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs to “give voice to the diversity of views that should be heard” on the future of Iran. However, conspicuously absent from the event were experts, academics, political activists, students, bloggers, journalists and members of the Iranian diaspora (including those of the Iranian-Canadian community) whose views on Iran do not fully concur with the positions of the Harper government.

In fact, except for a few selected confidants, the Iranian-Canadian community at large was deliberately kept unaware of the event until a day before its opening, which was shyly announced on the Munk Centre’s website on May 9th. And although the organizers subsequently cited “cyber security” as the main reason for their secrecy, many Iranian-Canadians rightly remain unconvinced by the justification.

This calculated attempt to sideline critics and censor opponents of the Conservative government’s policy on Iran is extremely worrisome to many Iranians who were effectively barred from even participating at the event as mere spectators.

This is all the more worrisome since the organizers have  subtly tried to portray the particularly hawkish views expressed at the conference as a faithful reflection of the Iranian diaspora’s outlook on Iran, especially on such sensitive issues as economic sanctions.

The lack of transparency, the undemocratic makeup of conference and the subsequent attempts to present its participants as legitimate representatives of the Iranian public opinion can only lead one to believe that the real aim of the organizers was not to “to give voice to the diversity of views” as claimed, but to solicit a seal of approval for controversial policies that have so far failed to display any positive result.

As proud Canadians, it is our duty to demand that our government pays greater attention to issues of transparency and inclusiveness in our foreign policy in general and on Canada’s Iran policy in particular.

 

Respectfully,

Niaz Salimi
President
Iranian Canadian Community Council

 

Endorsed by:

 

Afghan & Iranian Youth Network of Ontario
Bayan – Centre for Dialogue
Centre for Thought, Dialogue and Human Rights in Iran
Canadian-Iranian Coalition for Peace
Cyrus Cultural Society
No Deportations to Iran
Toronto Iranians Community Group

cc: The Honorable John Baird, MP; PC