Lloyd Axworthy and Allan
Rock: "Canadians Can Help Stop the Persecution of Iran's Bahá’ís"
Two pre-eminent Canadians, Lloyd
Axworthy, President of the University of Winnipeg and former Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and Allan Rock, President of the University of
Ottawa and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and federal
cabinet minister, have published an eloquent appeal on behalf of the
Baha'is of Iran.
Under the title "Canadians Can Help Stop the Persecution of Iran's
Baha'is", they write of how "deeply troubled" they are that Baha'is are
denied access to university, and express concern that "the brutal
regime in Tehran has turned a deaf ear" to the calls to end "systematic
persecution of Baha'is".
"Canada", they write, "has an important and enduring connection to this
vulnerable group. Some 30 years ago, several thousand Baha'i refugees
fled Iran to make Canada their home, settling in every province and
territory and becoming proud and contributing Canadians."
"There are now more than 30,000 Canadians of the Baha'i faith from many
different backgrounds who have enriched our country by their
citizenship. Following the Iranian Revolution, the Canadian Government
took steps at the United Nations and elsewhere to defend the rights of
the Baha'is in Iran. Successive Canadian Governments have continued
that leadership by sponsoring annual resolutions at the United Nations
condemning Iran for its oppressive and inhumane policies."
Noting that "a growing group of academics, university administrators
and notable advocates for peace including Desmond Tutu, Romeo Dallaire
and Jose Ramos-Horta are condemning the Iranian regime's denial of the
right to education", Presidents Axworthy and Rock close their
"We are proud to join them and we encourage all Canadians to add their
voice in calling on the Iranian government unconditionally to drop all
charges against educators, to halt all further aggression towards the
Baha'i Institute for Higher Education and to allow the Baha'i access to
education. The Baha'is of Iran must know that in resisting the cruel
oppression of those who persecute them, they do not stand alone."