By William Miller
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
NEW YORK, United States – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian officials boycotted a speech given by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations General Assembly to protest Iran’s human rights violations and President Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic remarks. Canada was joined in the boycott by Israel who was also not present for Ahmadinejad’s speech. Other nations, including the US, were present when the Iranian head of state began his speech but walked out as the speech took on more anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tones.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told the Canadian press that Cannon would not attend Ahmadinejad’s speech because Ahmadinejad is hostile to Canada’s ally Israel, continuously delivers anti-Semitic speeches, and commits countless human rights violations against his own people. The spokeswoman specifically cited the violent acts by the Iranian government towards election protestors in Iran who protested the results of the Iranian presidential election claiming the results were fraudulent. Opposition groups say there where at least seventy-two protestors killed by the Iranian government in the aftermath of the election. Iranian government officials, however, claim only thirty-six were killed. Hundreds of others remain imprisoned for their part in the protests.
Cannon himself also pointed to Iran’s detention of an Iranian-Canadian citizen as one of his reasons for not attending Ahmadinejad’s speech in an interview with Fox News. Iran has resisted all attempts by Canada to negotiate his release, claiming that the detainee was involved in a plot against the government although no charges have been brought against him. Iran has also denied his Canadian citizenship.
Iranian President Mahmaud Ahamadinejad (PHOTO: Canadian Press)
President Ahmadinejad has a reputation for making anti-Semitic speeches for some time and has incited walkouts at UN events before. Diplomats from nations including the US, Britain, and France have protested his speeches in the past. He has called Israel “the most cruel and repressive racist regime” and has called for their destruction. He has also angered world leaders by claiming the Holocaust was fabricated and never actually took place. Although President Ahmadinejad’s speeches are condemned by the leaders of many nations he maintains a right as head of state to speak at the U.N. General Assembly and has been hailed by some world leaders who share his hostilities towards Israel.
For more information pleas see:
Canadian Press – Canada to Boycott Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech – 24 September 2009
Fox News – Canadian Walkout on Ahmadinejad – 24 September 2009
Reuters – Ahmadinejad Prompts Walkout From UN Racism Summit – 20 April 2009