A petition has been issued to the government of Canada on the case of Saeed Malekpour, the unjustly detained Iranian-Canadian permanent resident. Saeed has now been imprisoned in Iran for over 10 years on trumped up charges. Initiated by Maryam Malekpour, Saeed’s sister, now a Canadian citizen, the petition calls for his release and reaffirms the Canadian government’s recognition of Iranian human rights violations.
Saeed has been unjustly detained in Iran for 10 years now. He was forced to falsify a confession by torture, which was broadcast on Iranian TV and led to a subsequent death sentence. His mental and physical health are of serious concern for his family and human rights campaigners worldwide.
As of 11 February, the petition has 209 signatures and is open for signatures until 8 April 2019. It lists Judy A. Sgro, as the MP responsible for submission. Judy is the Liberal MP for Humber River – Black Creek, an electoral district in Toronto. The petition invokes Canada’s commitment to the protection and promotion of international human rights and states,
“We, the undersigned, Citizens and Residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to jointly with the Prime Minister, personally and publicly call for the release of Saeed Malekpour — permanent resident of Canada – in his 10th year of unjust imprisonment for his courage and determination to make technology more accessible and promote freedom of expression and democratic values.”
Saeed Malekpour was arrested by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on 4 October 2008. No reasons for his arrest were provided, but two years after he was arrested, he was convicted on charges of, inter alia, “insulting the Supreme Leader”; “insulting the sanctity of Islam”; and “spreading propaganda against the [Revolutionary] System.” There was no evidence for these charges, but Saeed was forced into a false confession extracted from him by means of torture.
Before he was detained Saeed worked as a freelance web designer and programmer. In 2004 he became a permanent Canadian resident. He went on a short trip back to Iran in 2008 to spend time with his dying father. Officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained him on the street without an arrest warrant on 4 October 2008. Saeed was given a death sentence for allegedly creating a web program designed to allow users to share photographs on the internet which, the Iranian authorities said was used on pornographic websites – although not by Saeed.
Saeed Malekpour has now spent the last ten years living in terrible conditions in an Iranian prison. Like other dual nationals and permanent residents, he is being held in complete disregard of his foreign status and with next to no engagement with, or responses to, the Canadian government.
Campaigns for his release
The current petition is championed by the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Canada. The centre is led by Irwin Cotler, a human rights lawyer, former member of Canadian parliament and a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Canada has spoken out on the human rights violations of those arbitrarily detained in Iran on previous occasions. In June 2018 Trudeau’s government voted in a motion on Iran that stated,
“The house demand that the Iranian Regime immediately release all Canadians and Canadian permanent residents who are currently detained in Iran…”
On 10 December 2018 the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Canada issued a report calling for sanctions on 19 Iranian officials for their complicity in the repression of Iranian civil society. The Raoul Wallenberg Centre used the Magnitsky law to permit Canada to sanction foreign (Iranian) officials implicated in human rights abuses.
Prior to this they submitted a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asking them to initiate an investigation declaring Saeed’s detention to be arbitrary and in violation of international law.
Other international human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International have also campaigned for Saeed’s release. IOHR joined Amnesty International Canada at the Toronto Centre for Arts on 15 December 2018 at an event in support of Saeed’s release. Comedian Maz Jobrani entertained the audience while speaking of his support for the campaign to free Saeed. He spoke of hope that,
“others around the world read about Saeed and join the movement.”
Members of the audience were invited to sign the petition calling on the Canadian government to expedite Saeed’s release.
See IOHR TV’s interview with Saeed’s sister Maryam: