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HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN IRAN

Honourable senators, I rise today to support teachers in Iran. I'll tell you the story of Esmail Abdi, a high school math teacher and general secretary of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association.

Mr. Abdi was arrested on June 27, 2015. His apparent crime was attempting to leave Iran to obtain a Canadian travel visa. Mr. Abdi had been scheduled to attend the seventh World Congress, held by Education International here in Ottawa. Soon after his arrest, he was transferred to the notorious Evin Prison, run by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, elements of which are listed by Canada as designated terrorist entities.

Mr. Abdi was subjected to 17 days of interrogation while being held in solitary confinement, without access to family, a lawyer or any semblance of due process. In February 2016, Mr. Abdi was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. The courts claimed he is guilty of spreading propaganda against the regime and gathering and colluding against national security. These charges stem from Mr. Abdi's activities as a teacher and activist for better educational standards within Iran.

As Canadians, we can be proud to live in a country that stands behind its teachers and defends every citizen's right to freedom of speech and freedom of association. We have a strong record of holding the Iranian regime to account for its crimes, both against its citizens and abroad. I'm proud to stand here once again as a Conservative, calling for my colleagues in the Senate and the government to join me in condemning Iran's treatment of its teachers and calling for the release of all citizens imprisoned under these dubious circumstances.

Thank you.