Canada threatens Iran with UN action on rights record    Fri. 5 Aug 2005


OTTAWA - Canada threatened Friday to introduce a UN resolution on Iran's human rights record as it called on the Islamic republic's new government to improve its human rights record and change its position on nuclear ploriferation.

Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew urged new Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad to "usher in an era of change" to repair relations hurt by the killing of a Canadian journalist in

"As no real improvement in
Iran's human rights conditions has been noted to date, consultations have begun between Canada and its like-minded partners regarding a possible new resolution on Iran's human rights situation before the UN General Assembly in the fall of 2005," Pettigrew said in a statement.

Iran rejected a European Union demand for it to abandon making nuclear fuel with possible weapons use, in return for trade, technology and security incentives.

"Only meaningful change by President Ahmadinejad's new government on
Iran's position on human rights and nuclear proliferation can lead to an improvement in our relationship," Pettigrew said, uring Iran to continue negotiations with Europeans.

In May, Pettigrew said
Canada had decided to "constrain" its relations with Iran until Iranian authorities handle the case of the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi "in a serious and credible manner."

Kazemi, who was 54, died in custody in
Tehran in July 2003 after being arrested for photographing a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. Family lawyers have accused the judiciary of a cover-up, a charge backed by Ottawa.

Iran's government has acknowledged that Kazemi was violently beaten in prison, although the judiciary has also said she may have died after a fall.

Pettigrew on Friday also demanded the "immediate release" of Abdolfattah Soltani, a Kazemi family lawyer arrested after a court hearing on July 25.

Canada also condemned the jailing of dissident journalist Akbar Ganji, the recent hanging of two teenagers and the persecution of minorities, including members of the Baha'i faith.

"We are extremely concerned over the deterioration of the human rights situation in
Iran," Pettigrew said.