Lashes per dollar
Canadian trade with Iran and the issue of human
October 22, 2004
Canada Business Council (ICBC) held its annual general meeting
in Tornto on Monday October 18. The seminar was titled, "Bilateral
Relations and its Impact on Your Business with Iran".
Founded in 1992, the goals of the organization are two fold:
promote and support trade and investment between Iran and Canada.
-- To serve as an advisory body to the Canadian government on
matters related to trade and economic relations with Iran.
On the same day as the seminar, reports
began to circulate about a 13-year-old Iranian girl,
Jila Izadi, who has been sentenced to death by stoning for carrying
the child of her fifteen year-old brother. Izadi is currently in
prison, and her brother, also in prison, has received 150 lashes
as his punishment.
Two months earlier, a 16-year-old girl by the name
of Atefeh Rajabi, was executed in the town of Neka, located
in the province of Mazandaran, for "engaging in acts incompatible
The execution was ordered by Neka's judicial
administrator and approved by both the Supreme Court
of the Islamic Republic and the chief of the nation's judiciary
branch, Mahmoud Shahroudi.
The Iran Canada Business Council is
quite concerned that the tragic killing of Canadian
photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, will be bad for business. But
they need not worry. When everything in our world is measured
and cents, it has become increasingly difficult to situate the
abstract and, at times, ambiguous notion of human rights as the
new bottom line.
Even as the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to accelerate
the number of arrests, executions, tortures, amputations, stonings,
and other atrocities and injustices, in May of this year,
the World Bank awarded it with two loans totaling $369 million.
As justification for granting the loans, the World
Bank asserted that they were awarded to help the people of Iran: "In
many countries we have enfranchised civil societies," the
Bank's president, James D. Wolfensohn said at a luncheon, "Should
that and wait until we had perfect countries before we lend?"
continued by professing: "The easiest thing for me, for
the World Bank, would be to say, just wait until these countries
democratic, but that is impractical. The bank is not the United
Nations. Its goal is economic development. Sometimes this must
go hand in hand with democratic development."
This is an
argument that is repeatedly invoked; the suggestion being that
personal status laws of women in Iran will shift dramatically
because French car manufacturer, Renault, decided to open up
a plant in
Tehran, or that the barbarous act of stoning will halt because
the French oil conglomerate, TOTAL, won a $1.2 billion
bid to extract Iranian natural gas in the southern Pars region