As an Iranian-Canadian woman who has been enjoying the comforts offered by the ‘True North’, I cannot but feel dismayed—to say the least— at the news of the closure of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran. The transfer of the Canadian Embassy’s Visa Office in Tehran to Ankara earlier this year was the first sign of the further souring of already tense relations between the governments of Iran and Canada. My family, for one thing, was directly affected as we waited with bated breaths to see how the latest move would impact my great uncle’s chances of getting a visa. Fortunately in our case, we ended up paying the equivalent of an extra $150 to a travel agent to have my uncle’s visa sent to Tehran; however, I find it hard to believe that the impact of the Canadian government’s latest decision on the repressed citizens of Iran will be limited to a couple of extra bucks (not to mention that that in itself, given the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar vs. the Iranian rial, is a considerable financial burden on the shoulders of many prospective Iranian travellers).
The reasons listed for this decision including the potential threats posed by Iran to Israel, its failure to guarantee the safety of foreign diplomats on its soil, its defiance in the face of IAEA and its continued support for the Syrian government are valid in and of themselves, although it might be worthwhile to pause on them within a broader context rather than in vacuo. 1) Threats against Israel, though quite vociferous and a source of shame to many an Iranian, have, most fortunately, hitherto not translated into action and hopefully never will. 2) Given the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran in November of last year, there may be reason to suspect another similar incident. 3) While Iran is not justified in its attempts to obtain nuclear power, perhaps, no other country in the world should hold such powers as proved by the cataclysmic attacks of August 1945 whose aftermath is alive to this day. 4) Lastly, should a country merit such punishment for its support of Bashar Al-Asad, there are others deserving of similar countermeasures.
If it weren’t for the Iranian people, already reeling under the burden of excruciatingly high inflation rates, political pressures…, who will end up bearing the brunt of such measures, the latest move would not only be praise-, but also, emulation-worthy. However, experience has shown that in situations such as this one, it is the innocent people of a country, who end up paying for the inefficiencies of helmsmen, many of whom, have already secured themselves multi-million dollar mansions in the heart of such world-class cities as Toronto. As a German saying goes, “die Kleinen haengt man, die Grossen laesst man laufen” (“one hangs the small fry, while letting the big fish go away”); instead of having those directly responsible for the plight of the Iranian nation and the charges listed in the previous paragraph pay for their ways, we are making things harder on Iranian citizens and many members of the large Iranian community in Canada. Of course, here, I am not referring to so-called “prominent voices” who can barely voice a single proper sentence in Persian and who are only remotely invested in the welfare of Iranians, if at all.
Having spent a large portion of my formative years in Iran, I feel for a people who has had to go through so much misery throughout the years only to see the figurative, if not literal, noose tighten even more around in its neck.
Being a proud Canadian citizen myself, I would love to see Canada remain true to its Iroquoian etymology and continue to present itself as a peaceful “cluster of settlements” where the peoples of different lands feel welcome on the basis of merit and mutual respect, devoid of seismic faults running along national boundaries. Iranian Canadians, most of whom are highly educated, see themselves as part of this vast land where they have proudly been using their skills and expertise at the service of their fellow Canadians. Though mostly feeling more Canadian than Iranian, it pains them to see how their Iranian friends and relatives have to suffer on account of the wrongdoings committed by the enemies within and doubt that any good will come of the latest move, for the big fish will ultimately survive and the Iranian people…