MONTREAL – The message that protesters holding a hunger strike outside of Concordia University want to send to the Persian government is that Iranian prisoners of conscience have allies.
Among them, is Quebec solidaire MNA, Amir Khadir.
“In the long term we have seen that these types of solidarity gestures have an impact, Khadir said. “And I hope they will have more so now that the Canadian government is in negotiations over opening embassies.”
The protesters are on their second day of a 48-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Iranian prisoners of conscience.
It’s part of an international protest in 12 cities. Other Canadian cities include Vancouver and Calgary.
The hunger strike is meant to be a show of solidarity with prisoners, who often have to take similar actions as a way of obtaining basic rights such as access to medical care, according to the protesters.
Parzhad Torfehnezhad is a University of Montreal PhD student from Iran who has firsthand understanding of the oppressive nature of the current regime.
“If you were an alternative thinker, you’re not in agreement with the mentality and the ideology of the regime, you get marginalized and this happened to me,” Torfehnezhad said
The demonstration holds special significance in Montreal.
In early June, retired Concordia University professor and Canadian citizen Homa Hoodfar, 65, was being held in Evin, a notorious Iranian prison, known for its practice of torture.
Hoodfar, who was reportedly being investigated for dabbling in feminism and security matters, has since been indicted on unknown charges.
Khadir points out that businesses also have an important role to play, in monitoring human rights records, wherever they do business.
Last April Bombardier entered into negotiations with Iran to supply an airline with new planes.
“Business and democracy, business and human rights, and business and people’s rights should go together,” said Khadir. “We cannot accept that Canadian companies, oil, mining, Bombardier, big corporate business do business without taking into account the plight of the people.”
Regardless of how widespread the problem is in Iran it’s important for these protesters to do their part.
“If the news goes to Iran, at least they could see they have our solidarity,” said Torfehnezhad.
The hunger strike wraps up Sunday at 6 pm.