Groups clash over Canadian involvement in Middle East
EDMONTON -- A group calling for “no war on Iran” and which blames the U.S. for escalating tensions in the Middle East was confronted by Iranian-Canadian protesters during a rally Saturday afternoon.
The event in Old Strathcona was set up by Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism, an anti-war group that wants to see Canada remove its troops from the region and withdraw from NATO and NORAD.
“We want Canada to act as a factor for peace, and not an appeaser of the Americans and their aggression and illegal actions,” said organizer Petty Morton, referring to the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qasem Soleimani.
He was killed in an American airstrike earlier this month.
“We’re calling on all Canadians to respect the sovereignty and rights of people everywhere to live in peace without foreign intervention, without occupation, war, aggression and so on,” Morton continued.
Members of Edmonton’s Iranian community who showed up to counter-protest said they weren’t there to advocate for war, but to broaden the conversation surrounding the Iranian general and international conflict.
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“The world isn’t so black and white. While he may have lead some groups that fought terrorist groups … Qasem Soleimani was also responsible for heading terrorist groups and for running groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and other proxy groups that lead to the death of hundreds of Americans, if not thousands, throughout the region,” said Iranian-Canadian Payman Parseyan.
“Nobody is here promoting a war on Iran. Nobody wants the war on Iran,” he added.
“What they don’t factor is the stability the American and Canadian troops are trying to bring to that region.”
Another Iranian-Canadian living in Edmonton echoed the statement.
“I’m deeply concerned about having another war in Iran. I personally lived through that,” recalled attendee Amir Ghahari.
“What I’m concerned here is that if for any reason the lives of people who just lost their lives tragically in the plane crash, they don’t get justice.”
All 176 people aboard a Ukrainian International Airlines flight – including 57 Canaidan citizens and 29 permanent residents – died when an Iranian missile struck the aircraft over Tehran on Jan. 8.
However, Morton called the incident a “terrible, terrible tragedy that took place, as people say, in the fog of war.”
She said, “Ultimately, what we say about this, is that it must be the last, not the first, tragedy of this kind that takes place as a result of increased tensions and threat of war.”
Parseyan countered: “We’re trying to make sure that our governments are aware that Iranian people here hear the voices of the Iranian people in Iran.
“We’re calling for action to make sure there is accountability for the lives taken.”
On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said the country was not ruling out negotiations with the United States, if the U.S. agreed to first lift sanctions against it.
Canada’s crash investigators have been deployed to Tehran, and said on Friday Iranian investigators have so far been “very helpful and cooperative.”
The Transportation Safety Board is still fighting for a larger role in the probe.