Iran says Ottawa trains
October 1, 2005
TORONTO - The Department of Foreign Affairs denied yesterday what it called
the "baseless accusations" that Canada was behind a bombing campaign in the
Iranian city of Ahwaz that left seven dead.
As a heated war of words continued between Ottawa and Tehran, an Iranian prosecutor was quoted yesterday as saying that Canada had trained and supported bombers who struck the oil-rich city in June.
"These accusations are totally without foundation," Marie-Christine Lilkoff, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, said in a written statement. "Canada does not support terrorism in any way in Iran or anywhere else. We have in fact taken a very firm stand against terrorist organizations active against Iran itself."
She was responding to a news item on an Iranian Web site quoting Seyyed Khalil Akbar, chief prosecutor for Iran's Khuzekstan province, accusing Canada and Britain of backing those behind the Ahwaz bombings.
"The Khuzestan bombers were in contact with Britain and Canada and were being backed by them," he was quoted as saying in an address to a gathering of provincial prosecutors.
"The primary individuals responsible for the bombings were Iranian and were supported by foreign forces. They had received training in Britain and Canada and were in contact with these countries via the Internet and mail."
Several Canadians are known members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an armed group fighting to overthrow the Islamic regime in Tehran. Canada placed the group on its list of outlawed terrorist organizations in May.
But Ms. Lilkoff said Iran had provided no information about any Canadian role in the bombings through official channels. "The Government of Iran has not approached Canada in any way regarding these baseless accusations," she said.
Canada has been talking tough with Iran in recent months over human-rights abuses and Tehran's nuclear program. The major irritant remains Iran's refusal to accommodate Ottawa's demands over the death of Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian photographer who was murdered and raped while in Iranian custody in 2003.
The back-and-forth continued yesterday in the House of Commons, where Liberal MP Mario Silva condemned the "continued abuses of the most basic human rights in Iran."
He mentioned the case of two gay teenagers who had been executed. "The reality is that gays and lesbians in Iran are subject to appalling human-rights abuse. These young men lost their lives for being gay. The fact that they were as young as they were meant their execution was in violation of international conventions to which Iran is a signatory.
"People across the world must speak out in outrage at these."