Iran’s state-owned Press TV continues its attacks on Canada’s human rights record

In recent weeks, Press TV, Iran's state-run global television network, has spent an inordinate amount of time attacking the Canadian government's record on human rights.

With former Manitoba chief Terry Nelson now in Tehran, they seem to have stepped it up a notch.

Nelson, and his small delegation, arrived in Tehran late last week for meetings with Iranian officials to discuss Canada's treatment of its First Nations people.  On Sunday, Nelson and former Dakota Tipi First Nation chief Dennis Pashe were the station's special in-studio guests.

"The Indian Act...basically makes indigenous people living on the government reservation to be legally incompetent in the same category as children, alien enemies," said Nelson, seated in front of an ominous background.

"There's no real economic development on reserves. The reservations have between 60 and 95 per cent unemployment. This is the root cause of the artificial poverty that's on reserves. It is economic sanctions. It is enforced by the Canadian government."

Pashe was a little more inflammatory with his comments evoking concepts such as extermination and concentration camps when describing Canada's approach with First Nations' communities.

"It's part of the ongoing effort by the Canadian government to exterminate us," he said when asked about the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal women.

"In the past they used a gun and [a] disease infested blanket to wipe out our people, to take our resources, to take our lands and to exploit them for their own profit. Today they use legislation as the gun, alcohol and drugs is the bullet so to speak.  And they use alcohol and drugs to cause a lot of of social evil in our families and our communities to undermine our family values," he said.

"[In one Manitoba First Nations community,] they live on $225 a month on social assistance, they cannot buy food, they cannot buy the proper food, the proper diet.  A lot of them have cancer, a lot of them have poor health, diabetes and they're not free so they're captured in that concentration camp known as a First Nation. It's a vicious cycle."

Press TV has been paying more attention to Canada since the Harper government shuttered its embassy in Tehran in September, citing Iran's human rights' record, among other reasons.

Since Ottawa broke ties with Tehran, Press TV's coverage has included provocative headlines such as 'Harper govt. incites genocide of indigenous population: Analyst', 'Warning: This article contains graphic human rights abuse in Canada' and 'Canada, human rights slaughterhouse.'

It's not only Canada's First Nations communities that Press TV is highlighting. In a preamble to the interview with Nelson and Pashe, an Iranian commentator suggests that Canada's human rights violations go beyond that.

"There are other black marks in Canada's record as well," notes the male voice.

"Ottawa has shown no tolerance to public protests. The government harshly cracked-down on student demonstrations against high [tuition] fees several months ago. The widespread human rights violations in Canada go unnoticed in the West as Ottawa's allies turn a blind eye to the issue."

Press TV is owned by the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) — the only 'entity' legally allowed to broadcast in Iran.  In a 2009 article, Time Magazine called it the "state's all-powerful organ of propaganda."