Iran's Behaviour Ignores Basic Justice: CJFE

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) called on Iran today to heed international appeals and end its wrong-headed defiance of fundamental justice in the brutal murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. "All through this sorry episode, Iran has violated fundamental human rights, along with the rules of basic decency," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "And it has done this with a series of grotesque, clumsy and transparent manoeuvres." At the same time, CJFE expressed satisfaction with today's announcement that Canada is recalling its ambassador to Iran as a result of the dispute. In the latest controversy, Iran announced that the 54-year-old Kazemi, a Canadian citizen of Iranian descent, was buried today in Shiraz. The news came despite demands by Kazemi's son and by the Government of Canada that her remains be returned to this country for forensic examination and burial. The case of Zahra Kazemi began June 23 when she was arrested by Iranian security officials while taking pictures of a prison in Tehran which houses some of the protesters arrested in last month's student demonstrations. While in custody, family and friends said Kazemi suffered a severe head injury and had lapsed into a coma. She died on July 10. At first, Iran said nothing about the case. Then it said Kazemi suffered a stroke while in custody. Then, in a memorable illustration of Tehran's contempt for the truth, a series of contradictory explanations on the same day - from Iran's vice-president, who admitted Kazemi was injured by interrogators, and from Iran's foreign minister, who raised the possibility that she was injured in a fall. Iran then announced that, rather than allow independent outside experts to investigate, prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi would head up an inquiry. Mortazavi is the man who controls the prosecutors and police who arrested and interrogated Kazemi. "Iran cannot be allowed to continue this charade," Ruimy said. "All those who believe in press freedom - and in basic human rights - must add their voices to the call for justice in Tehran." CJFE is an association of 400 reporters, editors, producers, publishers, students and others who work to preserve and promote freedom of expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or at cjfe@cjfe.org

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