CJFE disappointed at the censorship of work by Zahra Kazemi

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Robert Libman
Borough Mayor
Borough of Côte Saint-Luc - Hampstead - Montreal West
5801 Cavendish Blvd.,
Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec
H4W 3C3

June 9, 2005

Dear Mayor Libman,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE wishes to express our disappointment over the decision to censor the work of deceased photojournalist Zahra Kazemi that was on display at the Côte-Saint-Luc municipal library.

After reported complaints from patrons last week, five photos were removed from an exhibit commissioned by the Côte-Saint-Luc borough council to publicize the continuing investigation into Ms. Kazemi's murder in an Iranian prison in July, 2003. Due to this decision, Ms. Kazemi's son, Stephen Hachemi, demanded that the entire exhibit be closed because the removal of the photographs violated the spirit of her work.

Zahra Kazemi was murdered by a regime that has no tolerance for free expression. Canadians are fortunate to live in a country where we do not live in fear of state-sanctioned violence, but we must recognize that violations of free expression come in many forms. Free expression is a fundamental right enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and we must remain vigilant in ensuring that these freedoms are never brushed aside for the sake of avoiding controversy.

We call on the borough of Côte-Saint-Luc to apologize to the family of Zahra Kazemi and to ensure that all public institutions under their purview uphold the right to freedom of expression.

I look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

Yours truly,

Rod Macdonell
Executive Director

Case Number: PL05-08

CC: Gerald Tremblay
Mayor, City of Montreal
City hall
275 Notre-Dame Street East
Suite 1.113
Montréal, QC H2Y 1C6
Fax: (514) 872-4059

The Hon. Jean Charest
Premier of Quebec
Édifice Honoré-Mercier, 3e étage
835, boul. René-Lévesque Est
Quebec City QC G1A 1B4
Fax: (418) 646-1854