CJFE urges Canadian government to do more in seeking justice for Zahra Kazemi

Friday, April 1, 2005

The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Tower A, 10th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2

Dear Sir,

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 is appalled to hear of the extent of the torture and rape that Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was submitted to. Evidence from Dr. Shahram Azam, a physician who worked at Tehran's Baghiattulah hospital where he examined Ms. Kazemi on June 27, 2003, reveals that the torture suffered by Ms. Kazemi was even more brutal and extensive than had been revealed previously. Dr. Azam has recently received political asylum in Canada.

This new evidence points again to the Iranian authorities' utter failure to meet international standards of justice in the prosecution of this case. A failure which resulted in a sham trial which produced an acquittal and a statement by the Iranian judicial branch that "the death of the late Kazemi was an accident due to a fall in blood pressure resulting from a hunger strike and her fall on the ground while standing."

While the Canadian government has taken several steps in seeking to redress the murder of Zahra Kazemi, it has been unsuccessful, and in November 2004, Canada sent a new ambassador to Iran. If an Iranian citizen is willing to flee his country, putting his life, career and family in jeopardy, in order to testify - should Canada not be doing more? Why does Canada maintain diplomatic relations with a country which has brutally murdered a Canadian citizen, disregarded international law, and undertaken a flagrant cover-up of the truth?

CJFE calls on the Canadian government to take the lead in pursuing justice in this case. We urge the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs to champion this case specifically, not just the broader case of human rights in Iran, and to accept responsibility for ensuring that justice is done for one of its citizens.

I look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

Yours truly,

Arnold Amber
Case File Number: PL05-02

C.C.: Mr. Gordon Venner, Ambassador, the Canadian Embassy to the Islamic Republic of Iran