Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I assume the outrage that comes from media sources around the world will be deafening.

A top Iranian government official admitted that an Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist who died after her arrest here last month had suffered a "brain haemorrhage caused by a beating".

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist, also made the dramatic claim that the death of 54-year-old Zahra Kazemi was linked to wave of arrests carried out by regime hardliners seeking to undermine the embattled pro-reform camp.

"She died of a brain haemorrhage caused by a beating," Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters after Wednesday's cabinet meeting, giving the preliminary result of a government probe.

"We have witnessed a kind of comprehensive attack," added Abtahi, a close ally to embattled reformist President Mohammad Khatami, pointing to a wave of arrests of dissidents and journalists "and even the death of Zahra Kazemi".

Nothing to hide here, right?

Health Minister Massoud Pezeshkian also said the cause of death was a brain haemorrhage, but added only that the investigation was ongoing.

"I examined the body myself and there were no bruises or cuts of the face. We are going to examine the corpse again and I will view the report, and I have appointed a medical team to look into this case," he told reporters.

And he angrily rejected demands by Canada to examine the body.

"We are knowledgeable enough to examine the body and find out the cause of her death, so we will not allow foreign teams to investigate," the minister said.

He was backed by Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari, who argued that "since she is an Iranian citizen it has nothing to do with Canada."

And government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said "no foreign country has the right to say anything on this matter," although he did vow, "We will definitely deal with anyone who has anything to do with her death".

RSF has gone after the Iranian Ambassador in France.

Reporters Without Borders today demanded that the body of Canadian-Iranian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi be exhumed to find out exactly how she died after being arrested last month for photographing Teheran's Evin prison. She died in police hands on 11 July.

The Iranian ambassador to France, Seyed Sadegh Kharazi, told a delegation from the press freedom organisation today that she had been buried in Iran on either the 13 or 14 July but he could not say where. Yesterday however, the Iranian embassy in Canada said a government commission of enquiry set up by President Mohammad Khatami had ordered her not to be buried until the investigation was complete.

Nothing from HRW.

Amnesty International is calling for an independent inquiry.

Amnesty International added its voice today to the calls made by Iran's Islamic Human Rights Commission and other international human rights organizations in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into the death in custody of 54-year-old photojournalist Zahra Kazemi on 12 July 2003.

"Iran's obligations under international human rights treaties require the establishment of an independent and impartial judicial inquiry to determine the causes of Zahra Kazemi's death," Amnesty International said.

< email | 7/16/2003 01:26:00 PM | link

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