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REGIONS:

CANADIAN PHOTOGRAPHER TORTURED

PEN Canada, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have renewed calls for justice in the case of murdered Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, following revelations from a former doctor that she was brutally tortured and raped during her detention in Iran in 2003.

Kazemi, a freelance photographer who was born in Iran, died on 10 July 2003, more than two weeks after she was arrested in Tehran for taking photographs outside a prison (see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/60020).

Authorities first claimed the cause of death was a stroke but later stated that her death was "an accident due to a fall in blood pressure resulting from [a] hunger strike and her fall [to] the ground while standing."

Shahram Azam, a former Iranian army doctor who was recently granted asylum in Canada, says he was the first to examine Kazemi in a Tehran hospital before her death. He says Kazemi had a fractured skull, several smashed and broken bones, missing fingernails, deep scratches on her back and evidence of a flogging. He also said she was brutally raped.

According to an Iranian parliamentary commission report released in October 2003, Tehran's Chief Prosecutor Said Mortazavi and other members of the conservative judiciary branch were directly involved in subjecting Kazemi to violent interrogations in Evin Prison and attempting to cover up the cause of her death (see: http://hrw.org/press/2003/11/iran110503.htm). Nothing has come of the report.

According to Human Rights Watch, torture is used routinely to punish dissidents in Iran. In 2004, more than twenty journalists and bloggers were detained on the orders of Mortazavi. The detainees were held in solitary confinement and were routinely tortured and forced to make false confessions, the group says.

PEN Canada and CJFE are urging the Canadian government to step up pressure on Iran to bring the guilty to justice.

Visit these links:

- PEN Canada: http://www.pencanada.ca/news/newsdetail.php?newsitem=40
- CJFE: http://cjfe.org/protestlets/2005/01042005iran.html
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Iran01apr05na.html
- Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/13/iran9803.htm
- Report on Torture in Evin Prison: http://hrw.org/reports/2004/iran0604/
- CBC Chronology: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/kazemi/

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