10 July 2003
Canadian journalist in a coma after attack
(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a CJFE media release:
CJFE Condemns Attack on Canadian Journalist in Iran
July 10, 2003 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) expressed outrage today at the injuries sustained by Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi while in the custody of Iranian police.
"We understand the Canadian government has sent a diplomatic note to the government of Iran," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said.
"We strongly encourage the Canadian government to pursue all avenues to establish just what happened to Kazemi and to obtain her release. And we call on Iranian authorities to grant the Canadians access to Kazemi and to ensure she gets all the medical care she requires."
The 54-year-old photojournalist, a native of Iran who is a Canadian citizen, was arrested late last month in Tehran by plainclothes security officers during the widespread student protests, reportedly after she took photos of a prison where many protesters were incarcerated.
Since her arrest, Kazemi has lapsed into a coma. Canadian diplomats have been allowed to see her in hospital only from a distance. They say she appears to be unconscious but it is not possible to determine more without a closer look. Kazemi's family in Canada says she lapsed into a coma after a vicious beating by police interrogators.
It is significant to note that Iranian security forces have arrested several journalists who tried to cover the protests by students and others. As well, one daily newspaper has been closed and at least one Iranian journalist has been slapped with a travel ban.
CJFE condemns Kazemi's treatment at the hands of police, along with the arrests of journalists Ensafali Hedayat, Mohsen Sazgara, Amin Bozorgian, Taghi Rahmani, Hoda Saber and Reza Alijani.
CJFE is gravely concerned that the Iranian government has opted to crack down on the news media to prevent coverage of the opposition protests. We demand that charges against the journalists be dropped and that they be released immediately.
CJFE is an association of 400 journalists, editors, producers, publishers and citizens working to promote free expression and media freedom in Canada and around the world.