14 July 2003
Photojournalist dies in Tehran
(RSF/IFEX) - On 12 July 2003, RSF voiced deep shock after learning from the family of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi that she had died in a military hospital in Tehran. She was detained on 23 June by security forces for taking photos. The circumstances that led to her hospitalisation are not clear. She reportedly fell into a coma as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage. Kazemi, aged 54, had both Canadian and Iranian citizenship.
"We hold the Iranian authorities responsible for Zahra Kazemi's death," RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said, accusing them of arresting her in an arbitrary manner and failing to take the necessary steps to provide her with adequate medical attention. "Her death serves as a tragic reminder that Iran is one of the harshest regimes in the world for journalists," he added.
RSF called on the Iranian authorities to grant the family's request to repatriate the body to Canada, where she lived. It also called for independent international organisations to be allowed to carry out an investigation in Iran into the circumstances of her death.
Kazemi had gone to Iran to do some photo-reporting and had hoped to travel to Turkmenistan. After leaving her family's home in Iran on 23 June, the family received no word of her for several days. The authorities later told them she was being treated at Baghiatollah military hospital in Tehran. During the days following her arrest, the authorities also searched the family's home, confiscating cameras and a large amount of money.
Canadian officials were able to visit Kazemi in hospital, but did not have access to her medical file. Her hospital room was under constant police guard.