Friday, April 01, 2005

The Case of Zahra Kazemi

The Globe and Mail
By Michael Den Tandt and Maria Jiminez
April 1, 2005

The Conservative and New Democratic parties joined forces yesterday to demand Ottawa dramatically ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Iran after revelations that Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was brutally raped and tortured while in Iranian custody in 2003.

"We want the government to do what they should have done almost two years ago, which is to drop the failed approach of soft-peddling and soft diplomacy, and make tough demands," Tory foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day said.

Both Mr. Day and his NDP counterpart, Alexa McDonough, said Canada should withdraw its ambassador to Iran if Ottawa doesn't immediately get satisfaction from Tehran on key issues, such as the return of Ms. Kazemi's remains to her family in Canada and a new criminal investigation subject to international monitors.

At a press conference in Toronto yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew brushed aside the calls for a new approach, saying Canada is already doing all it can to seek justice for Ms. Kazemi.

I know that I am not the only one that finds the reaction of the Liberal Government to her abuse and murder to be reprehensible. certainly, the Last Amazon has posted eloquently on this matter.

Mr. Pettigrew said the new testimony in the Kazemi case, which comes from the emergency-room physician who examined her before she died, "certainly demonstrates gruesome details that make it extremely troubling, most disturbing. But it does not change the nature of the dossier."

Economic sanctions by one country alone don't work, Mr. Pettigrew said. And he dismissed the notion of recalling Canada's ambassador. "We need an ambassador there to promote our case," he said.

Mr. Pettigrew added that Canada has known from the outset that Ms. Kazemi was murdered. "We do not accept the Iranian government's allegations that this was an accident. We never have."
Let's see now. What exactly happened?

In Ottawa yesterday, Dr. Shahram Azam - a former physician with the Iranian security police who last month received asylum in Canada - spoke in great detail about the gruesome injuries to which Ms. Kazemi eventually succumbed in July of 2003.

She had a badly broken nose, a smashed eardrum, broken fingers, a crushed toe, missing fingernails and toenails, a severe head injury, signs of flogging, and deep bruising all over her body, he said.

An examination by an emergency-room nurse revealed "brutal" damage to Ms. Kazemi's genital area, which the nurse said could only have been the result of violent rape. "Those injuries, extensive and severe as they were, could only have been sustained during torture, Dr. Azam said. "It was the first time I saw someone who was tortured," he said in Farsi, speaking softly but confidently. "It was shocking for me."

Dr. Azam's testimony is the first account by a medical witness that categorically contradicts the official Iranian explanation for Ms. Kazemi's death, which is that she died after fainting and hitting her head.
So this Liberal government thinks it acceptable to do .... what was that again? Ah yes, ... "promote our case." The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew PC MP, Defender of Canadians Abroad, Case Promoter Extraordinaire! .... Bullshitter of the First Rank!


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