A Canadian Journalist is
beaten to death in Iran.
And BBC reaches new
By Ali Sina
Kazemi, 54, an Iranian born freelance
journalist from Canada, was arrested after taking photos outside a prison
in Tehran on June 23.
She was then allegedly branded a spy and beaten into unconsciousness by
police interrogators. One report said she had suffered a brain hemorrhage.
The news of her death came to her family in Canada on Saturday.
Friends who visited her in hospital Tuesday
said she was unconscious, with severe cuts and bruises on her face and
head. They said she had been given a 50-50 chance of survival.
Zahra Kazemi was a Montreal based journalist
and she had been authorized to take pictures of the recent student
protests for the British agency Camera Press. Associated Press quoted a
spokesman as saying she was detained while trying to photograph families
of the arrested demonstrators outside Tehran's Evin prison. She was
branded a spy and subsequently assaulted by her police interrogators.
According to Iranian officials Zahra Kazemi
was taking photo in "no photography zone " around Evin prison.
In fact , she was taking photos from the arrested students' families
outside the notorious prison. This was the crime for which she was
arrested, interrogated and savagely beaten to death. Her body was black
and blue from her beatings.
In her last email to her son, Kazemi described
the anti-government student protests that engulfed the capital, sparking
mass roundups and the detention of numerous journalists by security
forces. "The country is living through nighttime upheavals that are
ideal for photographers," Kazemi wrote.
Canadian Foreign Affairs learned of the arrest
on Monday, when Kazemi's mother contacted the Canadian embassy in Iran.
At least 17 journalists and over 4000
demonstrators are believed to still be in custody following a security
clampdown after the student protests.
The Islamic Republic’s interrogation is
always accompanied with beating. Videos showing 300-hour long police
interrogation of several detainees were stolen from the office of the
President Khatami and broadcasted last year through LA based Iranian
televisions. The videos showed gruesome beatings of the prisoners and
hitting their heads. The screaming of other prisoners being tortured in
other rooms can be heard in the background. The interrogators worked for
Mr. Khatami, the so-called reformist and the smiling president of the
Iran's director of foreign press, Mohammad
Hoseyn Khoshvaqt, an official in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic
Guidance, and an ally of Mr. Khatami said Ms Kazemi died on Friday night
as a result of a brain stroke.
Officials said she began to “feel ill”
while under interrogation on 26 June, and was immediately taken to
Baghiatollah Azam hospital where she suffered a stroke.
A Canadian foreign affairs spokesman said
consular officials visited Ms Kazemi twice in hospital, but were only
allowed to see her through a window. Obviously the Iranian officials did
not want the Canadians see the cuts and bruises on Kazemi’s body.
Savagely beating the detainees is a common
practice for the regime of Mullahs. No one is detained in Iran for
political reasons without being beaten during the interrogation. If the
prisoner dies under these sever beatings the official version of the
Iranian government is always that they died with natural death. One must
be truly gullible to believe that a healthy 54-year-old woman who is
doing her job taking photographs suddenly goes into comma and dies when
interrogated by police and mysteriously cuts and bruises appear on her
body. The Islamic Republic has also earned the distinction of having the
greatest number of political prisoners. Tens of thousands of Iranians have
been systematically executed by the Islamic regime for their political
views and accused of drug trafficking, theft, spying or other unrelated
The Family members and a press freedom
advocacy group are demanding an independent investigation into the death
of a Quebec-based photographer.
The Iranian government's version of events is
"just not enough," said the press freedom group Reporters
Without Borders, calling on Canada, other governments and the UN to apply
diplomatic pressure on Iran for the immediate return of Kazemi's body.
"For us, the most important thing is to
have the body back in Canada. Without that, we cannot do an autopsy to see
how she died, or why she died," Tanya Churchmuch, president of the
Canadian chapter of the organization, told a news conference.
The BBC reaches new low
The brutality of the Mullahs in how they treat
their opponents is not a secret. However what is shameful is BBC's efforts
to cover up this crime and their biased reporting in
what happens in Iran. The BBC on Saturday, 12 July briefly reported this
story emphasizing the Islamic Republic’s version of it. The title
of their story reads the official line of the Isalmic Republic. “A
Canadian freelance photographer has died after falling ill in detention in
Iran.” The rest of the British press almost completely ignored this news
or reported it from the Islamic Republic’s perspective.
As Potkin Azarmehr, the Iranian student
dissident in UK pointed out, "Zahra Kazemi also did not make the BBC
television news. Instead the BBC TV's top news item was about the sixties
football soccer star and whether he had started drinking or not. Had Zahra
Kazemi died in Zimbabwe the BBC would have had non stop reporting of
This is not the first time that BBC tries to
twist the facts in favor of the Iran’s Islamic Regime. The BBC has been
instrumental in the overthrow of Shah in the revolution of 1979 while
depicting Khomeini as the savior of Iran. It unleashed a campaign of
misinformation broadcasting in Farsi to Iran to instigate the Iranians and
was busy venting the fires of the revolution. Since then the BBC has been
reluctant about reporting the crimes of the Mullahs and neglected
completely the anti cleric movement of the dissident Iranians, both inside
and outside of Iran.
Last month, John Simpson, the World Affairs
Editor of the BBC in a response to Potkin Azarmehr, who politely objected his biased journalism, wrote to tell
him that he does not respond to Azarmehr’s email because he has been
“rude” and “life is too short”. The correspondence between Mr.
Simpson and Mr. Azarmehr is published here. Many readers were outraged by
the arrogance of Mr. Simpson and wrote to him to express their disgust.
Mr. Simpson has refused to respond.
What happens in Iran is nothing out of
ordinary. Mass detentions, tortures of the political dissidents, beating,
stoning, maiming and gouging the eyes of the prisoners are the daily
practices of the Islamic regime. We all know the real face of the Mullahs
and their reign of terror. No one expects anything different from them.
However we expect more from BBC. The BBC has been biased in their
reporting the news from Iran. Where does BBC in particular and the rest of
the British media stand? Are they on the side of the truth? Are they on
the side of human rights? Or all they care for is to save face of the
Mullahs? Is the BBC funded by the Islamic Republic? Are people like Mr.
John Simpson receiving any revenues from the Mullahs? Why this much
untruthfulness in reporting of what is going on in Iran? It is perhaps
time that the British take a closer look at the BBC and probe into that
agency. Is the BBC run by a Mafia? Who pays them? Who controls them? It is
time that the British demand the truth.