In June 2003, Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi was arrested for taking pictures of a demonstration in front of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. She endured three days of interrogations and torture, resulting in injuries that would prove fatal. A physician that examined Kazemi immediately before her death said that she showed clear signs of torture including a brutal rape, missing fingernails, and a skull fracture.
Because of Canadian pressure, an Iranian parliamentary commission investigated her death and implicated Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, in her death and a subsequent cover-up, including refusal to allow an independent autopsy, intimidation of witnesses, and falsification of documents. Mortazavi was never formally charged for his involvement in Zahra Kazemi’s death. Instead, in a move of open defiance, he was sent to Geneva in June 2006 as part of Iran’s delegation to the newly established United Nations Human Rights Council.
The move was condemned by the Canadian Government, and Prime Minister Harper reassured the world that “Canada has not dropped this matter”. Similarly, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay promised that “If there is any way that Canada can bring this person to justice, we’ll do it”. Despite these statements, the Government of Canada has not yet indicated its intention to initiate a criminal investigation against Mortazavi with a view to pressing charges against him.
This petition calls on the Government of Canada to follow through on its promises and to bring to justice Saeed Mortazavi for the brutal torture and murder of a Canadian citizen. Even if Mortazavi cannot be immediately extradited, Canada should press charges against him as a matter of principle, ensure that he can never again leave Iran without facing arrest, and send the message that even if he is in power today, he will one day face justice for his crimes against international human rights law and the Canadian Criminal Code.
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Dear Prime Minister Harper,
We, the undersigned urge the Canadian Government to formally investigate and press charges against the Prosecutor-General of Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi, for his part in the torture and subsequent death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
Under Sections 269.1 (1) and 7 (3.7) (d) of the Criminal Code of Canada and article 5(1) (3) of the UN Convention Against Torture, Canadian courts have jurisdiction to prosecute Saeed Mortazavi because of the Canadian citizenship of the victim, Zahra Kazemi.
By pressing criminal charges against Mortazavi, Canada will demonstrate that it upholds elementary human rights principles and send the message that Canadian citizens cannot be tortured and murdered with impunity. Furthermore, Canada will express its solidarity with the pro-democratic and human rights movements in Iran many of whose members have also suffered at the hands of Mortazavi.
We therefore call on the Canadian Government to follow through with the promises made by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in June 2006 and to do all within its power to bring Saeed Mortazavi to justice.
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