Recall of ambassador to Iran a strong diplomatic statement of anger
Date: Thursday, July 24 2003
Topic: Canadian Politics
Canada has recalled its ambassador to Iran to express its anger over the death and burial in Iran of a Canadian photojournalist who died in police custody.
"The minister of foreign affairs has called back the ambassador for consultation," Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Wednesday. "That is a form of protestation that is very noticeable in diplomatic terms."
"I'm very unhappy that they would take a journalist and kill a journalist," Chretien said after a cabinet meeting, and that is why Philip MacKinnon has been recalled to Canada.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said he has also taken other measures to try to have the body of Zahra Kazemi, which was reportedly buried Wednesday in Shiraz, exhumed and returned to Canada.
Kazemi's only child, Stephan Hachemi, who lives in Montreal, had wanted her body sent to Canada for an independent autopsy and burial.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Tuesday that it had received a letter from Kazemi's mother, who lives in Iran, saying she wanted her daughter buried in her home town of Shiraz.
Hachemi said his grandmother had told him earlier she was being pressured by Iranian officials into agreeing to burial in Iran.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called for an open trial of those behind the death.
Khatami said he demanded from the head of Iran's hardline judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, an "impartial" judicial inquiry into the case.
Kazemi was buried in a private cemetery in southern Shiraz amid tight security, witnesses said, with about 60 relatives and about 70 government officials and armed plainclothes security agents.
Asked if the burial would harm Iran-Canada relations, Khatami said, "Why should it? Hopefully no problems will come up with the Canadian government."
Kazemi died July 10, nearly three weeks after she was detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during last month's student-led protests.
After 77 hours of interrogation, Kazemi spent 14 days in the intensive-care unit of Baqiyatollah Azam Hospital before she died, according to a report conducted by a presidential committee. The hospital is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, a hardline security force.
The committee that investigated the death said Kazemi had complained of punishment from her guards and died of a fractured skull. The report, which appeared in full in an Iranian newspaper Monday, didn't say who was behind the death.
For more on Kazemi's death see http://http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/Potkin30724.htmhttp://http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/Potkin30724.htm
Source: Canadian Press