Montreal, July 10, 2015
Next Saturday marks the sad 12th anniversary of the as yet unpunished murder of my mother, Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, whom I knew as Ziba.
My mother died on July 11, 2003 under the torture and abuses of the Iranian regime. Her only fault: to have been exercising her profession as a journalist in Tehran, a profession she has passionately pursued across the world, from Montreal to Abidjan, from Port-au-Prince to Baghdad, from Paris to Mexico City.
Last October 10, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the lawsuit that I filed in my name and on behalf of my mother's estate her tormentors and the Iranian government. Although they described the facts as "horrific", the judges refused to act, deferring instead to Parliament. According to them, it was up to elected officials to add an exception to the State Immunity Act, as they did for terrorism, and enable those who find themselves in a situation similar to mine to seek justice before Canadian courts.
Despite the promise that you personally made to me while you were the leader of the opposition, and after nine years in power, your government refuses or neglects to amend the State Immunity Act to put an end to Iran's impunity and that other states with odious track records when they violate the most basic human rights.
Let's recall that the serious circumstances surrounding my mother's arbitrary arrest and murder continue to attract international attention and expressions of support and solidarity for justice. Yet, you and your government refuse to act, declaring at each new development to be "reviewing your options".
Far from the principled foreign policy that you had promised, you continue to cozy up with rogue states and totalitarian regimes. Examples abound and for my part, you do this while a Canadian has been tortured to death, her body hastily and illegally buried in Iran against my will, her tormentors still roaming free. To add insult to injury, your government spent eight years in court trying to stop my quest to seek justice for Ziba, thus ensuring immunity to her torturers and that their crimes remain unpunished.
It's been 12 years since my mother's death and this quest for justice continues. An election campaign is upon us: you can count on me to remind Canadians that preserving your relations with states that abuse the most fundamental human rights takes precedence over the interests of Canadian citizens; that your promises do not count; that today's killer, torturer, rapist or genocide-monger, when acting on behalf of a foreign state, is doing so with impunity in the eyes of Canadian justice.
Ziba wanted to appeal to the human conscience. She has become a symbol of integrity, compassion and continuity. Never the barbarism that killed her or your refusal to allow that justice be rendered will erase her humanity. Never her memory will go away.
Mr. Harper, in this election year, I urge you to commit to allowing Ziba and all the victims of murderous regimes to obtain justice. Commit to me now and in a concrete way to end the impunity enjoyed by their tormentors. This is the right of the victims and their families. This is Ziba's right.
(Published in the Toronto Star NewsPapers)
About the millions of dollars I was offered by the Canadian Prime Minister's office, a 'mediation process' as they called it: an act that means everything: the Canadian government is ready to make the Iranian government pay for Ziba's murder, but it's not willing to confront it in any way for Justice.
I'll soon write and speak about the Canadian government's 11 years denial of Justice and all the actions that have been intended against me, and in general in Ziba's case to hide the truth and legitimize the Iranian government as well as its judiciary.
- Stephan Kazemi
A 1001 media interviews
March 18, 2014
11 years of denied Justice in Canada for Ziba
Ziba has never recognized the legitimacy of the Iranian government. She never went back to Iran after 1979 after she left it in the early 70s. It is only as a professional photojournalist that she tactfully entered Iran 25 years later, like she entered many other countries prior to this reportage, in the Middle East region but also in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Central America and in Eastern Europe. In her lifetime, she visited a great number of territories giving a voice to the voiceless, to the victims of war and oppression and she did it as a Canadian, in a simple human way.
It's been 11 years I am living with the denial of Justice, as well as being, together with the Canadian people in this context, mocked by politicians. At first it was by Prime Minister Jean Chretien who was making scandalous declarations in regards of Ziba's murder, pretending to be chocked following her illegal burial in Iran, but went to shake hands with the very same murderers and torturers he was so chocked about as soon as he left office. Then it was by Prime Minister Paul Martin, also pretending to be affected and horrified by the detailed revelations of torture when publicly reported by our witness the Dr. Aazam. He's office offered me in the name of Justice large amounts of money: under the table, from the parts of the Iranian regime. And finally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who can't even respond to a simple and polite letter - revised by my lawyers. Canada's Prime Minister find it reasonable to torture on certain occasion, he declares.
After 11 years, we are now before the Supreme Court of Canada. My lawyers, qualified as being of the highest level by their peers, locally and internationally, are giving the Court the tools it needs to make an adequate decision and assume its responsibilities. This Court, equipped with Canada's constitutional and quasi-constitutional instruments, and as my lawyers Kurt A. Johnson and Mathieu Bouchard say, robust human rights jurisprudence, can now craft a uniquely Canadian response to this horrific situation of impunity.
Soon Justice for Ziba Kazemi? I don't know, I witness so much corruption during this last decade; I can't say when will it stop, if it ever stops. But I'll be there. Transparent, focused and honest, like my mother's viewfinder.
Stephan's lawyers Mathieu Bouchard & Kurt A. Johnson at their Montreal office | IMK.ca