Iran General NewsZahra Kazemi supporters protest in Toronto

Zahra Kazemi supporters protest in Toronto

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Canadian Press: About 60 Iranian-Canadians staged a raucous rally outside a downtown courthouse Monday to protest the Iranian government’s handling of the case of slain Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Waving Iranian flags and holding Kazemi’s cardboard portrait, the group gathered in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall to protest the Iranian government and its perceived role in the death of Kazemi, who died two years ago while in Iranian custody. Canadian Press

TORONTO — About 60 Iranian-Canadians staged a raucous rally outside a downtown courthouse Monday to protest the Iranian government’s handling of the case of slain Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.

Waving Iranian flags and holding Kazemi’s cardboard portrait, the group gathered in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall to protest the Iranian government and its perceived role in the death of Kazemi, who died two years ago while in Iranian custody.

For nearly two hours, the protesters chanted, “Democracy, yes, mullahs no,” and, “Down with Khathami” as they called for the ouster of Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami.

“We want to raise awareness internationally for the people to know what women in Iran are going through,” said Shanaz Fallah, director of the International Coalition of Women Against Fundamentalism.

Fallah said she hopes Monday’s protest will help raise awareness of Kazemi’s death and the oppressive nature of the Iranian government and its hard-line mullahs.

“Zahra Kazemi was an unfortunate scenario that everybody is aware of,” she said. “We hope that Parliament Hill and the Canadian government will listen to us and take action.”

The 54-year-old Kazemi died in July 2003, nearly three weeks after she was arrested for taking photographs of a demonstration outside a Tehran prison.

Authorities initially denied Kazemi was killed, claiming that she died of a stroke. Later, however, a presidential-appointed committee found that Kazemi had died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage due to a blow on the head.

On Monday, an appeals court in Tehran opened a re-examination of Kazemi’s case after an Iranian secret agent suspected in the journalist’s death was acquitted last year. Journalists were not allowed into the hearing room.

Many Iranian-Canadians participating in Monday’s rally called on Ottawa to take an active effort to investigate Kazemi’s death and to cut ties with Iran.

“They have to put an embargo on the Iranian government,” Fallah said, calling members of the Iran regime “murderers” and “terrorists.”

Sharam Golestaneh, president of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights in Iran, said more transparency is needed in any new probe of Kazemi’s death – and Canada is the only country that can make it happen, he said.

Iran has already rejected a Canadian demand to allow an international forensic team to examine Kazemi’s body, saying Iranian authorities would carry out an investigation.

“Enough is enough; now is the time to act,” Golestaneh said.

“We don’t believe in closed-door negotiations. Any investigation has to be brought to the attention of the international community or the International Criminal Court to be transparent.”

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