Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jailed Iranian-Canadian's plight echoes murdered Kazemi case

By Aussiegirl

A prominent Canadian-Iranian has been arrested in Iran and held incommunicado. Let us hope the Canadian government can swiftly intervene and demand his release, lest he suffer the terrible fate of female journalist Ziba Kazemi, who was tortured, raped and murdered in 2003, following her arrest by the brutal regime of the mullahs. Kazemi was also an Iranian-Canadian.

Jailed Iranian-Canadian's plight echoes murdered Kazemi case

A prominent Iranian-Canadian arrested in Tehran, reportedly for spying, is being held under circumstances similar to those of murdered Montreal photojournalist Zara Kazemi because Iran is loathe to let foreign diplomats meddle in domestic cases, government officials and those connected to the Kazemi case warned Thursday.

Ramin Jahanbegloo, an internationally known human rights advocate, was arrested around April 27 when he stopped at the Tehran Airport on his way from India to attend a conference in Brussels. A former professor at Harvard University and France's prestigious Sorbonne, Jahanbegloo was running the Tehran-based Cultural Research Bureau, a private-sector non-governmental organization.

When the former University of Toronto professor failed to arrive at the Brussels conference on Saturday, his colleagues contacted Canadian officials.

Ottawa has already made inquiries of Iranian officials in Tehran and in Canada, but with reports Thursday night that Jahanbegloo has already been placed under medical care, Ottawa has been unable to secure a visit with the Canadian citizen.

"This is a case we are providing consular assistance to, and at the request of the family we are not going to provide any additional information," said Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. "We don't want to endanger his life or his current circumstance."

Jahanbegloo is reportedly being held in the notorious Evin prison, where many political prisoners have reported being tortured until they confessed to crimes.

Andre Lemay, a spokesman for MacKay noted that the Iranians also refused to recognize the Canadian citizenship of Kazemi, and to allow Canadian officials to visit her in prison.

The Montrealer was arrested June 23, 2003, after taking pictures outside the Evin prison. She was later detained, tortured and killed despite Ottawa's protests.

A friend of Jahanbegloo, Shahram Kholdi, said that the academic has already been transported to hospital for unknown medical treatment, CBC reported Thursday.

John Terry, a Toronto lawyer who represented Kazemi's family throughout their fight with the Iranians, urged the federal government to take a rigid position in the diplomatic face-off.

"The government should be asserting its rights under international law to say that this individual is a Canadian citizen and we have a right under international treaties to see him," said Terry, a lawyer for Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son.


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