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Zahra Kazemi

Zahra "Ziba" Kazemi (زهرا کاظمی in Persian) (1949 - July 11, 2003) was an Iranian-born freelance photographer, residing in Montreal, Canada, who was killed by Iranian intelligence agents during an interrogation following her arrest in that country. Her proper burial place stirred international controversy and may cause deterioration of Iran-Canada diplomatic relations.

Born in Shiraz, Kazemi moved to France in 1974 to study literature and cinema at the University of Paris. With her son, Kazemi immigrated to Quebec in 1993, where she later gained dual citizenship as an Iranian and Canadian national. In addition to her resident countries, Kazemi's photojournalist works were mostly done in the Muslim nations of Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, in all three cases, when the said countries where under US occupation. Immediately prior to her travelling to Iran, Ms. Kazemi was in Iraq for freelance work.

Travelling back to her birth country using her Iranian passport, Kazemi was allowed into Iran to take photographs of the possible demonstrations that were expected to take place in Tehran in July 2003. However, on June 23, 2003, she was arrested in front of Evin prison taking photographs in sensitive areas where photography and video recording is strictly prohibited.

Nineteen days later, she died in Iranian custody in Baghia-t-ollah al-Azam Military Hospital. It is widely believed she was beaten to death; after initial denials, Iranian government sources later admitted that she had died of a fractured skull as a result of being beaten.

Her death sparked a sharp diplomatic response from Canada, which insisted that her body be returned to her Canadian son.

Her death also raised concerns from international human rights and free speech groups (such as Reporters Without Borders) concerned over the fate of journalists in Iran. Ten journalists are currently (as of August 2003) in custody in Iran, and 85 newspapers have been shut down since April 2000.

Timeline of Events Following Her Death, July-August 2003

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