PERSONALLY, I’M GETTING RATHER TIRED OF THESE ASYLUM SEEKERS. IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE STATE YOUR COUNTRY IS IN FIGHT FOR IT DAMMIT! QUIT EXPECTING THE WEST TO STEP IN AND THEN PISS AND MOAN THAT WE’RE THERE..I DON’T UNDERSTAND ALL THE RUNNING? I THOUGHT THE MAJORITY OF MUSLIMS WERE A PEACEFUL LOT? IF YOU WANT FREEDOM, YOU HAVE TO GET IT LIKE WE DID…
Canada denies Iranian journalist’s refugee claim
Adrian Humphreys Dec 21, 2011 – 11:38 PM ET
Graham Hughes for National Post
The IRB said it found Behzad Khalilzadeh’s account lacking, and did not believe Iran would still be after him eight years after the truth of Zahra Kazemi’s death had been admitted.
Behzad Khalilzadeh was a reporter in Tehran when he says a confidential source in Iran’s intelligence agency gave him a tip about the grim fate of Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who died in an Iranian prison.
But his scoop on the photojournalist’s 2003 rape and murder in a notorious prison never made it into print in Hamshahri, a prominent national daily newspaper. Instead, he was visited by policemen who threatened to kill him if he did not tell them the name of his source, the former journalist said.
Fleeing his homeland, he claimed refugee protection where he thought his actions might be best appreciated: Canada.
His reception has not been welcoming.
Mr. Khalilzadeh, 39, who now works at a Montreal car wash, has had his refugee claim denied and appeal rejected, leaving him on the cusp of a return to Iran he fears will mean his death.
“I am scared. I’m in a bad way,” he told the National Post.
The man worked as a photographer in Tehran before moving into reporting. After Ms. Kazemi died on July 11, 2003, a source in the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security told him about her abuse and killing.
“I reported that she didn’t die by accident but that it was on purpose. That they didn’t just hit her in the head but they also raped her,” he said.
Kazemi was killed in an Iranian prison in 2003.
“I wrote the report, a story about her in Iran, but my editor didn’t want to put it in the paper.”
Ms. Kazemi, 54, a dual Canadian and Iranian citizen living in Montreal, went to Iran to photograph anti-government demonstrations.
She was arrested and thrown into prison; 19 days later she died there.
At first the Iranian government said she had a stroke during questioning; then she had fallen and hit her head. Five days after her death, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran’s vice-president, admitted she died from a beating.
Soon afterward, police came to Mr. Khalilzadeh’s newsroom and his home.
“They said, ‘If you want to put this in the paper, we are going to kill you,’ they said they were going to put me in jail for life. They threatened me. I was scared of them.”
He hid for three months outside Tehran, before crossing into Turkey. Then, he flew to Canada, using a forged passport.
“I came because this is a free country. I thought they would believe me and help me and appreciate what I did,” he said.
The Immigration and Refugee Board found evidence of his account lacking and did not believe Iran would still be after him when the basic account of Ms. Kazemi’s death had been admitted.
Mr. Khalilzadeh appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Canada but the case was dismissed.
“It was reasonable for the panel to find that there was no tangible evidence that the Iranian authorities were looking for the applicant … and that, even if this were the case, no evidence was put forward regarding the nature of the penalties that the applicant would face today,” wrote Federal Court Justice Luc Martineau.
His lawyer, Annie Bélanger, was dismayed.
“When I read it, I was surprised. This is very bad,” she said.
“Anybody who [the Iranian authorities] believe had the slightest information on this situation would be pursued. Back in those days, when this was happening, it is impossible not to believe he wouldn’t be targeted. Even today they would be targeted because [Iran] is trying to change their story on what happened.”
Stephan Hashemi, Ms. Kazemi’s Montreal-based son, did not return messages seeking comment. His lawyer, Mathieu Bouchard, said he was unaware of Mr. Khalilzadeh’s case, but was interested in knowing more.
Mr. Hashemi is suing Iranian authorities for damages in his mother’s death. Iran lost a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court, which it appealed to the Quebec Court of Appeal.
That appeal is expected to be heard in next year.
By then, Ms. Bélanger said, her client may well be back in Iran.