National Review Online
Terror, inside and out.
NRO Contributing Editor
Two summers ago, a middle-aged
Iranian-Canadian journalist named Zahra Kazemi
was arrested in Tehran while taking photographs of
regime hoodlums beating up young people who were demonstrating for freedom.
A few days later she turned up dead in a local military hospital. The
regime denied requests from the family and the Canadian government to
examine the body, insisted that she had fallen in her prison cell and died
of injuries to her head, denied that anyone had beaten her, and hastily
buried her without any proper autopsy.
The Kazemi family never believed the regime's
story, but efforts to get at the truth were predictably fruitless. Until
now. Dr. Shahram Azam,
a medical doctor who has just been granted asylum in Canada, has presented a firsthand
account of the terrible death of Zara Kazemi. He says he examined Kazemi
in a military hospital in Tehran on June
He says he found horrific injuries to her entire body that demonstrated
torture and rape. By the time he examined her — an examination limited by
the Islamic republic's sexist restrictions that made it illegal for a male
doctor to look at her genital area — Kazemi was
unconscious and her body was covered with bruises. According to Dr. Azam, she had a skull fracture, two broken fingers,
missing fingernails, a crushed big toe, a smashed nose, deep scratches on
her neck, and evidence of flogging on her legs and back.
"I could see this was caused by torture," Azam
told Canadian journalists. He added that the nurse who examined Kazemi's genitals told him of "brutal
damage." He believes she was tortured and raped. If he is correct, we
can add Zara Kazemi to
a long list of women who have been brutalized by the mullah's torturers.
The Canadian government, which briefly recalled its ambassador to Iran to demonstrate its anger when Kazemi died, is now hastily attempting to look tough. Foreign
Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew condemned Iran for not holding a legitimate
trial. "This new evidence, while gruesome, simply reinforces our
position that this was not an accident. The family needs answers, Canadians
want answers and we will not stop pursuing this case until justice is
This is the sort of talk one hears from government officials who have no
intention of doing anything serious. Listen to Canadian Justice Minister
Irwin Cotler: "The Kazemi
case is a case study of whether Iran is finally going to come clean,
become accountable and show that is a citizen of the international
community," Cotler said. "If they don't
respond properly, and accountably in this instance
then they will expose themselves for all the world to see as an outlaw
The point, however, is that the mullahs have long "exposed
themselves" as an outlaw nation. The question is whether the Western
world, including the United States, is going to do the one thing
required to render justice: Support those Iranians who want to free their
people from the grips of this murderous regime.
The brutal treatment of Iranian women by the mullahcracy
is a daily occurrence, not an isolated case. As "Iran Focus"
reported on March 2, "at least 54 Iranian girls and young women,
between the ages of 16 and 25, are sold on the streets of Karachi in
Pakistan on a daily basis," according to "a senior women's
affairs analyst...speaking to a state-run news agency." The analyst, Mahboubeh Moghadam, added
that there are at least 300,000 runaway girls in Iran right now, the result, in Moghadam's words, of "the government policy which
has resulted in poverty and the deprival of rights for the majority of
people in society."
Professor Donna M. Hughes, at the University of Rhode Island, one of the few Western
scholars courageous enough to keep reporting on these horrors, says that
the enslaved women are typically sold to people in the Arab countries of the
such as Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. But the slave trade is not
limited to the Islamic world:
Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings
operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain and Turkey as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women
and girls, gave them fake passports, and
transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a
16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old
European national for $20,000."
Moghadam suggested (and remember that this does
not come from a samizdat network, but from a broadcast on national radio)
"that such a task was very difficult to carry out without some sort of
As I have lamented these many years, the one word that constantly recurs in
accounts of life in Iran is "degradation." This
degradation is both physical and moral, encompassing the steady breakdown
of the national infrastructure (especially the roads), the health of the
people, drug addiction, prostitution, and ubiquitous corruption, from
government ministers on down. And as Natan Sharansky reminds us, the regimes that support terror
also direct terror at their own people, and thus it is no accident that Iran is at once the world's leading
supporter of international terrorism and one of the cruelest oppressors of
its own people.
President Bush and his team of self-declared democratic revolutionaries
have done a lot of talking about supporting the Iranian people, but they
haven't delivered on their promises. As they talk, the toll mounts, from
Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to Canadians brutally murdered
in Tehran, to the oppression and exploitation of the
Iranian people, above all the women.
Faster, please. It's getting embarrassing, you know.
— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor,
is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is
resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.