An Iranian is the latest journalist to become a victim of the war in Iraq. Kaveh Golestan, a cameraman with the British Broadcasting Corporation, died early today after he stepped on a landmine in northern Iraq.
Golestan, 52, was getting out of the vehicle he was sharing with 3 other BBC colleagues when he died instantly after stepping on a landmine in the northern Iraqi town of Kifri. The three colleagues he was travelling with are safe, although one of them is being treated for leg injuries in an American Military hospital in Sulaymaniya, a Kurdish-controlled town.
“Kaveh Golestan was an outstanding photojournalist who had worked in support of freedom of expression in his native Iran and elsewhere and was well known to many western news organisations,” said BBC news director Richard Sambrook.
“He was a highly experienced Pulitzer Prize winning photo journalist who will be sadly missed,” said BBC Director-General Greg Dyke.
His work during the Iranian Revolution and his coverage of the gassing of the Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War in 1988 won him the Pulitzer prize. On 16 March 1988, an estimated 5,000 Kurds in the city of Halabja were gassed to death by Saddam Hussein's army. Golestan was in Halabja shortly after the city was attacked with the chemical weapons.
“It was life frozen. Life had stopped, like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame. It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a room, a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot,” he is quoting as saying in a Financial Times article.
“The aftermath was worse. Victims were still being brought in. Some villagers came to our chopper. They had 15 or 16 beautiful children, begging us to take them to hospital. So all the press sat there and we were each handed a child to carry. As we took off, fluid came out of my little girl's mouth and she died in my arms.”
John Simpson, senior BBC editor and colleague of Golestan's, said today: “It isn't always easy for an Iranian to work for the BBC in Iran where the government regards it with habitual suspicion. Kaveh's physical courage was just as strong. I first met him at Halabja in 1988, when we were both reporting on Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against the Kurds and I have regarded him as a good friend and companion ever since. This has been a terrible war for television news.”
In his native country of Iran, Mr Golestan was already well-known as a photographer and filmmaker. He became a freelance cameraman for the BBC, mainly working out of their Tehran bureau, in September 2000. He had previously also worked for the Associated Press. He was the son of the famous filmmaker and author Ebrahim Golestan.
Kaveh Golestan is survived by his wife and 16-year-old son who live in London.