In defence of Iranian asylum seekers


Letter of the Federation of Iranian Refugees to the European Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees about the situation in Iran and the condition of the Iranian asylum seeker

Copy: human rights organizations

I am writing to put to you a few points about Iran and the condition of the Iranian asylum seekers.

When turning down the applications of the Iranian asylum seekers, as well as in reply to us, the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR), departments of refugee affairs of the governments have often state things to the effect that the cases submitted by the Iranian applicants are all fake and one cannot, therefore, believe what they say. In reviewing the cases the said offices accept many of the reasons the applicants offer to explain their escape, and yet respond to them by saying: our ministries have the condition of human rights in Iran under careful watch and so, as far as those ministries are concerned, should you return to Iran, you will not face any trouble. So, let us review the condition of human rights in Iran and see whether the country is safe and free as has been claimed by the refugee offices of the Western governments.

Khatami came to the office of the President in 1997. He had been advertised, inside and outside Iran, as a novel Islamist president. “His Excellency” too advertised himself as the representative of a smiling, perfumed-with-rose-water Islam seeking “the dialog of the civilizations” and, together the whole farcical, state-made Reformist Movement he was the figurehead thereof, made lots of empty promises for both domestic and foreign markets. Thus, simultaneously with Khatami’s taking over with such deceptive razzmatazz, incomparably more effective in the West than in Iran itself, the Western governments basically adopted a hard-line policy towards Iranian asylum seekers. They adopted this policy with the carefully calculated aim of actively supporting the rosy-depicted “reformist movement” made of “harbingers of change” from within the state machinery in Iran. That policy has remained the official policy of the Western governments for over 12 years now. It is with deep regret that we maintain that as far as the welfare of the Iranian refugee applicants is concerned, such harsh policies have caused, in a cumulative manner, the spread of physical and emotional ailments, notably depression, among a great majority of them.

Even the current mass protests in the country, that is, even witnessing the whole catalogue of obvious, horrific crimes being committed by the Islamic Republic against the people during just the past seven months, has not caused the European countries to implement a more indulgent, humane policy towards the Iranian refugees. This is happening against the backdrop of an ongoing, systematic political persecution and prosecution in Iran. Extensive individual, group and mass arrests, not only in the street but through raiding people’s homes and work locations, have been occurring on an hourly basis. Journalists’ offices, photographers’ offices, and student dormitories are raided. Student activists are persecuted and/or prosecuted on trumped up charges and sentence to the most ridiculously harsh sentences. The protesting youth are marked and, consequently, persecuted, e.g., kidnapped in the street, jailed, tortured, raped, and then even prosecuted on fabricated charges based on confessions extracted under torture. The arrests have, in quite a few cases by now, led to the slaying of the detainees. In one known case the detainee’s corps was set on fire after being tortured and raped, namely, the case of a young girl by the name of Tarane Moosavi (not related to Moosavi the political figure) whose burnt corps was found in the desert areas near Tehran. In yet another terrorist spirit a group of pro-Khamenei murderous Mullahs have declared on December 29, 2009: ‘we consider the rioting mob on the day of Ashura (December 27, 2009) concrete examples of counter-revolutionaries, the enemies of God, and [therefore] “corrupting elements on the face of the Earth”.’ They have thus demanded that the pertaining organs of the regime sentence them to the maximum punishment under the barbaric Islamic code, that is, execution. Reported news clearly state that the detainees are put through the most anti-human physical and psychological forms of torture. Raping the detainee boys and girls is being used systematically, that is, as a general official policy that consciously utilizes the “shame”, the “pain” and, in this case, the horror and therefore the silence that is supposedly associated with rape. But, incredibly enough, even this regime’s conspiracy has been defeated by its very victims. Intelligent, brave young boys and girls have stepped forward, told their stories, and exposed the tyrannical character of the regime to the whole world.

Particularly since December 27, all authorities of the regime, from Khamenei to the Minister of Intelligence, from the commanders of the thuggish militia, Basij, and the so-called Revolutionary Guards to the Imams of Friday Prayer of every city, town and village, they have all been issuing orders and Fatvas (religious decrees) threatening the people with their divine code of punishment. In a word, no objector has remained safe from, and the whole world has been shocked by, the unfathomable cruelty of this regime. As Amnesty International reports, “at least five demonstrators arrested during protests on Ashoura, 27 December, have been charged with moharebeh (enmity against God), which carries the death penalty.” Also, today, Tuesday, January 26, Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) reported that Koohyar Goodarzi and Mehrdad Rahimi, two of its seven imprisoned members who had been arrested on December 20, 2009, were charged with moharebe.

Now, I would like to ask you, the authorities of the European Union, how do you assess the prevalent political atmosphere in Iran? On the basis of what positive changes brought about by the Islamist regime towards the observation of human rights are the Iranian asylum seekers in the EU countries treated so inhumanely? Has it ever occurred to you that helping the Iranian people and Iranian refugees may actually prove to be a policy incomparably more efficient than the naïve policy of expanding relations with their enemy, that is, the policy you have followed so far hoping to somewhat “appease” the regime in Teheran? Have you ever cared about the depth and the extent of the terror that the Iranian people have suffered on a daily basis for the past 30 years in the clutches of a world-class terrorist regime, a few of whose authorities are, as you very well know, internationally wanted criminals? Do we still need to produce further evidence, that is, in addition to what you and the rest of the world have seen on television screens, on the internet, on the websites of European Foreign Ministries, the EU, the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and so on, and so forth, in order to convince you that human rights are not violated as such in Iran but simply non-existent? Is it not enough evidence that Human Rights Watch wrote in its news release of January 9, 2010, subtitled Accusations and Official Charges Place Activists at Risk of Death Penalty: ‘”The authorities should be working to ensure the rights and safety of citizens exercising their rights to gather peacefully,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, they are preparing the groundwork to impose the harshest of punishments.”’ The International Federation of Iranian Refugees has always emphasized these naked facts about Iran. Now the events of the recent months have only born them out beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt.

Prior to Ahmadinejad becoming President in August 2005, the Western governments had been willingly beguiled by Khatami, his so-called “reform movement” and “dialogue of civilizations”. But it was not even a year after he had taken the helm to save the regime with his hollow promises that the people’s protest, headed by the student movement, against the suppression of a “reformist” paper was brutally crushed, and Khatami himself called the defenders of the freedom of his own faction’s press “thugs”! From then on every single move by the people for any improvement in their condition was branded as “the Western cultural invasion” and nipped in the bud. The confrontation between the two factions over the degree or the form of oppression quickly came to an end with Khatami’s affirming his allegiance to “His Holiness the Supreme Leader” and Khamenei’s reciprocating by stating the obvious: “the two factions are the two wings of the system”, stressing the mutual necessity up until then of the stick faction and the carrot faction for the protection of the regime as a whole.

The setback inflicted by the people on the prior-to-Khatami crumbling regime was finally reversed by coming to power of Ahmadinejad and his military-security cabinet. An unprecedented degree of terrorist oppression was imposed – from suppression of the remnants of the so-called reformist press to the closure of NGO’s to the bloodiest attacks on labor, student and women’s rights activists across the political spectrum; from murdering detainees under torture such as Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian-Canadian photo journalist, and Zahra Baniyaghoob, a physician who had been arrested for holding her fiancé hand at a park, to group public hangings on cranes intended to terrorize the society at large; from extensive street attacks by the “moral police” on young boys who dared to style their hair and young women who ventured wearing colors other than black and dark brown to the most barbaric sweeping of thousands of addicts off the streets, labeled “operation combating thuggery”.

Now, the Western governments reject the Iranian asylum seekers and force them to return to Iran claiming that the condition in their country is “safe and free”, I presume? But may I ask you, the highest ranking authorities of those governments, what exactly do you consider to be the criteria for measuring safety and freedom when it comes to a country such as Iran? May I ask what changes, however small, have you observed with regard to the condition of human rights in Iran throughout the past 30 years? Do you consider a country safe and free where, as the only country in the world now, under age youth are kept in jail only to be hanged before the astounded eyes of the whole world as soon as they turn eighteen for “crimes” such as homosexuality? Do you consider Iran safe and free while, as Amnesty International sums up its report on child execution, “Mosleh Zamani’s death [on December 17, 2009] brings the number of alleged juvenile offenders executed in Iran since 1990 to at least 46.”? Do you consider a country safe and free where the state has, from the get go, denied the people, especially the women and the youth, the right to choose even the color of their clothes, and has harassed them around the clock to force its dress code on them? May I request that you search “women in Iran” on YouTube to see first hand a few gory instances of terrorism the Islamist regime has subjected the women to since day 1? There is currently a clip on YouTube in which a general of the so-called Revolutionary Guards by the name of Ghasemi explicitly, mockingly and intimidatingly talks about raping the detainees of the recent events in the usual depraved Islamic fashion, calling it “going into the Jacuzzi”. So far the names of four young detainees of the recent events killed as a result of torture in the concealed Kahrizak prison General Ghasemi is mocking about have been revealed: Mohamad Kaviyani, Mohsen Rooholamini, Amir Javadifar, and Raamin aghazade-Ghahramani. Further, I presume you have seen the video clip of the police pickup truck that ran over the protesting people at December 27, 2009 demonstration in Teheran? Now, I ask you before the people of the world who have seen only the recent episode of the terrorism of the Islamist regime against its own people, is Iran a country to be called safe and free?

As far as women are concerned, we, at IFIR, maintain that the women who escape a country in which they are deprived even of the right to attend stadiums to watch sports matches, a country in which they are legally defined as second-class citizens, a country in which gender apartheid rules in all social, cultural, political and economic aspects of life, in a word, the women who escape a land that is nothing but a large prison for them should be treated with the highest degree of respect and compassion and be granted asylum with no questions asked and solely on the basis of the fact that they are women and that they have fled the hellish atmosphere created by a barbaric, misogynist theocracy. Likewise, we insist that the youth who flee a country in which hundreds are flogged on a daily basis for having dared to hold the hand of their boy friend or girl friend, the youth who, as the world has witnessed during the past seven months, are the veritable children of the twenty-first century, flee a country ruled by pre-medieval norms and standards should be embraced by much more humane refugee policies in the EU countries. By the same token, when labor activists, journalists, authors, intellectuals, students, reporters, and so on, are arrested or even kidnapped and subjected to the most cruel forms of torture, their peers who succeed in braking out should meet with much more generous, humane refugee policies in Europe.

There are thousands of other cases of the violation of human rights that cannot, of course, be cited in this letter. I just sum up by saying that what have been violated in Iran during the past 30 years are, indeed, humans themselves rather than their rights as such. What I would like to highlight here, however, is that the Iranian regime, as the standard bearer of political Islam in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and the Horn of Africa, is not only seeking access to nuclear weapons in order to further expand its sphere of influence but is also busy creating an atmosphere of terror in the Western countries through its sidekicks in those countries by means of terrorist as well as non-terrorist acts, such as striving to put in place Islamic law, or Shari’a, on both sides of the Atlantic. From this perspective the Iranian regime has been under the spotlight as an infinitely dangerous regime for the whole global community. And the Iranian asylum seekers are the people who have fled exactly from the heart of such terrorist hell. Turning a blind eye on this simple fact by the Western governments stems from another, simpler fact, that is, not to understand, or pretend not to understand, rather, that the terrorism of the Islamist regime throughout the past 30 years has been, naturally, first and foremost against the Iranian people themselves. Yet they are not only not accepted as refugees when they escape for the fear of all the above-mentioned forms of suppression but are pressurized to return to their previous hellish conditions as they are deemed free and safe by the Western governments!

We, at IFIR, are well aware of the arguments of the used by the Western governments’ refugee departments that are based on the Geneva Convention on Refugees. Nevertheless, we insist that the said departments take account especially of the intensification of suppression under Ahmadinejad during the past five years, not be so strict and rigorous when it comes to demanding document and evidence, and adopt a policy leaning more towards respecting their human rights. What I tried to do in this letter was to establish the fact that the regime of Islamic Republic, as the source of all terrorism inside and outside Iran, is itself the most significant evidence of suppression and persecution of the Iranian people.

In conclusion, we, on behalf of thousands of Iranian refugees, request that the Western governments adopt a much more open, accommodating policy towards them. Further, we request that these governments break all diplomatic ties with the Islamist regime in Iran so that it will be completely isolated from the international community as a terrorist, oppressive, and gender-apartheid regime.

Sincerely,
Abdollah Asadi

Secretary,
International Federation of Iranian Refugees
February 03, 2010

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