Archive for the ‘Arsham Parsi’ Category
I recently wrote an article for Gay City News about 12 Iranian youths now threatened with or sentenced to execution for “sodomy”. Now I’ve just received the following press release from my friend Arsham Parsi, the Iranian gay activist:
Today, five human rights advocacy groups in five Western nations announced the official launching of the 346 No Executions campaign, a coordinated worldwide effort to inspire at least 346 citizens in each member nation to submit letters of petition to their respective foreign ministries, specifically requesting that diplomatic pressure be applied to the government of Iran to abolish its death penalty. The Iranian regime routinely carries out government-sanctioned executions in arbitrary, capricious and inhumane fashion to homosexuals, women, young girls, religious minorities, minors and now Green protesters, all of which are in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory.
The five participating groups in the 346 No Executions campaign to date are: The Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils (Canada, United States), OutRage! (United Kingdom), The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation (Germany) and the Everyone Group (Italy). The participants hope to recruit more human rights groups in other countries to the campaign as word spreads. ‘346’ is derived from the official figure of executions carried out in Iran in 2008, according to the latest Amnesty International report.
Mr. Arsham Parsi, who represents the campaign as communications director of the Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils, recently stated that AI’s official figure of 346 does not accurately reflect the actual number of executions carried out annually by the Iranian regime:
“Three-hundred and forty-six is a conservative estimate,” Mr. Parsi stated in a recent interview. “The unofficial number is likely much higher. Iran must stop taking innocent lives in such cavalier, arbitrary and brutal ways. Our campaign’s mission is to petition member governments to apply diplomatic pressure on Iran to cease and desist with these barbaric and unjust executions.
“It is the express goal of the 346 No Executions campaign to bring these arbitrary executions in Iran to an end. We seek to do this through letters of petition and by expanding the campaign to other nations, particularly in the European Union. Many EU member states conduct a great deal of commercial trade with Iran, yet the EU is also signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This dichotomy between principles and actions represents a clear conflict of interest in the EU vis-a-vis trade with Iran and the fundamental human rights EU member nations swore to uphold in the Universal Declaration.
“It is our hope that these letters of petition will compel as many governments as possible to address the situation in Iran, and will as a result apply diplomatic pressure on the regime to uphold its own legal, moral and human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration. We also hope that by increasing awareness of this intolerable situation in Iran to concerned citizens and human rights advocacy groups around the globe, that even more governments will pressure Iran. There is great strength in numbers.”
For more information on the 346 No Executions Campaign, members of the press and the media are welcome to inquire further at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.noexecution.com.
If you are a member of a human rights organization or NGO and would like launch your own 346 No Executions campaign in your country, we will gladly assist you.
Please contact Mr. Arsham Parsi direct at email@example.com.
A letter to His Majesty The King Harald V of Norway , the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Chief Justice Topre Schei, the minister of Justice Knut Storberget, the Immigration Appeals Board of Norway – Utlendingsnemnda and the Norwegian Ministers and Parliamentarians.
28th Jan 2010
His Majesty The King Harald V the King Of Norway
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Minister of Justice Knut Storberget
The Immigration Appeals Board of Norway
Honorable Norwegian Ministers and Parliamentarians
The European Parliament
The European Commission
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
we are contacting you to request your assistance on a very urgent case involving Asghar Hedayati a gay Iranian, who is currently in Norway. We received some information about him through the IRanian Railroad for Queer Refugees, based in Toronto, Canada.
Asghar Hedayati is a citizen of Iran, with case number DUF 2003 046 114 08. He escaped Iran in 2003 because of his well-known fear of persecution on basis of his sexual orientation. He applied for asylum in August 2003, but the Norwegian Government unfortunately denied his asylum status for several times and he is now at risk for deportation.
His asylum judge said that he can live in Iran if does not ‘come out’, which is against fundamental human rights. We would like to express our deep concern about his situation, as he will experience imprisonment, torture, and even execution upon his forced return to Iran.
We are urging you to reconsider this case under the spirit of respect for human rights and we are requesting you to grant Iranian queer refugees the full state of asylum in Norway because there a lot of evidence that Iranian queers in Iran are threatened because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro,
Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson
We request your assistance with an urgent case involving Mehdi N., a 29-year-old gay Iranian who seeks asylum in Germany.
Mehdi N. escaped from Iran at the beginning of 2007 due to his well-known fear of persecution on the basis of his sexual orientation. He stayed in Istanbul, Turkey for six months, but was unaware of his ability to apply for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Turkey. At that time, he was also uninformed about the existence of the IRanian Queer Railroad and our ability to support him.
Mehdi N. was lonely in Turkey. His biggest fear was that Turkish police would arrest him and deport him back to Iran. Eventually, someone took him to Germany where he sought to claim asylum.
“When I got to the airport, I introduced myself to police. I told them that I am gay and am seeking asylum. The police officer then shouted, ‘what are you doing here?!’ I feared death, and then started to cry,” Mehdi N. wrote in his letter to the IRQR.
While in Iran, Mehdi N. was forced to live in the closet, hiding his sexual identity from his family and society. He was raped by his boyfriend and sexually abused by his boyfriend’s friends. Mehdi N. was forced to have sex with his boyfriend while the friends filmed the action using a cell phone camera without his knowledge or consent.
“They sent the clip of me having sex with him to others. Many of my friends who received the video had no previous knowledge about my sexual orientation. I was in a very risky situation. They sent the clip to my family as well. I prefer not to talk about the experience and what I suffered,” Mehdi N. said.
He still cannot disclose his sexual orientation in Germany. He fears deportation because his claim for asylum has been refused several times. If deported back to Iran, he will face persecution, punishment, or even death.
“In Iran, one of my biggest challenges was having to deny my sexual orientation. Now, in Germany, the hardest challenge is to prove it,” Mehdi N. said.
At court, Mehdi N. was ridiculed and disparaged by his judge.
“The judge asked me how it was possible that I could be a 28-year-old gay man without my family knowing about it. I explained that I was good at denying my sexual orientation and was careful to avoid consequences from my behavior. The judge explained to me that in Germany, if a man does not have a girlfriend, everyone knows he is gay. I replied that circumstances are not the same in Iran, but unfortunately he didn’t believe me. The judge said ‘I have had many gay people come here and sit in front of me. They looked like gays, but I do not have this feeling about you,’” Mehdi N. said.
After his trial, Mehdi N. received a letter from the court, which said that his refugee status was not granted. He must now leave Germany.
Mehdi N. should be granted refugee status by the German government, because upon his forced return to Iran, he will face imprisonment, torture, and even execution. On February 10, 2009, the European Commission affirmed that persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation is a legitimate justification for an asylum claim. The Commission has confirmed that there is “an obligation on Member States to grant refugee status to persons who are found to have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group, including a group based on a common characteristic of sexual orientation.”
“They used to pay me 176 Euros for food and daily expenses, but they have no subtracted 41 Euros as a fine. I live off of just 135 Euros per month. Most importantly, I am suffering here,” Mehdi N. said. “There are about 70 people living in this home. Every few days, they come to deport some people back. I expect death whenever I hear someone knocking on the door. I have no permission to leave this city, no rights to have a bank account, no rights to travel, and no rights to do anything. I do not exist in Germany. I just want to be a free human without any fear of persecution or punishment.”
Mehdi N. is in an unjust situation and needs your urgent action. Please show your support by writing to the Deutsch government to urge them to grant refugee status to Mehdi N. You may copy and paste the sample letters (below) into an email and send it to the provide emails below or you may write your own letter in support of Mehdi N.
Send your letters to:
BMI – Federal Minister of the Interior Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble
Address: Alt Moabit 101 D10559 Berlin
Phone: +49 3018 681-0
Fax: +49 3018 681-2926
BMJ – Federal Minister of Justice Ms. Brigitte Zypries:
Address: Mohrenstraße 3710117 Berlin
Phone: +49 1888 580-0
Fax: +49 1888 580-9525
European Justice & Human Rights Spokeswoman Ms. Sarah Ludford:
European Parliament, Brussel
Fax: + 3222849104
Please CC IRQR firstname.lastname@example.org for tracking purposes. Thank you for your support.
In addition, if you or your organization is interested in hosting an event to support Mehdi and other Iranian gay refugees, please contact Arsham Parsi at email@example.com as soon as possible. Thank you for your support.
Related Article: http://www.irqr.net/English/195.htm
IRanian Queer Railroad – IRQR
414-477 Sherbourne St.
Toronto, On – M4X 1K5
– – – – – – Sample Letter – – – – –
To: Minister of Interior, Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Justice, Ms. Brigitte Zypries, email@example.com
European Justice & Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ms. Sarah Ludford, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: IRQR, email@example.com
Subject: Germany threatens to deport Mehdi N. to Iran – Urgent need for action
I am contacting you to request your assistance on a very urgent case involving Mehdi N., a gay Iranian, who is currently in Germany. I received some information about him through the IRanian Queer Railroad, based in Toronto, Canada.
Mehdi N. is a citizen of Iran, with case number 5265469-439. He escaped Iran in early 2007 because of his well-known fear of persecution on basis of his sexual orientation. He applied for asylum in July 2007, but the Deutsch Government unfortunately denied his asylum status and he is now at risk for deportation.
His asylum judge did not believe that he was gay due to the fact that he didn’t look like other gay individuals and the fact that Mehdi N.’s family was unaware of his homosexuality. I would like to express my deep concern about his situation, as he will experience imprisonment, torture, and even execution upon his forced return to Iran.
I am urging you to reconsider this case under the spirit of respect for human rights and I am requesting you to grant this person the full state of asylum in Germany.
Last year in Iran on December 5, 2007 Makvan Mouloodzadeh 21-years old was executed. Homophobia runs deep into Iranian society. This, of course, partly reflects the influence of the conservative Islamic legal and religious standards promoted by the government.
Within the region, Iran is distinguished by the overt severity of the penalties; it imposes on consensual, adult homosexual conduct. Lavat, or sodomy, is punishable by execution on the first offence, regardless of whether the partner is passive or active. Article 111 of the Islamic Penal Code states that, “Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will.” Death is also the punishment for the first offence involving sex between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. According to Articles 121 and 122 of the Penal Code, Tafkhiz (the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks, or other forms of non-penetrative “foreplay” between men) is punishable by one hundred lashes for each partner. Upon a fourth conviction of Tafkhiz the punishment is death. Article 123 of the Penal Code further provides that, “if two men who are not related by blood lie naked under the same cover without any necessity,” each will receive ninety-nine lashes.
According to Iran’s Penal Code, an accused person can be convicted of sodomy if he reiterates a confession to the act four times, or if four “righteous men” testify that they have witnessed the act. The Code also offers ways to circumvent this nominally high standard of evidence. Judges may lodge a conviction for sodomy based on “the knowledge of the judge,” in practice allowing a wide range of circumstantial evidence to be adduced as proof. Furthermore, the practice of torture is prevalent in Iran, and the practice of torturing prisoners to extract confessions is common. Forced confessions are openly accepted as evidence in criminal trials.
The death penalty for lavat does not merely exist on paper: it is practiced and enforced. Trials on morals charges in Iran are held in camera; yet, international outrage over the frequency of executions (Iran has the second highest rate of executions per capita in the world) has led the government to exercise tight controls over press reporting of the death penalty. For these reasons, confirming the frequency of executions for lavat is effectively impossible.
On December 5, 2007, Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison. He was found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was as young as 13 years old. At his trials, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. The Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran and the Supreme Court nonetheless found him guilty and sentenced him to death. This ruling directly violated various legal codes of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Makvan was born on March 31, 1986, making him a minor back in 1999, at the time of the alleged crime. Article 113 of the Islamic Penal Code declares: “If a minor sodomizes another minor, both should be punished by up to 74 lashes, unless one of them is forced to do so.” Since the alleged sodomy happened when the defendant and his alleged partners were 13 years old, the death penalty was not technically applicable to this case. Although all the alleged witnesses and victims dismissed the sodomy charges, the defendant pleaded not guilty and there was no medical examination conducted to verify the case, the judge employed the “Knowledge of the Judge” clause as a way to prove sodomy in this case. This case caused an international uproar. In response to mounting public pressure, and following a detailed petition submitted to the Iranian Chief Justice by Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s lawyer, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, nullified the impending death sentence. The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land. However, in defiance of the Chief Justice, the judges ultimately decided to ratify the original court’s ruling and ordered the local authorities to carry out the execution. This case is a clear example of how convictions of sodomy can be obtained despite the absence of any credible evidence.
We are in 21st centaury but still discrimination for queer community do exist. Unfortunately in most of international reports about Iran, governments and United Nations are pointing to all human rights violation except queer people who are facing persecution on base of their sexual orientation.
Few days ago, France, on behalf of a member of the European Union, has tabled a resolution at the United Nations as the UN marks the 60th anniversary of its Declaration on Human Rights calling for governments worldwide to decriminalize homosexuality. The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt the resolution on December 10. If adopted, it will be non-binding on member states.
IRanian Queer Railroad would like to express its support and urges governments and United Nations to adopt this resolution because queer rights are human rights.
IRanian Queer Railroad – IRQR
Translated by Ava
At 2 am on Saturday 15th November, Saeed attempted suicide by swallowing many pills. He was taken to the emergency room at the hospital. He was in critical condition and in a coma. Due to his comatose state the doctor did not wash out his stomach. They could not give him a vomit-inducing agent because of the potential danger. The deep coma could prevent him from vomiting. Since he had overdosed and the amount of pills he had taken was so large they did not want to take any risks.
They transferred Saeed to ICU so he could be placed in intensive care. They attached an oxygen mask to him until Sunday morning close to noontime when he gained consciousness. The risk of side effects to the kidney and lungs was high so they kept him under treatment and monitoring. He was given antibiotics to prevent infection.
Later in the day they transferred him to a different section where his medical treatment continued and he was placed under supervision of the mental health team to make sure he would not try to escape.
Around 5 in the evening the mental health team came to see him and after speaking to him decided to transfer him temporarily to the Mental Health Hospital so he could be watched over incase he made another attempt at taking his life. On Friday he was transferred to the Mental Health Hospital where he resides at the moment and is under surveillance.
At this point I should mention that in the past few months Saeed has been under intense emotional stress. He was dealing with the uncertainty of his refugee application and being ignored by Home Office. On the other hand he didn’t have a work permit and received little money from *social office*. He applied multiple times for a driver’s license and was refused because he did not have a passport or visa. He had a difficult time in the house he had been given, as his housemates would ridicule and belittle him because of his sexuality. This caused him to complain repeatedly to the office that supported him but they did nothing. (Paolo is aware of this situation)
Let me remind you of the background details of Saeed’s situation in case you don’t remember:
In 1999 when Saeed was 36 years old, due to his homosexuality and the problems it created for him in Iran, he fled Iran and went to the UK where he applied for refugee status. But his claim was ignored until in 2003 they rejected his appeal in court without granting him a lawyer, cut all his support, and gave him a deportation order. Numerous lawyers refused to take on his case until it gained some attention and was picked up again and pursued until, as you know, in 2006 Home Office arrested him and took him to a detention centre in Oxford. He was there for 10 days. With much support including those of IRQR and other friends they released him but without providing any support or work permit. They also demanded that once a week he goes to London to sign documents attesting to his presence.
A few weeks later, after he had requested that they space out the times he was required to provide a signature, Home Office sent Saeed a letter informing him that during the appointment they have given him officers will be going to his home and tagging his feet. (This is a police foot tag with radar and security alarm, which goes off if the person wearing it walks beyond the geographic limits legally assigned to him. If home office wants to arrest that person they locate him through the radar and publically embarrass him by turning his alarm on.)
Saeed was suffering from extreme skin allergies, which his doctor assigns to a reaction to metal, or any other potential allergenic triggered by the emotional and psychological pressures he is dealing with. Saeed’s doctor sent a letter to Saeed’s lawyer and to Home Office, preventing them from attaching the tag on Saeed’s foot.
After a long time of being homeless and sleeping on the street Saeed received some financial support and was given a place to stay. His housemates made his stay there unbearable. Moreover, ever since Saeed’s release from detention centre right up till this very day, every letter his lawyer has sent to Home Office has gone unanswered. Home Office does not respond at all and their dismissal of Saeed is very hard on him.
All these pressures and the toll of not seeing his family for 9 years caused him to try and end his life.
I visit him every day but he is not emotionally stable and says he does not want to live anymore. He doesn’t regret his attempted suicide and is likely to try again at any moment if he finds an opportunity.
This is why they have taken him to the Mental Health Hospital so they can control him and protect him so he will not have personal freedom and access to things he could use for suicide.
A friend of Saeed
IRanian Queer Railroad – IRQR
PH4-150 Graydon Hall Drive
M3A 3B3 Canada
Mehdi must stay demo
Iran’s homophobic persecution condemned
Call to reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees
London – 25 March 2008
Over 120 protesters braved hail and rain to demand that gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be granted refuge in the UK.
They also urged asylum for the Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other gay Iranians who are at risk of deportation back to Tehran.
There were calls for a “fundamental reform” of the way the Home Office treats LGBTI asylum applicants.
The demonstration took place opposite the Prime Minister’s residence, Downing Street, on Saturday 22 March.
See photos of the protest:
(credit: OutRage! – free use, no charge)
“The British government had ordered Mr Kazemi to be deported back to Iran,” said protest speaker Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.
“Following worldwide protests, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, has agreed to review Mehdi’s case. While there is no guarantee that this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful that he will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this will result in Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK.”
Saturday’s protest was sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, with the support of OutRage!
The protest’s three main demands were:
– Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to Iran
– Iran’s homophobic laws violate human rights
– Give the victims of homophobic persecution the right to settle in the UK
Peter Tatchell told the rally:
“There needs to be a fundamental reform of the way the Home Office processes LGBTI asylum applications.
“The government is currently failing LGBTI refugees:
“Asylum staff and adjudicators receive race and gender awareness training but no training at all on sexual orientation issues. As a result, they often make stereotyped assumptions: that a feminine woman can’t be a lesbian or that a masculine man cannot be gay. They sometimes rule that someone who has been married must be faking their homosexuality.
“The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum. This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by LGBTI people are not as worthy as those based on persecution because of a person’s ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.
“The Home Office country reports on homophobic and transphobic persecution are often partial, inaccurate and misleading. They consistently downplay the severity of victimisation suffered by LGBTI people in violently homophobic countries like Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Algeria and Jamaica.
“Cuts in the funding of legal aid for asylum claims means that most asylum applicants – gay and straight – are unable to prepare an adequate submission at their asylum hearing. Most solicitors don’t get paid enough to procure the necessary witness statements, medical reports and other vital corroborative evidence.
“The Home Office has failed to take action to stamp out anti-gay abuse, threats and violence in UK asylum detention centres. Some LGBTI detainees report suffering homophobic or transphobic victimisation, and say they have failed to receive adequate protection or support from detention centre staff,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
Photos of the protest can be viewed and used free of charge for publication from the OutRage! photo website:
Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:
The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case. Mr Kazemi, 19, had failed to gain asylum in the Netherlands. Ms Smith said:
“Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands.”
The European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s Case (March 14, 08)
MEHDI, IRANIAN GAY: AFTER THE CAMPAIGN BEGUN BY EVERYONE GROUP AND RADICALS, EXTRAORDINARY INTERVENTION BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
URGENT EUROPEAN RESOLUTION APPROVED FOR MEHDI KAZEMI
News has just come in from Bruxelles that the European Parliament has approved with 60 votes (46 in favour, 2 against and 12 abstentions) an urgent resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi – the 19-year-old Iranian gay – member of EveryOne Group – who is about to be extradited from Holland to the United Kingdom. He risked immediate deportation from London to Teheran, where the death sentence awaits him because of his homosexuality.
Signed by 142 Euro MPs and 62 Lords of the British House of Lords, the European Parliament resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case was approved after EveryOne Group (www.everyonegroup.com), (together with the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, and the associations Certi Diritti and Nessuno Tocchi Caino), had requested urgent action from the European Union in an attempt to save the young man’s life. In the text, (which in the next few hours will be sent to the European Commission, the European Council, the Member States, the UN High Commission for Refugees and to Mehdi Kazemi himself), they ask Holland and the United Kingdom to “find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK;
“Before our intervention, Mehdi had attempted in every way to avoid deportation to the scaffold, but it was only the incredible success of the campaign we set in motion, (together with the collaboration of the Radicals and Euro MPs Marco Cappato and Marco Pannella, the first signatories of the resolution), that has prevented, at least for the present, Mehdi being murdered,” commented Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, the leaders of EveryOne Group, which took on the case from the beginning and raised the alarm. “This time,” (explain the activists of EveryOne, who were also involved in the campaign to save Pegah Emambakhsh, the Lesbian Iranian refugee – who still risks deportation from London, seeing the Home Office has still not reached a decision on her appeal), “we did not ask people throughout the world to send flowers to Jacqui Smith or to Gordon Brown, because the highest British authorities have shown to have no respect for human life. Sending an innocent 19-year-old boy to die with a rope around his neck, is for them, just a bureaucratic procedure.”
The EveryOne Group campaign, which was set in motion after Mehdi’s uncle and some of his acquaintances approached the activists for help, was aimed at involving the international press first of all, and in the following stages the most important European institutions and the UN High Commission for Refugees. “Right from the beginning the campaign has achieved unexpected results,” say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, who have unsettled those responsible for the deportations. In the space of a few days the world’s main television channels have answered the appeal – the BBC, ABC, SKY News, CCN, and the London-based RAI, as well as the world’s major newspapers, Corriere della Sera, El Paìs, the Independent, Times and Guardian. Thanks to this extraordinary interest from the media, it was not difficult to bring to the attention of the international institutions, (starting with the European Parliament), that a persecution against homosexual refugees and other refugees is underway in the United Kingdom. It will now be difficult for the deportations of Mehdi Kazemi and Pegah Emambakhsh, (who is also mentioned in the European resolution), to take place, even though the United Kingdom’s attitude towards refugees should keep us on the alert. It is a situation that requires immediate intervention from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees”.
IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO
After the historical approval of the European Resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi (see below) the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, decided a few hours ago to suspend the procedure that would entail deportation to Iran for Mehdi Kazemi, the young Iranian gay, member of EveryOne Group (www.everyonegroup.com).
What happened today is the result of the international intervention which saw EveryOne Group with the Nonviolent Radical Party and the associations Nessuno Tocchi Caino and Certi Diritti on the front line.
“When we took on the task of trying to save Mehdi”, say the leaders of EveryOne Group, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, enthusiastically, “the young Iranian boy faced deportation and death on the scaffold in Iran. Then we and our allies found ourselves flanked by a network of solidarity which prevented yet another crime against human rights. It is the first step towards a society that is no longer indifferent, a society that is capable of respecting the rights of refugees who are the weakest link in humanity.
We have to express our deepest satisfaction at this important victory on the field of human rights, which has resulted in the saving of a human life and written an important page in European history: from now on the highest authorities will guarantee that in all the Member States Directive 2004/83/CE is applied, which calls for the recognition of refugee status also for people persecuted in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation.
“It is a triumph for human civilization”, conclude the leaders of EveryOne, “a prelude for our next campaigns, the aims of which are to safeguard refugees and other persecuted minorities.
While we celebrate the saving of a life, however, we must continue to fight so that nations travel along the road of human rights and abandon persecutions and injustices which are the legacy of ages we have to leave behind us.”
Activists Peter Tatchell and Arsham Parsi explain the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News (12 March 2008) item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.
He lived a marginalized and terrorized life as an Iranian homosexual in Iran; the burden of such a life became so strenuous that he finally left Iran for the UK with a student visa. Mehdi Kazemi is another Iranian gay refugee who left his home country with the hope of securing a more dignified life for himself in the West; and yet he is another young refugee who sees his hopes for safety and human dignity fading in the face of European governments’ lack of respect for even the most basic human rights. The European governments claim to be the champions of human rights and democracy and condemn Iran frequently for its violation of human rights; and yet they willingly pave the road for the government of Iran to go ahead with its human rights abuses, and arrest and execute an identified Iranian gay. Today, they sentence Mehdi to torture and possible death by deporting him to Iran, and tomorrow they issue statements commending this violent and unlawful act of execution.
Time after time we have read the statements of European governments against the Islamic Republic of Iran: “The Republic does not respect human rights” and yet these European powers deport Medi to the very government they criticize for violating gay rights. It must be known that such acts of deportation equally violate human rights. The UK government deports Mehdi Kazemi to Iran despite the well-known fact that there is a serious risk of his prosecution, torture and execution.
European governments in general and the UK government in particular must immediately change these oppressive anti-refugee policies and must make a serious effort in protecting the rights of human beings.
Mehdi Kazemi should not be deported back to Iran.