Archive for the ‘EveryOne’ Category
URGENT CALL TO ACTION
Italy, February 18th, 2010
ITALY, TWO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FROM EVERYONE GROUP RECEIVE A PENAL ORDER (A CRIMINAL CONVICTION WITHOUT GOING TO TRIAL) FOR THEIR HUMANITARIAN WORK: “IT IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE WORLD”
THE NEWS GIVEN BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: “A CONVICTION BASED ON INACCURATE EVIDENCE GIVEN BY A POLICE OFFICER. IT IS THE UMPTEENTH EPISODE OF ABUSE OF POWER BY THE ITALIAN AUTHORITIES”
EVERYONE GROUP APPEALS TO THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND THE FRONTLINE FOUNDATION: “WE ARE ASKING FOR SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, VICTIMS IN ITALY OF VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION AND JUDICIARY ABUSE OF POWER, A WORSE SITUATION THAN IN TOTALITARIAN REGIMES WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL IS AT LEAST GUARANTEED THE RIGHT TO DEFEND HIMSELF
On February 12th, 2010, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau, co-presidents with Matteo Pegoraro of EveryOne Group, international human rights organization based in Italy, received notification of a penal order, with the prison sentence commuted into a heavy fine. In the decree, issued on 5/11/09 by the Pesaro Justice Court – Office of the Magistrate for Preliminary Investigations – condemns the activists for the offence punishable by art. 110, 340 of the Italian Criminal Code, because on December 20th, 2008 “in complicity with each other, they caused the interruption, or at least disturbed a police operation aimed at identifying three foreign citizens, and used abusive and disparaging language towards the officers from Pesaro-Urbino Police Headquarters, and interfered in the carrying out of their duty.”
“It is the umpteenth episode of abuse from the authorities (and in particular from the Police Headquarters) we have been subjected to in Pesaro and in Italy” say the co-presidents of the Group. ”Throughout 2008 and in the early months of 2009 we were repeatedly summoned to police headquarters because of our humanitarian work in defence of the Roma community living in our Country”.
After the protests of our Organization for the endless camp clearances of Roma families (without any offer of assistance) and after our protests over the illegitimate expulsion of a group of Afghan refugees who had applied for asylum, the Pesaro Police Commissioner issued Roberto Malini a verbal warning on the following grounds: “Seeing the Roma are notorious criminals, I consider EveryOne Group part of a criminal organization and I invite it to cease its activity”. Following this warning, the activists of EveryOne Group were subjected to various episodes of intimidation and provocation, while the brutal operations aimed at driving the Roma out of the city continued. The attitude of the Police Commissioner and the anti-Roma programme carried out by the Pesaro authorities have been the subject of various Parliamentary questions, leading to the transfer of the Police Commissioner to a different detachment.
Following the camp clearance (in mid winter) of the last Roma families to take refuge in Pesaro, EveryOne Group filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the same Pesaro Justice Court – reporting both the violation of human rights and the open hostility shown towards human rights defenders.
“We were expecting the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the abuse committed by the local authorities towards the Roma community”, say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, “actions that have led to several deaths (due to the hardship suffered by seriously ill people, who were suddenly left without a shelter over their heads), miscarriages (due to the stress and fear experienced by the pregnant women faced with so many armed police officers) and serious humanitarian emergencies.
Instead, the same authorities made use of a legal instrument that exists only in Italy, an instrument that violates article 24 of the Italian Constitution. We are talking about a conviction without a trial, yet another intimidatory tool used against human rights defenders which allows an untrue statement made by a police officer to become law without the accused being given the opportunity to contradict him.
We are aware that there is a danger of falling into a legal ‘black hole’, but we have decided to oppose the sentence and we will continue to oppose it on all levels, even if this means taking the case before the European Court of Human Rights. It is a fundamental principle of civility and democracy which does not only concern this episode, but international activism as whole, and the endless obstacles and dangers involved in defending the lives and the dignity of our most vulnerable citizens”.
As for the case in question, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau say “on the evening of December 20th, 2008 a police officer was talking in an arrogant manner to a young Roma man, while his colleague waited in the patrol car in front of the bar to be served with sandwiches and drinks. We greeted the young man, Nico Grancea, who we knew very well seeing we had been offering him assistance for over year. In answer, we received from the first officer a brusque and threatening invitation to show some identification. We have had dealings with the police force for years and therefore have sufficient experience to know not to rise to the bait. The police officer took down our details without issuing any notification. The magistrates investigating the case did not listen to what the owner of the bar, Mr. Grancea, or the EveryOne activists had to say. The Pesaro investigating magistrate then decided for “a conviction without a trial”.
“Through our appeal and the relevant procedures for defending our humanitarian work” says EveryOne Group, “we intend to bring the case to the attention of the authorities in charge of protecting human rights defenders, in order for them to establish efficient organisms that defend the work of activists who are forced to operate in extremely difficult conditions”.
On February 14th, 2010 Malini and Picciau’s case was brought up by the co-president of EveryOne, Matteo Pegoraro, in Dublin, during the 5th Frontline Platform for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which EveryOne Group (the only European organization) had been invited to attend along with 99 other human rights defenders from all over the world – activists who have received several threats during the course of their human rights activities. “We are appealing to the Frontline Foundation (which protects human rights activists all over the world in cooperation with the United Nations and European institutions) to take up our case. We hope too that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, – always very alert to episodes of this kind – to immediately intervene against this judiciary abuse, which has no precedent in European activism. We will fight” says Pegoraro, “to ensure that these two human rights defenders – who have been involved for many years in difficult campaigns in defence of minority groups – are not subjected to this violation, even more so if we consider that as co-presidents of EveryOne, they were operating in Pesaro and on Italian territory on behalf of the European MP, Viktoria Mohacsi with the precise aim of investigating the behaviour of the authorities towards the Roma people in Italy.
On behalf of our group, we invite civil society, the politicians who are more alert to matters of fundamental rights, the human and civil rights associations and organizations and the European and international institutions and authorites, to express their criticism of an action that goes against all the charters on the human rights of the individual – as well as violating the international laws on the protection and freedom of action and movement of human rights defenders”.
For further information:
+39 393 4010237 :: +39 334 3449180 :: :: +39 331 3585406
www.everyonegroup.com :: email@example.com
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.
September 23, the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Libyan Ali Abdussalam Treki, opened the 64th Assembly session of the UN by holding a press conference.
During the course of the assembly some journalists asked him about his position regarding the “Declaration for the Universal Decriminalisation of Homosexuality” which was made official on December 19, 2008.
Ali Abdussalam Treki stated: “It is a very thorny argument. As a Muslim, I do not agree with it. I believe it is not acceptable for most of the world, and it is totally unacceptable for our tradition and religion”.
Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, co-Presidents of EveryOne Group, the international human rights organisation, say: “Ali Abdussalam Treki made a very serious statement which cannot in any way be justified. Like every other Member of the General Assembly, the President has a duty to represent the principles and the aims of the United Nations, according to the Charter adopted on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco with its respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedom for all the human beings (art. 1).
In fact, with such a declaration, the president of the General Assembly has legitimised the violence, the imprisonment and the death penalty for thousands of homosexual people all over the world.
Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau are appealing to the General Secretary and to the Security Council – whose duty it is to solve controversies in the General Assembly regarding the principles of the United Nations – to immediately remove Ali Abdussalam Treki from his role of President for his non-compliance to the aims and principles of the UN.
EveryOne Group is also appealing to the associations and LGBT organisations, the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the governments of the democratic countries, particularly France and Holland – who put forward the above-mentioned moratorium – to stigmatize the statements made by the President of the UN General Assembly, and to ask for the immediate removal of Ali Abdussalam Treki from the presidency of the UN General Assembly.
EveryOne Group and Friends of Pegah: “A historical victory for refugees’ rights, but now we have to block the illegitimate deportation of people persecuted because of their sexual leaning, race or ethnic group”.
EveryOne Group, Assist and the Friends of Pegah Campaign association have finally received some long-awaited news where the rights of refugees are concerned: Mrs Pegah Emambakhsh, who took refuge in Sheffield (England) in 2005 after fleeing from Iran to escape stoning due to her homosexuality, has finally been granted refugee status in the United Kingdom. “This is extremely important news”, comment the activists of EveryOne, “because when we took on the responsibility of initiating the “flowers campaign” Pegah’s fate seemed decided. In the summer of 2007 the campaign for Pegah’s life promoted by EveryOne saw the participation of thousands of people, who sent flowers and letters of support from all over the world to the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, where Pegah was awaiting her transfer to the airport from where she was to fly back to Teheran, and the executioner.
“Twice we were able to stop the flight to death, while the movement to save Pegah’s life grew day by day. The campaigners were joined by GLBT associations, the Radical Party, European political parties and intellectuals – but most of all by a multitude of citizens from all five continents who appealed to the United Kingdom to save Pegah, and to Iran to interrupt its persecution of homosexuals, dissidents and minorities”. Pegah’s case, and that of Mehdi Kazemi (another case taken up by EveryOne), was at the base of a resolution by the European Parliament which led to a significant change in the UK’s asylum laws.
“The flowers campaign for Pegah’s life and later campaigns which allowed us to block some deportations,” say the activists, “were made possible thanks to the receptiveness of the British institutions, who always pay great attention to the cases put to them by human rights groups. In each case the British Embassy in Rome acted as mediator with the British Government and facilitated the successful outcome of cases where the requests for asylum had been turned down by the immigration office. Pegah’s case has not only changed the destinies of homosexual refugees, it has also helped people who have fled from countries where horrific humanitarian tragedies are underway, like Annociate Ningaparitse and Alvin Gahimbaze from Burundi. Our group was not only able to block their deportation, it was also able to show the British Government the dramatic humanitarian situation in Burundi, which led to the consequent extension of humanitarian protection rights”.
And now the British Government has officially granted Pegah permanent asylum on British soil: a ruling that marks an important step forward in the field of refugees’ rights.
“We share this success with EveryOne, the associations, the politicians and the Friends of Pegah who have made this fantastic result possible,” comments Leslie Boulton, the president of the Friend of Pegah Campaign association, with enthusiasm and emotion. “It is a really wonderful event and a reward for the hard work we carried out, side by side, to prevent Pegah being deported back to Iran”.
EveryOne Group is at present in contact with the British Embassy in Rome, with the British Border Agency and with the government authorities appealing for humanitarian protection for G.B., a young homosexual who fled to the UK from Iraq where, since 2001, homosexuality has been punished by execution. G.B. is being helped in the United Kingdom by the Iraqi LGBT association. “The reason given by the Immigration Office for turning down his appeal is paradoxical,” say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, leaders of EveryOne. The authorities, in fact, have explained their decision by stating that a homosexual person can avoid becoming the victim of Iraq’s discriminatory laws and the death sentence simply by “being discreet about his or her sexual conduct’”.
“Even if we ignore the fact that people should be free to manifest their lifestyle as they see fit without having to fear repressive actions due to the discriminatory laws in force in their own country, the decision of the British Government (if carried out) would still put the Iraqi’s boy’s life in danger as he is already known to be a homosexual by the Iraqi authorities. And is it right to expose a homosexual refugee to the death penalty if his sexual preferences happened to be discovered?”
In the next few days EveryOne will be sending the UK Government a dossier testifying to the conditions of discrimination and persecution that homosexuals are subjected to in Iraq.
Tel: (+ 39) 334-8429527 (+ 39) 331-3585406
www.everyonegroup.com :: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pegah Emambakhsh’s Interview – BBC Radio 4 – March 8th 2008
- UK: Petition: “Urgently Review the Way LGBT Asylum Seekers Are Treated” on Downing St Website
- UK: “Gay Asylum UK” Condemns “Inhumane, Anti-Gay” Labour Government
- UK: Mehdi Kazemi, Pegah Emambakhsh, Iranian Gays and Lesbians Still Facing Deportation from the Kingdom of Fear
- Update on Iranian Lesbian Pegah Emambakhsh’s Effort to Stay in the UK
- UK: Pegah Emambakhsh is Free
- Grillini to UCOII, Unacceptable Declaration about Pegah, Homosexuality is not a Desease
- Message from Pegah Emambakhsh
- Pegah Emambakhsh – Yours Shamefully
- What Will Happen to Pegah now ?
- Pegah Emambakhsh est libre
- Message de Pegah Emambakhsh
- Ce que le cas de Pegah Emambakhsh nous apprend
- What the case of Pegah Emambakhsh teaches us
- Appel urgent au Conseil de l’Europe pour Pegah Emambakhsh
- Pegah : Yarl’s Wood sous une marée de fleurs
- Action : Des fleurs pour Pegah – Flowers for Pegah
- Pegah : L’Angleterre joue avec nos nerfs, Hans Gert Pöettering contraint d’écrire à Gordon Brown
- Message de Friends of Pegah Campaign
- Pegah : L’Angleterre ne cède pas et demande des preuves de son homosexualité
- Interview de Pegah Emambakhsh – Plutôt mourir que retourner en Iran
- Sit-in pour Pegah, lundi, devant l’ambassade britannique de Rome
- Esperia spares Pegah – Barbara Pollastrini sauve Pegah Emambakhsh
- L’Italie accorde le droit d’asile à Pegah Emambakhsh
- Save Pegah
- Le cas de Pegah Emambakhsh est désespéré
- Pegah Emambakhsh Iranian lesbian deported from UK and faces death by stoning
“Makwan: A Letter From Paradise” is a video-poem by Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau dedicated to 21-year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh who was hung in prison (Tehran) last December while the international campaign to save his life was collecting signatures and gaining momentum all over the world.
Makwan died an innocent boy. He has become a symbol, both in Iran and throughout the world, for all those who are committed to fighting the inhuman logic of the death penalty.
Thousands of activists all over the world had made a desperate appeal to the authorities and sent them white and red flowers in an attempt to stop the executioner taking his young life. At his funeral a large crowd of townspeople accompanied Makwan’s mortal remains, and prayed that his sacrifice would serve to save other human lives by inviting those in power and the judges to realise the horror of the death penalty. This video-poem was made with the support of the Moloudzadeh family, and Makwan’s Uncle Mahmoud who lives in Germany.
Two great actors have given their important contribution to the work, lending their voices to this message to humanity: Emiliano Coltorti in the Italian version; Norman Nawroski in the English version. “Makwan: a Letter from Paradise” opposes the death sentence and its terrible significance (which embodies hatred and revenge) with a respect for life; because murder constitutes, without exception, the greatest possible violation of human rights.
EveryOne Group: “A memorable success we share with the Radical Party and Nessuno Tocchi Caino (Hands off Cain). Thanks to an extraordinary campaign the regulations for granting asylum in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe have been changed. We succeeded because we refuse to accept unjust laws that ignore the value of human life”.
Seyed Mehdi Kazemi, the 20-year-old Iranian homosexual, a member of EveryOne Group who risked deportation to Teheran on several occasions (where he would have suffered imprisonment, harsh corporal punishment and probably been hung) has obtained asylum in the United Kingdom. He received notification of the decision from the Home Office on Monday May 19th, 2008. The boy had attempted to escape deportation to Teheran from the United Kingdom by fleeing to Canada, but he was stopped on the German border and transferred temporarily to Holland, a nation usually in favour of granting asylum to Iranian homosexuals. But on February 26th a flight was arranged from Amsterdam to London and it seemed that once back in the UK Mehdi risked deportation to Teheran again. “They were days of great worry as we attempted an amazing nonviolent struggle”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau of EveryOne”, “days in which we fought side by side with the Radical Party and the association Nessuno Tocchi Caino, literally inventing a new way of battling for human rights, drawing into our battle the world’s media, hundreds of associations and thousands of activists. Our first step was to block the deportation, appealing to the sense of justice of the Dutch government which agreed to review Mehdi’s case. In the meantime we also upset the expulsion system of refugees in the United Kingdom – an unjust system which was taking place among indifference and the silence of the media. Then with our friends from the Radical Party we presented a report-appeal to the European Parliament that showed without a doubt that Mehdi had a right to asylum and that serious abuse was being carried out by the Home Office itself”. The European Parliament approved an urgent resolution for Mehdi Kazemi’s case, a resolution that was also signed by 142 MPs from the British House of Commons and 62 Lords. Europe and the United Kingdom itself finally recognised the need to change the procedure for evaluating and granting refugee status and political asylum. “It was a resounding defeat for the persecutory policies of Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith,” say the leaders of EveryOne, “a defeat that marked the decline in their star – but for the rights of refugees, the gay community, for activists throughout the world, for the minorities in Iran and countries where freedom is denied, it was a victory to remember”. But the real good news for young Mehdi (whose partner Parham was murdered by the executioner in Iran) arrived on May 19th. The British Embassy in Rome, on behalf of the British Government, wrote to EveryOne Group, communicating their joy for an event that no one believed possible when we first began the campaign against the deportation of homosexual refugees from the UK, and saved from deportation (thanks to the worldwide success of the Flowers Campaign) Pegah Emambakhsh. “How can a group like yours, without funding or protection from powers high up, expect to change the attitude of one of the most powerful governments in the world?” they said. We won because we believed in what we were doing, because we refused to accept the logic of inhumanity and death.
We won because we refused to give up, because in the event of Mehdi being deported, we were willing to fly to Teheran to demonstrate with placards, appealing to the executioners to spare the lives of Mehdi and Pegah (whom we trust will also receive good news very soon) and all the innocent people condemned to death due to unjust laws that cancel out the value of human life.”
While they celebrate this news, the members of EveryOne flourish copies of the email received from the British Embassy: “We are extremely happy to communicate this news: today in London a final decision was reached on Seyed Mehdi Kazemi’s case. After a re-examination of the case and in light of the new circumstances, as requested by the British Home Secretary, Mr Kazemi is now free to remain in the United Kingdom”.
Conservative MEP John Bowis made the following powerful speech in the European Parliament in favour of the successful resolution supporting Mehdi and Pegah Emambakhsh.
Bruxelles: 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.
Full text of the European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case:
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,
– having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,
– having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualifications Directive) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 on the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,
– having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was turned down,
– having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application turned down; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,
B. whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,
C. whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mehdi’s partner has already been executed, while his father has threatened him with death,
D. whereas in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh the UK authorities decided, after international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, but whereas it is still not clear what her fate will be,
E. whereas the UK Prime Minister’s spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, gave general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,
F. whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States as regards sexual orientation,
1. Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;
2. Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;
3. Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply European and national laws and procedures in a way which results in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;
4. Appeals to the Member states involved 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; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;
5. Asks EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations, in the future, through cooperation and EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and evaluate the application of EU asylum law in Member States, and in particular as regards sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;
6. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.
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:
Activist Peter Tatchell explains 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.
Gay activists have told PinkNews.co.uk that the government need to reconsider the cases of other gay asylum seekers following the reprieve of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi’s.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday that in the light of “new circumstances” gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi should have his case reconsidered upon his return from the Netherlands, where he fled when his first application was denied.
The 19-year old, who has lived in Britain since 2005, was facing deportation and possible execution in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal.
Although the decision has been met with support, gay activists have warned that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.
Omar Kuddus, a gay rights activist who campaigned for Kazemi’s case, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The British government has for once done the right thing and given this young man a chance and hope for his future.
“There is no question of the fate awaiting Madhi if he is deported back to Iran – execution, just for being gay.
“Homosexuality is not accepted and the state kills and punishes those guilty of being gay.
“To say that homosexuals are safe as long as they are discreet and live their lives in private, is to say that Anne Frank was safe from the Nazis in World War Two as long as she hid in her attic, there is no difference.
“Homosexuality shall never be acceptable in Iran as long as the Ayatollahs and Sharia law is in place.
“I am grateful that Mehdi can now make his case and establish the true dangers awaiting him in Iran.”
The Home Office said last week that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and member of gay rights group OutRage! believes that there are dozens of other gay asylum seekers whose cases the government are refusing to review.
Mr Tatchell said:
“The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.
“The underlying problem is the government’s whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process.
“Asylum staff and adjudicators are given no training on sexual orientation and there is no explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
The growing public outcry over the issue prompted a response from the European Parliament and 60 MEPs signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Kazemi.
Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP welcomed the change of heart by Jacqui Smith, but believes the decision should have been made sooner.
Baroness Ludford said: “This is a welcome move, even if it should have come voluntarily and without the need for so much pressure.
“We must not forget other gay Iranians fearing not only their liberty but their lives, such as Pegah Emambakhsh. They deserve justice too.”
Ms Ludford has written to the Home Secretary requesting a review of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who faces deportation after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.
Ms Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain in 2005 after her girlfriend was sentenced to the death penalty, narrowly avoided deportation in August last year when her local MP Richard Caborn persuaded the government to allow her to stay while further avenues of appeal were explored.
Last month, however, the Court of Appeal turned down her application for permission for a full hearing and she now plans to apply for a judicial review at the High Court.