Archive for the ‘Illegals’ Category
Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
15th April 2008 18:20
Biplob Hossain, a gay refugee from Bangladesh who is seeking asylum in Australia, and Joaquin Ramirez, facing deportation to El Salvador, have highlighted the plight of gay men who flee their countries to escape persecution.
Mr Hossain, 25, moved to Australia on a student visa when he was 19.
He applied for asylum on the basis that he would suffer persecution in Bangladesh. He was placed in a detention centre for 29 months.
After three rejections by the Refugee Review Tribunal and a failed High Court bid, Mr Hossain is hoping for a personal intervention from the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans.
He was released from Villawood Detention Centre in October 2006, but is not allowed to work or collect social security benefits.
Sandi Logan, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, told Australian SX News:
“A person’s sexual orientation does not of itself enable that person to be granted asylum.”
“We provide protection for asylum seekers under the UN definition of a refugee, under the Convention 67 protocol, which doesn’t include their sexual orientation or their fears of persecution associated with that orientation.”
Bangladeshi law states that gay sex acts are illegal and will be punished with deportation, fines and life imprisonment.
The national law itself is rarely directly enforced however there have been numerous reports of incidents of vigilantism.
People suspected of homosexuality have also been sentenced to death by a fatwa.
Meanwhile, in Canada, a gay man is facing deportation to his native El Salvador where he claims that three police officers who raped him are now out to kill him.
Joaquin Ramirez, a 39-year-old HIV-positive man said the accused perpetrators have visited his family and threatened to kill him because he infected them with the HIV virus.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board doubted Mr Ramirez’s claims, asking why he did not seek legal support in his own country when the incident occurred.
Mr Ramirez told Canadian newspaper The Star:
“How could I go to the same people and ask them to protect me when it’s those people who did this to me?”
Mr Ramirez worked as a volunteer outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV.
He said he was picked on by three drunken officers at a restaurant in 2006 and driven to a plantation field where he was allegedly beaten and raped.
Five months later he claims a stranger called his sister and threatened to kill him for infecting them with the virus.
The refugee didn’t believe Ramirez left El Salvador because of the alleged assault as he had already planned to leave in November 2005.
The two stories come just weeks after the much published case of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.
Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.
In 76 countries people face jail for having gay sex.
Homosexual acts officially carry the death penalty in several nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.
In many Muslim countries, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.
In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.
Some liberal Muslims, such as the members of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexuality as natural pointing out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love.
However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.
The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return refugees to a place where they would face persecution.
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:
A few hours ago we received the news that Seyed Mehdi Kazemi’s appeal for asylum has been turned down by the Dutch authorities. Medhi is the 19-year old Iranian, member of EveryOne Group who faces the death sentence in Iran for his homosexuality. The boy, who is being held in the detention centre at Rotterdam Airport was judged by the Dutch Supreme Court today. Mehdi had fled to Holland after the United Kingdom had turned down his request for asylum “Unfortunately the verdict was expected”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, the leaders of EveryOne Group, “because the Netherlands has a subjection relationship with the British Government. In spite of the international protests, Mehdi Kazemi will be sent back to the United Kingdom within the next 72 hours – starting from 2 p.m. today. From there it is very likely that the UK Home Office will decide to deport him to Iran where he faces torture and the death sentence – according to Islamic Law homosexual relations represent a crime (defined as “lavat”) a crime to be punished with the most brutal and degrading treatment, followed by hanging. The news of his imminent deportation to London comes from the Dutch Immigration Office”.
EveryOne Group has requested, through international channels, an urgent meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “The Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty and the associations Nessuno Tocchi Caino (Hands Off Cain) and Certi Diritti are working at our side to save the life of this young Iranian boy”, say the activists “and tonight or tomorrow morning a member of EveryOne Group will meet Mehdi himself in the Rotterdam detention centre. Mehdi’s story is now being reported in newspapers and from TV screens in all the civilised countries, and the campaign to save the boy is attracting new interest by the hour. “From the BBC to the CNN, from the Times to the Independent: everyone is asking us for photographs, news and details about this case, a human and civil case that shows how far we still have to travel along the road for refugees’ rights. Over 60 European MPs, hundreds of personalities from the world of politics, intellectuals of all nationalities and countless other voices have joined us in the protest against the abuses that democratic countries like the United Kingdom and Holland are committing towards innocent people, human beings who are appealing for international protection in order to avoid unjust punishment and a horrendous death on the scaffold or under a hail of stones. It seems unbelievable, and yet – while people all over the world discuss human rights and spend millions of euros organising conferences on the subject of asylum rights – once again an innocent young man like Mehdi is running a serious risk of dying with a rope around his neck because some European governments prefer to get round the laws that protect refugees rather than carry out their duties towards them”. “We have to save young Mehdi”, say the leaders of EveryOne Group, “but then we have to make sure Europe identifies and formalizes a common policy, without any loopholes, to solve the refugee problem in a humane way”.
Further details will be posted in the next few hours.
Tel: (+ 39) 334-8429527
Sunday, March 9th, 2008
GAY IRANIAN REFUGEE, EVERYONE GROUP: “UNITED KINGDOM IS A DANGER FOR ALL REFUGEES”
REPORT WILL BE PRESENTED IN EUROPE
THE UK HOME OFFICE: “GAY PEOPLE CAN RETURN TO IRAN, IF THEY ARE ‘DISCREET'”
In an article published on Friday March 7th 2008, in the The Independent, Simon Hughes, leader of the Liberal Democrats and the party’s Shadow Leader in the House of Commons, stated: “The Home Office claims that a gay person can return to Iran and avoid persecution by being “discreet”. All advice suggests that in Iran, to be discreet means that you would have to deny your identity. The punishment for giving in to personal feelings might well be nothing less than torture or death”.
The same theory had was pointed out by the members of the NNRF (Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum) years ago: “The Home Office claims that if a gay person is less obvious about being gay or lesbian they won’t attract the attention of their persecutors,” writes Richard McCance on the refugees’ association’s website.
The EveryOne Group, that, since its launch, has promoted, along with the Non-Violent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, and the Nessuno Tocchi Caino and Certi Diritti associations, a campaign in support of its member Seyed Mehdi Kazemi, is going to present a written deposition to the European Union objecting to the UK Home Office’s behaviour towards refugees claiming asylum.
“Mehdi absolutely has to stay in the Netherlands. It has been shown that the United Kingdom operates an out-and-out persecutory policy towards refugees, especially homosexuals” affirm the EveryOne Group’s leaders Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau. “The Home Office’s statements are serious, and contrary to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is to be hoped that European Authorities urgently intervene in this situation”.
“In 2004, a 29-year-old Zimbabwean, Thando Dube, was at death’s door, following a 33-day hunger strike in a UK detention camp. Her crime? Thando was a lesbian who fled to Britain to escape the well-known persecution of LGBT people in Zimbabwe. “Her asylum claim was refused,” it’s written in the EveryOne Group’s report. “In September 2003, Israfil Shiri, a gay Iranian asylum seeker, died after pouring petrol over himself and setting himself on fire in the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester, after his asylum claim was refused (in the lower and appeal court) and his deportation to Iran, where he would-have-been hanged, had been arranged. In April 2005, 26-year-old Hussein Nasseri shot himself two weeks after his asylum claim was turned down by the Home Office, refusing in this way to let himself be killed by Iranian executioners”.
However, according to the EveryOne Group not only homosexuals suffered from the British Government’s indifference: Burhan Namig, born in 1980, was deported on September 5th 2006 from the United Kingdom – where his asylum claim had been refused because “not at sea” – to Kurdistan, despite falling into a deep depression and attempting suicide. On arrival in Kurdistan, Burhan had a heart attack, as a result of the inhuman treatment received in a British detention centre. In February 2007, at least two Iraqi Kurds were deported in secret from United Kingdom to the North of Iraq on a military plane carrying medicines and other humanitarian supplies, this despite the ongoing violence in Iraq, after American military actions, and despite the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq being subject to continuous terrorist attacks and serious human rights abuses. “We take a robust approach to people who are here illegally” a Home Office spokesperson told IRR (Independent Race and Refugee News Network) last year.
The latest case is that of Ama Sumani, a 39-year-old Ghanaian woman, studying in the UK, who was diagnosed with a malignant tumour that couldn’t be treated in Ghanaian hospitals. Her asylum claim was refused by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the woman was removed, against her will, on January 9th 2008, from University Hospital, Cardiff, in a wheelchair, and repatriated. According to the Home Office, this was all carried out with “politeness and dignity”.
“All this demonstrates how the United Kingdom’s and its Home Office’s behaviour represent a danger for all refugees, all the more so for those such as Mehdi Kazemi or the Iranian lesbian Pegah Emambakshs, who face capital punishment because of their homosexuality” conclude Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau. “We ask the Dutch Authorities to immediately grant Mehdi refugee status, to avoid another life being destroyed because of the demonstrable and incontrovertible attitude of the UK to violating refugees’ rights. Finally, we ask the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to look out for the rights of refugees currently in the United Kingdom, who come from nations where they risk persecution, in order to prevent any abuse, violation and/or unjust deportation”.
For further information:
Tel: (+ 39) 334-8429527
www.everyonegroup.com :: email@example.com
A court in the Netherlands has ruled that Mehdi, the gay Iranian teenager, has to be returned to the United Kingdom, where he faces deportation back to Iran.
He fled England last spring when a Home Office tribunal dismissed his appeal against deportation.
“I was refused the right to appeal of asylum in the Netherlands because of the Dublin Treaty,” he said by telephone this afternoon.
The Dublin Treaty, or Convention, is a European Union law that prevents asylum applicants from applying in multiple members states.
“Obviously, I am very disappointed at judge’s decision.”
“My lawyer is making a final appeal to the Netherlands High Court,” he added.
Mehdi, who is 19, said that he was worried that the early decision from the court – the decision was expected to be handed down early in the New Year – meant that his deportation to the UK would be made over the holiday period.
“My main fear at the moment is that the UK Home Office would disregard appeals and send me back to Iran before any offices reopened after the holiday,” he said.
The young Iranian said he is frightened that he will be executed if he is return to Iran.
Before leaving Iran in 2004 to continue his education in England – he had a student visa issued by the UK authorities, Mehdi had a boyfriend. It was while he was in the UK, he learned that the Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend, who had given interrogators Mehdi’s name before being executed. (Click here for Mehdi’s full story)
One of the main reasons that Mehdi’s asylum appeal failed was because the tribunal “judge” found that dates on Iranian paperwork did not tally with what the teenager had said, his uncle, who lives in southern England, told UK Gay News.
The tribunal apparently refused to accept that the Iranian calendar is different from the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
See also :
Gay Iranian Teen Awaits Decision of Dutch Court Over Return to UK.
A young gay Iranian, who fled the United Kingdom in fear after his asylum application with the Home Office’s Border and Immigration Agency failed earlier this year, will be spending the festive season hoping that a Dutch court will allow him to stay in the Netherlands. (UK Gay News, December 21, 2007)
Young Gay Iranian Soon on His Way Back to UK?
Mehdi, the young gay Iranian who fled the United Kingdom in April, could be back in the country within weeks, his uncle revealed last night. (UK Gay News, October 17, 2007)
Nineteen Year Old Says ‘I Am an Iranian Gay’.
The following email has been received by the IRanian Queer Organisation in Toronto from a young gay man who was studying at school in UK and, after difficulties with the UK Home Office over asylum managed to flee England, ending up in the Netherlands. The letter is published here as written. (UK Gay News, September 26, 2007)
Don’t Leave Iranian Gays Abandoned. By Mehdi.
This article was written by a 19-years-old gay Iranian who tells how, while he was a student in London, his boyfriend back home was executed for being gay. Mehdi says he was scared of returning home and meeting the same fate when his student visa expired last year – and of his asylum application to the Home Office. (UK Gay News, April 18, 2007)
By Doug Ireland
I wrote the following article for Gay City News — New York’s largest lesbian and gay weekly newspaper — which published it today:
President George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not agree on much, but tragically they may find common ground about the disposability of Hassan Parhizkar’s life.
Since November 7, this mild-mannered 40-year-old gay Iranian businessman from Rockville, Maryland has been sitting in jail in the Frederick County, Maryland Detention Center, housed with common criminals, in the living hell of limbo between the freedom he has known since he came to the United States as a young man 17 years ago and the certain persecution, imprisonment, or worse that will be his fate as a gay man if he is sent back to Iran.
A deportation order to send him back to Iran has been issued, and any day he could be put on a plane back to Tehran, where he was born.
“I am very afraid, and so very frustrated,” Hassan Parhizkar told me in a truncated, collect telephone call from jail.
“My asylum request has never been before an immigration judge. I just don’t know what to do, I just don’t know what to do…” he added in a voice choked with tears.
“I work hard, I pay my taxes, and I live a quiet life without bothering anybody,” Parhizkar told this reporter.
Parhizkar was arrested out of the blue earlier this month during a routine visit to an immigration office. He and his attorney explained that for the past five years he fully observed the terms of a supervised probation that stemmed from a 1999 deportation order, of which he was unaware until 2002 because he had the bad fortune of hiring, back in 1992, a man fraudulently presenting himself as a licensed attorney to pursue an asylum claim. And those five years of waiting were years of unspeakable dread. Parhizkar said he has never been a burden on US taxpayers. When he came to this country, he joined his much older brother, who had emigrated to the US at the age of 17 and eventually opened a used car sales and repair business in which Parhizkar worked.
“My brother came to the US before the [1979 theocratic] revolution in Iran, and was completely Americanized, so he accepted me as I was, and never had an issue with my being gay,” Parhizkar told this reporter. “When my brother died, sadly, in 2003, he left the entire business to me. I also own the property on which it is located.”
To follow here :
24th October 2007, PinkNews.co.uk writer
The High Court in London has overturned an order that a gay man from Algeria seeking asylum in the UK should be repatriated.
The Home Office had argued the 27-year-old man, referred to as B, would be safe from persecution as long as he was “discreet” about his homosexuality.
However Mr Justice Collins disagreed, saying that B, who has been fighting to remain in the UK since 1996, was at risk of persecution.
The ruling has infuriated the tabloid press, with The Sun reporting that:
“A FAILED (sic) asylum seeker had his deportation halted yesterday – because he is too CAMP to go home.”
The judge stressed that this case was exceptional, and that he was satisfied that B is gay and would not be able to conceal his sexuality.
A medical report backed the assertion that he would not be able to reintegrate into Algerian society.
Allegations that B had over-emphasised his sexuality to stop his deportation were rejected by Mr Justice Collins.
“It may be, when the matter is investigated and tested, that conclusion could be drawn, although it is highly unlikely in the light of the evidence so far produced,” he said, according to PA.
The Home Secretary will now have to reconsider his case.
Sodomy and “outraging public decency” are both offences in Algeria and carry a prison sentence or a fine.
Gay activist group OutRage! has previously claimed there is a “serious danger” of an openly gay man such as B being murdered by Islamic fundamentalists if returned to Algeria.
France seeks to enforce deportation quotas for illegal aliens by Elizabeth Bryant, San Francisco Chronicle
It is not yet fortress France, but the welcome mat is vanishing for immigrants as lawmakers debate tougher legislation and the center-right government of President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to enforce deportation quotas for illegal aliens. The National Assembly passed a bill Thursday requiring would-be immigrants to take language and cultural values examinations. Controversial clauses in the legislation would introduce voluntary DNA testing and legalize gathering data based on race and ethnicity.
The legislation must be debated in the French Senate, but groups ranging from leftist politicians and immigration rights activists to police unions worry about enforcing stricter enforcement rules, and the Vatican is criticizing DNA testing.
“The desire to go to Europe is very strong,” said Catherine de Wenden, an immigration expert at the National Center for Scientific Research, a Paris think tank. “And the tougher the policy, the more likely it will lead to illegal immigration.”
Nearly 5 million immigrants live in France, accounting for about 8 percent of the nation’s 63 million inhabitants, according to the National Statistics Institute. The figure does not account for the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa. On Tuesday, several hundred protesters gathered in front of the National Assembly, waving banners denouncing Sarkozy and the new legislation.
“France has a tradition of immigration – it’s part of its wealth,” said Majid Messoudene, a 31-year-old Algerian from the Paris suburb of St. Denis, whose residents include a preponderance of immigrants. “Whether the government likes it or not, we’ll remain a country of immigration. And we’ll help the illegals and prevent deportations as much as possible.”
Prominent French scientists say DNA testing to determine whether foreigners applying for visas are actually related to family members they seek to join in France is unethical and illegal. Immigration activists such as Mouloud Aounit suggest the legislation reflects a “xenophobic” government.
“We can’t have immigration legislation that threatens fundamental liberties,” said Aounit, head of Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between People, a Paris-based anti-discrimination group.
But supporters argue that France needs to set immigration limits to preserve its economy and national identity.
“A responsible management of migratory flows appears the only possible policy,” Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux told parliament, as he described the country’s current integration model as a failure.
Even members of Sarkozy’s own government – including Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who has said illegal immigrants should be expelled on a case-by-case basis – have voiced reservations about the new legislation.
Still, the bill makes good on Sarkozy’s campaign promises for “chosen immigration,” favoring skilled workers who fill critical labor gaps.
“Only 7 percent of immigration today is work-related. How can people integrate in France if they don’t have work?” he said Thursday on French television.
Sarkozy, the hard-driving former interior minister – and the son of a Hungarian immigrant – helped push through two previous laws hardening the country’s immigration policy. Last year, he created much controversy by deporting illegal immigrant students – and he cracked down on rioting youths in 2005, many of whom were of Arab and African extraction.
Just this year, Sarkozy has set deportation quotas for illegal residents – 25,000 in 2007; it was 15,000 in 2004 – and his immigration minister chastised regional governors last week for failing to meet them.
But the president has also championed affirmative action – what he calls “positive discrimination” – in jobs and education.
And his new government is striking in its ethnic diversity, starting with Justice Minister Rachida Dati, the daughter of North African immigrants.
Sarkozy’s policies have played well among many French – as did the slogan he once borrowed from far-right nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen: “France, love it or leave it.”
A survey published Tuesday in Le Figaro indicated that 74 percent of those polled favor immigration quotas. Most also support French-language requirements for would-be immigrants and oppose blanket conformance to law, rules or custom by illegal immigrants, according to the OpinionWay poll.
France’s strict approach is reflected elsewhere in Europe, where many countries are requiring language testing and attempting to entice qualified foreign workers.
But some economists say Europe needs unskilled workers, given the decline in birth rates and the graying of the continent. An International Monetary Fund report says the fastest-growing segment of the population is older than 80. And studies by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration show that immigrants typically work in occupations shunned by Europeans.
But such arguments aren’t why civil servant Vincent Strobel adamantly opposes his government’s immigration policy.
“They (immigrants) should have full rights and participate fully in the construction of this country,” said Strobel as he passed out flyers against the new legislation in front of the National Assembly.
See also : Alfoussène, 9 ans, en voie d’être expulsé seul vers le Mali où il n’a aucune famille
La France nous oblige à partir vers la mort : The travel of Yekaterina et Vladimir Popov toward death :
«La France nous oblige à partir vers la mort, c’est sûr à cent pour cent. Encore plus depuis que la préfecture des Ardennes a fait faire une enquête auprès de la police du Kazakhstan, le KNB, ancien KGB.
Tout le monde peut comprendre qu’il est impossible pour nous de rentrer sans danger au Kazakhstan, où les Russes qui restent sont déjà très brimés.
Véronique et Geoffrey, nos deux enfants aussi trouveront la mort là-bas, et quelle mort ! Quand les gendarmes sont venus nous chercher, j’ai voulu laisser mes enfants à ma mère ; ils m’ont dit non, les enfants viennent avec vous.
Si on nous embarquait de force, qu’on ait au moins pitié de nos enfants, qu’ils soient confiés à ma mère.»
Michael Petrelis Page on the subject
Act Up-Paris zappe le ministère de l’immigration
What Will Happen to Pegah and to Human Rights in the UK?
By Roberto Malini, Every One Group
Dear Friends, the Campaign of Flowers, as well as the entire Campaign for Pegah, is based on the recovery of the values of brotherhood and solidarity in actions for the defence of human rights. We live in a difficult age and unfortunately the governments, the magistracy and often the most well-known humanitarian organisations in the world have relegated the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the Convention on the Status of Refugees and other rules on which we base our level of civilisation and respect of minorities behind other priorities: security, immigration control, the defence of nations and families.
The EveryOne Group is committed to defending the dignity and lives of refugees, but also to reminding the European governments that laws concerning human rights exist, they are very clearly stated and they must not be deliberately misinterpreted. To deport the refugees towards unjust sentences is a crime against humanity and there are no alibis for governments who are stained with such crimes.
To sacrifice human rights for “security”, for the concept of “nation” is the same principle on which the National Socialist Party based its rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. The EveryOne Group was created from an ideal and grows every day. We work day and night in contact with the activists, with the people who believe in human rights and with the better side of the political world in order to contribute towards changing things.
Many people are asking us what will happen to Pegah now. Friends, I have been studying persecutions and genocides for the last 30 years, I have published books, made documentaries and organized exhibitions, I am the curator of museums about the Holocaust and Genocides.
Unfortunately it is easy to read the minds of Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith in this moment. They are angry because the problem of the arbitrary and unjust deportations has come to light. I hope I’m wrong, but the history of persecution generally repeats a pattern. I believe the UK Government is once again studying a way to refuse Pegah asylum, motivating the decision thus: “Pegah is unable to prove she is homosexual and therefore we believe her case has been inflated”.
I don’t believe they will deport her to Iran because they know she would be faced with torture and murder. According to the Convention (that they are well aware of) they will give her all the time she needs to find a third country willing to grant her asylum. And Italy will enter the game. With this formula, the UK Government is confident of savings its face, saving the political career of Jacqui Smith (which is otherwise at risk) and, after a period of caution for fear of an international scandal, continue the deportations of refugees towards their death.
This is the truth, and if those who read these lines, think it over and continue to accept this situation, they will become accomplices of indifference and the new genocide.
The members of the EveryOne group will not do that, they will continue to speak out for and write about the truth. And there’s only one truth: homosexuality cannot be proven, because it is a state of mind. To ask for video or photographic evidences would be the most serious violation of the intimacy and dignity of a human being. To ask for signed testimonies would mean exposing the witnesses in their native land to persecution and sentences. Moreover, it would be a violation of the privacy of the witnesses themselves, even in a democratic country, not only in a regime, to force them to ”come out”.
To ask for documents related to a sentence in the countries of origin goes against human rights conventions that state that the request for testimony must be related to local laws. If in Iran homosexuality is persecuted, those who declare their homosexuality in the country in which they request asylum have the right to be recognized as a refugee and to be granted asylum. Without any “ifs” or “buts”. The rest is just criminal and repressive politics.
To get back to Pegah, she is an extraordinary woman and is a symbol of the new fury against the weak and different. We must continue to watch over her, but we must also ask quite firmly for respect of the international laws that protect refugees in the future. We must also urge the media – TV and press – not to fill our heads with frivolity and false problems, but to help us when we bring cases of violation of human rights to their attention, because the British press has shown itself to be at the service of those in power, to be unable to understand and report the truth, at the cost of hiding serious cases like Pegah Emambakhsh’s.
If the individual citizens don’t represent the pride, the freedom and the civilization of the United Kingdom, the country will slip into a regime that the citizens themselves are creating.
We have the same problems here in Italy and we must commit ourselves in the same way. There is a campaign underway right now, one of discrimination and oppression against the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies). Like during the Nazi period, the authorities are pursuing pedlars and beggars and the press is supporting this persecution. And as if this weren’t enough, we too treat the problem of asylum for refugees in a superficial and unjust manner. More flowers are needed! A shower of flowers and common sense! We must stick by Pegah, my friends, and keep our eyes open wide, so that the horizon of human rights won’t become just a distant line.