Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

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Naser rejected asylum by Finnish Government

By Ms. Ahmad and Sengupta, IRQR volunteers

Naser fled Iran because he feared for his life. As an Iranian queer, Naser was left no choice but to leave his family and whole life behind. In Iran, he was obligated to marry, but when he did, his ex-wife found out about his past relationship with another man. After finding out his sexual orientation, Naser was reported to the authorities and was tried for his sexual orientation. During the trial, there were a number of witnesses used against him, one of which was his former boy-friend. With the statements made by the witnesses, he was sure to be found guilty for his actions, which may have led him to death.

He fled Iran to Dubai, where he found a new life. He knew of the dangers that existed there however, he hoped to live as well as he could. After 8 years of establishing himself, he was reported to authorities in Dubai. Once again, he escaped for fear of his life. He traveled to Germany, where he held a visa, but continued on to Finland to seek refuge. He applied as a refugee to seek asylum in Finland however, he was denied on the basis that his claim was not sufficient enough. The Finnish government like many other European governments recommended Naser to return to Iran and keep his identity a secret.

In his plea with Finnish court officials, Naser states, “I cannot return to Iran because of the laws that exist against homosexuality. The strongest proof I have for my case is ME! I am homosexual and being homosexual is against the law in Iran and I will be persecuted by the government”.

Naser currently lives in fear of returning to Iran. He keeps his immediate family notified of his situation but cannot return because the government knows of his departure.

In the phone interview with Naser, he spoke of hope for a better future in Finland. He hopes to live with all the rights he deserves as a human being and hopes that the Finnish government will honour that. To the world today, Naser would like to say that “Iranian queer exist! They are real and I am proof of the struggles they face. Please do not turn your gaze away! Please do not deny us! We need the world’s support to change the circumstances we are in and will continue to struggle until freedom is in our grasp.”

On one hand, in Iran, Naser must hide his identity to live a safe life; and on the other hand, the European government requires him to prove his identity to live a safe life. Naser is in limbo and desperately needs help because of his risky situation. Naser is just one of many Iranian queer refugees who is in this situation. Like Ashgar, who is facing deportation in Norway and other Iranian queer asylum seekers in Europe, Naser must prove his sexual identity in Finland in order to grant asylum. Please show your support by contacting your members of parliament, government and politicians to revise these regulations.

Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees – IRQR
www.irqr.net
info@irqr.net

Finnish Immigration Service

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F.Y.I., Radio Zamaneh is the Persian-language service of Radio Netherlands. It has been particularly good about covering persecution of Iranian queers, and its website reprinted my December report (http://tinyurl.com/ycmpk7b) about the 12 youths, 8 of them teenagers, now facing execution for “sodomy” in Iran. The so-called “Cyber-Army” is under the control of the Iranian Ministry of Interior.

SEE BELOW

Doug Ireland

Dutch-based Persian language website hacked
January 31st, 2010 – 12:04 UTC
by Andy Sennitt

http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/iran-hacks-website-of-dutch-based-persian-language-radio-station

Iran has hacked the website of the Persian language, Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh, Fars News Agency reported on 31 January. Zamaneh’s website has been hacked by Iran’s Cyber Army which according to Fars became active following the post-election incidents in Iran. The Cyber Army has posted this message on Zamaneh’s website: “Iran’s Cyber Army warns all treasonous mercenaries that it will not leave them at peace even at the bosom of their masters.”

Fars report maintains that Radio Zamaneh is financially supported by the Netherlands’ government. The report also indicates: “It has been a primary priority for this radio to deal with artistic, literary, social, cultural and even religious topics along with intellectual slogans, however with political implications. In fact, “soft overthrow” should be mentioned as the most important tactic of this radio.”

According to the Reformist website Rahesabaz (on 31 January), Zamaneh website has not been accessible since Friday night, 29 January. However, the radio programmes of Zamaneh are available through satellite.

(Source: Fars News Agency website, Tehran, in Persian 0925 gmt 31 Jan 10 via BBC Monitoring)

Related stories:

No executions in Iran: A new campaign

By Doug Ireland

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 info@noexecution.com 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 info@noexecutions.com.

Full Article

Norway threatens to deport Asghar Hedayati to Iran. Please stop his deportation
Thursday, January 28, 2010, by EveryOne Group

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

cc

The European Parliament
The European Commission

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Your Majesty,
Honorable Sirs,

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.

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro,
Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson
EveryOne Group

See Also:

Source Image : http://www.globalgayz.com/country/Norway/NOR

Please support this URGENT call for support for Asghar Hedayati, a 40 years-old Iranian gay man from Norway — he may be sent back within a few days to a country where numerous gay men are currently on death row.

http://www.irqr.net/English/231.htm

This urgent CALL TO ACTION comes via Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR). They say that Hedayati has been seeking asylum in Norway since 2003. He is one of IRQR refugee cases who has not lucky so far, but he is still fighting for his rights.

“I was waiting for good news, everyday for the last seven years,” he says. “I was optimistic that I can start a normal life here in Norway. Unfortunately, it did not happen for me, I lost my hope, energy, happiness, and future when I got negative answers from Norwegian authority.

“There is no light for my future now but I never ever give up,” Asghar says in a letter to Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees – IRQR.

Asghar was in love with his boyfriend, Mr. J [for security reason we can not publish his name] and they were so happy but their happiness until Asghar’s family forced him to get married.

It was really difficult time for Asghar and “J” as they could not ‘come out’ for their families and Asghar did not have any reason to convince his family that he did not want to get married. Finally, he was forced to get married.

“I did not love her, I did not like her, and she was not the right person at all,” he says. “We lived together but we were together just at kitchen table. I could not stop thinking about [Mr. J] for a moment.”

After all the difficulties, he left Iran for Denmark and sought refugee status on basis of his sexual orientation. Unfortunately, his asylum application was refused by the Danish government and he was scared to death because he did not want to be deported back to Iran.

So he fled Denmark, going to Norway where he applied for asylum. At that time, he did not imagine that one day he will be in the same situation again. He has now received a letter from the Norwegian government that he has to leave by January 25, 2010 and he does not know what will happen in next day.

He has been told by the Norwegian authorities he can go back to Iran and “nothing will happen for you if you do not come out”.

“How it can be possible? Can they recommend it to Norwegians as well to just shut up and do not ask your basic rights?” Asghar said.

His life is now in danger and the Norwegian government has to grant his asylum because there a lot of evidence that Iranian gays in Iran are threatened because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no doubt his life will be in danger.

Asghar Hedayati is in an unjust situation and needs your urgent action. Please show your support by writing to the Norwegian government to urge them to grant refugee status to Asghar Hedayati. 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 Asghar Hedayati. Please CC IRQR: info@irqr.net for tracking purposes. Thank you for your support.

Further information:

* UK Gay News: “Now I Have Lost Hope” – Gay Iranian Who Faces Deportation from Norway in Hours
* Twelve Men Face Execution for Sodomy in Iran: For first time, activist confirms queer organizing on university campuses (Doug Ireland, published in Gay City News)
* From Teheran to Riyadh, this is how we are discriminated against
* Human Rights Watch: Iran prepares to execute gay teens

Send your letters to:

Mr. Knut Storberget

Minister of Justice and the Police

E-mail: postmottak@jd.dep.no

Phone: Switchboard +47 22 24 90 90

Mailing address: Postboks 8005 Dep, 0030 Oslo, Norway

&

Immigration Appeals Board of Norway – Utlendingsnemnda

Email: postmottak@une.no

Telephone: +47 21 08 50 00

Mailing address: Utlendingsnemnda, Postboks 8165 dep. 0034 Oslo, Norway

In addition, if you or your organization is interested in hosting an event to support Asghar Hedayat or interview him, please contact us at info@irqr.net as soon as possible. Thank you for your support.

– – – – – – Sample Letter – – – – –

Date:

To: Minister of Justice and Police, Mr. Knut Storberget, postmottak@jd.dep.no

Immigration Appeals Board of Norway, postmottak@une.no

CC: IRQR, info@irqr.net

Subject: Norway threatens to deport Asghar Hedayati to Iran – Please stop him deportation

Dear Minister,

I am contacting you to request your assistance on a very urgent case involving Asghar Hedayati a gay Iranian, who is currently in Norway. I 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. 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 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.

Sincerely

X

– – – – – – – End of Sample Letter – – – – – –

Arsham Parsi
Executive Director
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees – IRQR
www.irqr.net
info@irqr.net
(001) 416-548-4171
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
IRQR is federally incorporated as a non-profit group according to Canadian law. Biographies of IRQR Board Members and more information can be found at our website.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
IRQR Mailing Address:
477 Sherbourne St. Suite 414
Toronto, On – M4X 1K5

……………..

Visit our website, LGBT asylum news (formally Save Medhi Kazemi)
http://www.medhikazemi.com
Twitter http://twitter.com/LGBTAsylumNews

Iran: Stop Executions for Sodomy Charges

Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Iranian Queers Organization (IRQO) and COC Netherlands in calling on Iranian authorities to stop the numerous executions of minors and adults accused of sodomy. Also join us in calling on Western countries with significant diplomatic and economic ties to Iran, including Germany, France, Canada, as well as the European Union, to pursue diplomatic efforts to cease these executions.

Use our electronic system below to send a letter in English to the foreign officials and another letter in Persian to Iranian officials.

Take Action Now

The Issue

The courts in Iran have sentenced a number of men to death after they were accused and convicted of sodomy. Under Iranian law, sodomy includes sexual intercourse between members of the same sex, and is illegal. The punishment for same-sex intercourse between two men (Lavaat) is death and between two women (Mosaheghe) is 100 lashes for the first three offenses and the death penalty for the fourth.

Most, if not all of these arbitrary executions orders follow rushed trials with little adherence to procedure. Judges overseeing sodomy cases often ignore the strict guidelines of the Iranian Penal Code, and instead use questionable investigative methods and inadmissible evidence to decide the case. Frequently, the convictions are based on forced confessions, made under extreme psychological pressure and torture. Additionally, at least three lawyers who have defended people accused of sodomy have expressed fear of harassment and intimidation by the government and vigilantes. The courts do not allow independent observers to examine cases. Such practices violate the defendants’ human rights to a fair trial, free from torture.

In most cases, the Court convicts the defendants of sodomy charges solely on the basis of “the knowledge of the judge”. According to Iranian law, when there is not enough evidence to convict a defendant of a sexual crime, the judge may use his knowledge, in a deductive process based on the evidence that already exists, to determine whether the crime took place or not. Unfortunately, the excessive use of this principle means that rather than paying attention to evidence, the judge often sentences defendants to death based on his speculations. A number of prominent legal and religious scholars believe that such a broad application of the “the knowledge of the judge” to issue death penalty for sexual crimes is in violation of the letter and the spirit of Sharia law.

Regardless of the procedural errors of the trials, Iran’s practice of punishing sexual crimes such as sodomy with the death penalty is cruel, disproportionate to the nature of the crime, and inherently arbitrary under international law. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has stated that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party, applying the death penalty for ‘homosexual acts’ violates Article 6, and that criminalization of private sexual relations between consenting adults is contrary to Articles 17 and 26. Additionally, the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions has expressed concern numerous times about the use of the death penalty for consensual sodomy and has stated that criminalizing sodomy “increases the social stigmatization of members of sexual minorities, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to violence and human rights abuses, including violations of the right to life.”

Alarmingly, some of the defendants sentenced to death were tried for sexual acts they were accused of committing as minors. Article 111 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states that, “Sodomy is only punishable by death if both parties are adults and of sound mind” and Article 6(5) of the ICCPR states that “[A] sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” Thus, neither Iranian law nor international law permits the execution of these young men.
Background

The following sodomy cases have been brought in the Iranian judicial system within the past three years. We are still investigating other possible cases in which men have been charged with sodomy, convicted, and sentenced to death.

1. Ghaseem Bashkool, son of AzizAllah and born in 1984, was arrested along with another young man on May 31, 2007 on charges of sodomy. Both men were convicted despite an absence of credible evidence, and sentenced to death. At the time of the arrest, Qhassem was a third-year student of applied mathematics, but following his arrest, he was expelled from the university. The negative publicity around his case also took a toll on his family, causing them great social and economic hardship.

The First District of the Criminal Court of the Ardabil province found both men guilty of sodomy and sentenced them to death. In February 2009, an open letter surfaced on the Internet in which he pleaded for his life. In his letter, Ghassem insisted that the sodomy allegation was baseless and that in the absence of any credible evidence, the judge had referred to the “knowledge of the judge” as the basis of his ruling. At the time of the writing of the letter, Ghassem had spent 20 months in Ardebil prison.

Despite repeated efforts by a number of lawyers and human rights defenders inside Iran to investigate the situation, it currently remains unclear.

2. In February 2009, an informed source at the Fars Province Bar Association confirmed that the Fourth District of the Criminal Court in the Fars Province had convicted a man of sodomy and, in accordance with Article 110 of the Islamic Penal Code, had sentenced him to the death penalty, which would be administered by throwing him off a cliff.

Following the gruesome ruling of the Court, the accuser decided to withdraw his complaint and asked the Court to close the case. Instead, the Court ruled that the public aspect of the case (in the Court’s language, “the violation of the divine law”), forces the Court to prosecute the defendant regardless of the accuser’s demand. However, in the absence of the private complaint, the Court ordered a retrial and that the earlier ruling to be nullified.

We are still in the process of gathering information regarding the current status of the ruling and the defendant.

3. On Aug 9, 2008, the Iranian reformist newspaper Kargozaran, which was later shut down by the government, reported on the conviction of 4 young men in Tabriz (North-Western Iran) for sodomy. According to the report, Mahdi Pooran (17-years-old), Hamid Taghi, Ebrahim Hamidi, and Mehdi Rezaii were found guilty of sodomy by the Second District Criminal Court of Tabriz in July 2008, and were sentenced to death. The case was based on a complaint by a 19-year old man with a history of family feuds with the defendants, Hojat, who accused the defendants of physical and sexual assault. Although Hojat consistently told the court that he had no witness for his alleged rape, in the last session of the court he introduced 3 of his male relatives as witnesses to the rape. Given the absence of 4 male witnesses, the Court’s ruling was based on the “knowledge of the judge.”

The prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaii, who represented the four defendants, believes his clients were framed. In a post to his blog, he says that following a fist fight between his clients and a group of four young men who trespassed and were damaging a piece of land owned by Ebrahim’s father, the police intervened and arrested his clients, accusing them of gang-rape. Since his clients declared their innocence, the police officials started beating and torturing them for 3 days, hoping that at least one of them would confess to the sexual act. After 3 days, the police referred the case to the court as a sodomy rape case.

After the initial hearing, the court ordered the release of the men on $10,000 bail, but it took the defendants 28 days to provide the bail and get out of jail. Fifty-five days later, during the trial, the Deputy District Attorney requested the death penalty for the defendants. The court sentenced all defendants to death penalty, which will be carried out after approval by the Iranian Supreme Court at an unspecified time.

4. In February 2008, reports surfaced of the arrest of two young men, Hamze Chavoshi (19 years old) and Loghman Hamzepour (18 years old), in the Kurdish city of Sardasht in Western Iran. Both men were accused of sodomy. Their current status is under investigation.

5. Sources have informed us that a Court in Shiraz found Mohsen Ghabraii guilty of sodomy and sentenced him to death. Despite his lawyer’s appeal, his death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court and it will be carried out soon. Mohsen, who at the time of the alleged crime was a minor, has pleaded not guilty and has insisted on his innocence ever since.

6. Nemat Safavi, now 19 years old, was arrested in June 2006 at age 16 for alleged sodomy. According to reports in 2008, the Criminal Court in Ardebil sentenced him to death. Nemat was first sent to a juvenile detention center and was later admitted to the young adult prison facility in Ardebil, waiting for his death sentence to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

According to an investigation performed by the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) in November 2009, the Supreme Court overturned Nemat’s death sentence on March 4, 2009 and sent the case to another criminal court in Ardebil for retrial. Efforts are currently underway to provide Nemat with a defense lawyer who can convince the court of his innocence and prevent another death sentence for him.

Send a message
Take Action Now

Contact Information

Please use the Persian text below, based on the English sample letter, and write to Iranian officials to ask them to use their authority to stop the pending executions on sodomy charges and to put an end to criminalizing same-sex intercourse. We also request that you use the English sample letter to write the Western governments with diplomatic and economic ties to Iran, urging them to pressure Iran to end the killing of its citizens for sodomy convictions.

Please send the letter below in Persian to:

Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei
info@leader.ir
istiftaa@leader.ir
Chief Justice of Iran, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani
Larijani@Dadgostary-tehran.ir
Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki
matbuat@mfa.gov.ir

Please send the English letter to the following European authorities:

The Presidency of the European Union, Swedish Prime Minister Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt
roberta.alenius@primeminister.ministry.se
registrator@primeminister.ministry.se
Foreign Minister of Sweden, Ms. Carl Bildt
registrator@foreign.ministry.se
carl.bildt@foreign.ministry.se
Foreign Minister of Germany, Dr Guido Westerwelle
guido.westerwelle@bundestag.de
guido.westerwelle@auswaertiges-amt.de
Foreign Minister of France, Dr Bernard Kouchner
bernard.kouchner@diplomatie.gouv.fr
Canadian Foreign Mistier, Honorable Lawrence Cannon
l.cannon@international.gc.ca

Please send a copy of your letters to:

IGLHRC
communications+action.alert@iglhrc.org

Sample English Letter to European Officials

Your Excellency:

I am writing to request an immediate intervention to save the lives of a number of Iranian men, including minors and people who were minors at the time the alleged crimes occurred, who are currently in detention after having been convicted of sodomy and sentenced to death. These men include Ghaseem Bashkool, Mahdi Pooran, Hamid Taghi, Ebrahim Hamidi, Mehdi Rezaii, Hamze Chavoshi, Loghman Hamzepour, Mohsen Ghabraii, and Nemat Safavi (see appendix for more information about their cases).

As you know, Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. Imposing the death penalty for sexual crimes is a cruel and unusual form of punishment, which violates international human rights law. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has stated that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party, that applying the death penalty for ‘homosexual acts’ violates Article 6, and that criminalization of private sexual relations between consenting adults is contrary to Articles 17 and 26. Additionally, the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions has expressed concern numerous times about the use of the death penalty for consensual sodomy and has stated that criminalizing sodomy “increases the social stigmatization of members of sexual minorities, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to violence and human rights abuses, including violations of the right to life.”

Over the past three decades, the Iranian authorities have persecuted many of their citizens for sodomy, a crime that the Iranian Penal Code states is punishable by death. Unfortunately, the sodomy law has been frequently used to punish minors and consenting adults who were privately involved in same-sex practices, and those who have never been involved in such practices.

Although the Iranian Penal Code is very strict about the level of evidence required to prove sodomy, including a requirement of the testimony of four, reliable, male witnesses who have seen the sexual act and are able and willing to testify before the court, the courts often rely on inadmissible or unreliable methods. These methods frequently include forced confession under severe physical and psychological pressure or torture, the speculation of the judge (known as the “knowledge of the judge”), forced medical exams, and reports by informers.

The defendants are denied fair and open trials; due to the taboo nature of sexual crimes, lawyers, human rights activists and reporters find it next to impossible to advocate on behalf of the defendants. Furthermore, the Iranian judicial system does not allow independent observers to examine the outcome of the courts and those who dare to advocate for the defendants are often harassed by the government and vigilantes.

The lack of transparency and due process for defendants, the imposition of the death penalty for minors, and the frequent violations of strict guidelines of the Iranian Penal Code for trying sexual crimes demonstrate the fundamentally unjust nature and implementation of the sodomy law in Iran. Regardless of the sexual orientation and gender identity of these individuals, the Iranian government should not murder its own citizens based on allegations of sexual behaviors that are nearly impossible to prove under Iranian legal standards.

I strongly urge you and your government to use your diplomatic influence on Iran to stop the pending executions of the minor and adult men already convicted of sodomy.

Respectfully,

Name:
Organization:
Country:

محضر مبارک حضرت آیت الله سید علی خامنه ای، مقام معظم رهبری جمهوری اسلامی ایران،

پس از عرض سلام و تقدیم احترامات فائقه، محترما به استحضار حضرتعالی میرساند که غرض از نگارش این نامه، تقاضای تجدیدنظر در پرونده تعدادی از شهروندان نوجوان و جوان ایرانی است که طی سنوات گذشته در دادگاه متهم به عمل لواط شده و از سوی مقامات قوه محترمه قضاییه به اعدام محکوم گردیده اند.

نکته قابل توجه در اکثر پرونده های ذیل این است که، قضات محترم دادگاه بر خلاف نص مواد 114 تا 126 قانون مجازات اسلامی، و تنها با استناد به اعترافات اولیه متهمان که در زمان بازپرسی و تحت آزار و اذیت صورت میگیرد و یا به استناد ادعای شاکی (و بدون داشتن 4 شاهد عادل) ، حکم اعدام متهمان را صادر مینمایند. این در حالی است که مطابق ماده 116 قانون مجازات اسلامی، در مورد لواط ” اقرار در صورتي نافذ است كه اقرار كننده بالغ ، عاقل ، مختار و داراي قصد باشد .” مضافا اینکه ماده 118 قانون مجازات اسلامی مقرر میدارد که ” با شهادت كمتر از ‌چهار مرد عادل لواط ثابت نميشود و شهود به قذف محكوم ميشوند‌”.

بعلاوه مکررا مشاهده گردیده است که در غیاب ادله کافی، دادگاه “علم قاضی” را مبنای صدور حکم اعدام برای محکومین به لواط قرار میدهد. هرچند در پرونده های مرتبط با لواط، علم قاضی میتواند بعنوان ادله مورد استناد قرار گیرد، ماده 120 قانون مجازات اسلامی مقرر میدارد که علم قاضی باید “از طرق متعارف حاصل شود”. با توجه به فقدان مدارک و شواهد در این پرونده ها، معلوم نیست قضات محترم از کدام طریق متعارفی علم خود را بدست آورده اند.

از جمله این پرونده های اعدام، میتوان به موارد زیر اشاره نمود:

1. آقای قاسم بشکول فرزند عزیزالله متولد 1363 که در تاریخ 10/3/1386 با قرار بازداشت از سوی شعبه‌ی یک کیفری استان اردبیل به اتهام لواط به عنف روانه‌ی زندان اردبیل شد. قاضی محترم پرونده، آقای بشکول و دوست وی را علی رغم عدم وجود ادله متقن به اتهام “لواط به عنف” به اعدام محکوم نمود و متهمان پرونده اکنون در زندان بسربرده و در صورت عدم الغای حکم اعدامشان، به طناب دار آویخته خواهند شد.

2. مطابق مندرجات نشریه اینترنتی “روز آنلاین” در اول اسفند سال 1387 ، شعبه چهارم دادگاه کيفري استان فارس، فردی را بدلیل ارتکاب عمل لواط به اعدام از طریق پرتاب از کوه محکوم نمود. متعاقب باخبر شدن شاکي پرونده از چنين حکمي، وی رسما اعلام نمود که موضوع شکايتش به کلي منتفي بوده و ‏ ضمن رضايت دادن، درخواست مختومه کردن پرونده را مي نماید. اما دادگاه محترم با این ادله که با توجه به جنبه حق الهي در پرونده لواط، ‏رضايت شاکي برای مختومه نمودن پرونده کافي نيست، حکم به اعاده دادرسي این پرونده مینماید.‏ پرونده مذکور علیرغم وجود شاکی خصوصی همچنان مفتوح بوده و متهم همچنان در انتظار حکم دادگاه میباشد.

3. قضات محترم شعبه دوم دادگاه كيفري استان آذربايجان شرقي چهار نفر به نامهاي حميد طاقی، ابراهيم حمیدی، مهدي پوران (که مطابق اتهامات وارده در زمان ارتکاب عمل 17 سال بیشتر نداشته) و محمد رضایی را به اتهام لواط به استناد علم قاضي در خرداد ماه سال هشتاد و هفت به اعدام محكوم نمودند . متهمین فوق الذکر در حال حاضر در زندان تبریز بوده ودر انتظار تقاضای تجدید نظر در حکم صادره از سوی دیوان عالی کشور به سر میبرند.

مطابق اظهارات وکیل متهمین، این چهار نفر ساعاتی پس از درگیری با چهار جوان که مشغول تخريب زمين كشاورزي متعلق به پدر ابراهيم بودند، از سوی نیروهای انتظامی دستگیر شدند. دستگیری متهمان پس از آن صورت گرفت که جوان 19 ساله‌ای به نام حجت ، که یکی از افراد مشغول به تخریب زمین کشاورزی و دارای سابقه دشمنی خانوادگی با متهمین بود، با مراجعه به پلیس مدعی شد كه این چهار نفر با او درگیرشده و سپس به او تعرض جنسی كرده‌اند. آقایان طاقی، حمیدی، پوران و رضایی میگویند ماموران پلیس سه روز آنها را در کلانتری محل مورد شکنجه و ضرب و شتم قرار دادند تا آنها به “عمل لواط” اعتراف کنند. نیروهای انتظامی حتی پیشنهاد دادند که ” اگر يك نفر از شما اين كار را گردن بگيرد يك نفر شما به زندان خواهد رفت و بقيه شما آزاد می شوید “. علیرغم تداوم ضرب و شتم و فشار پلیس، هیچ یک از دستگیر شدگان به انجام عمل لواط اعتراف ننمودند.

دادگاه ابتدایی با صدور قرار 10 ميليون توماني به عنوان وثيقه برای آزادی موقت متهمین موافقت مینماید، اما چهار متهم نامبرده بدلیل نداشتن مبلغ لازم 28 روز را در زندان سپری نمودند. در تاريخ 20/3/87 دادگاه رسیدگی به این پرونده تشکیل جلسه داد و متهمان پرونده بر بیگناهی خود تاکید کردند. اما معاون دادستان بر اساس اتهام عمل لواط، برای متهمین تقاضای اعدام کرد.

شعبه دوم دادگاه كيفري استان آذربايجان شرقي پس از گذشت سه ماه از تشكيل پرونده با استناد به علم قاضي در تاریخ 30/4/1387حكم به اعدام اين چهار نفر داده است. به گفته وکیل پرونده، شاکی در تمام مراحل دادرسی اعلام کرده بود که شاهدی برای اثبات ادعای خود ندارد ، ولی وی در آخرین جلسه دادگاه سه نفر از اقوام خود را به عنوان شاهد معرفی و آنها نیز شهادت کذب به زیان متهمان پرونده می دهند.

4. در بهمن ماه سال 1377 دوجوان به نامهاي “حمزه چاوي” 19 ساله و “لقمان حمزه پور” 18 ساله در شهرستان سردشت به دليل ارتکاب لواط بازداشت شدند و متاسفانه تا کنون از وضعیت آنها اطلاعی در دست نیست.

5. مطابق اطلاع ما، محسن قبرایی، نوجوان شیرازی از سوی دادگاه به اتهام انجام عمل لواط به اعدام محکوم گردید و مدتی پیش نیز حکم اعدام وی از سوی دیوان عالی کشور تنفیذ گردید. وی همواره بر بیگناهی خود اصرار داشته و حتی مطابق پرونده دادگاه، اتهام لواط وی به زمانی برمیگردد که وی هنوز به سن بلوغ نرسیده بود. با اینهمه چنانچه حکم دادگاه نقض نشود، محسن بزودی اعدام خواهد شد.

6. آقای نعمت صفوي ، فرزند اکبر و متولد سال 1368 هجری خورشیدی، در سال 1385 در سن 16 سالگي به دليل ارتکاب عمل لواط بازداشت و پس از محاکمه در دادگاه اطفال از سوي دادگستري اردبيل به اعدام محکوم گرديد . پس از بیش از32 ماه حبس، سرانجام در تاریخ 14 اسفند سال 1387 دیوان عالی کشور حکم اعدام وی را رد نمود و پرونده وی اکنون برای اعاده دادرسی به شعبه هم ارز اعاده شده است. پرونده آقای صفوی، هنوز مفتوح بوده و احتمال محکومیت اعدام وی بدلیل اتهام لواط در زمانی که وی هنوز به سن بلوغ نرسیده بود، وجود دارد.

رهبر معظم نظام جمهوری اسلامی،

حضرتعالی بعنوان بالاترین مقام سیاسی و مذهبی در ایران، میتوانید از اختیارات قانونی و حقوقی خود استفاده کرده و تقاضای تعلیق یا تنسیخ احکام دادگاه را نموده، یا خواستار اعاده دادرسی در این موارد گردید. ما از آن مقام معظم صمیمانه تقاضا داریم که از قدرت قانونی خود بهره جسته و جان این شهروندان بیگناه را از خطر مرگ نجات دهد.

بعقیده ما مجازات اعدام، خصوصا در موارد مربوط به تجاوز به عنف، مجازاتی ناعادلانه و نامتناسب با ماهیت جنحه است. مطابق نظر کمیسیون حقوق بشر سازمان ملل متحد، کشتن افراد بدلیل انجام عمل همجنسگرایانه { که در قوانین جزایی ایران از آن بعنوان لواط نام برده میشود} نقض ماده 6 ميثاق بين المللي حقوق مدني و سياسي میباشد. بعلاوه کمیسیون حقوق بشر سازمان ملل مقرر میدارد که قتل کسانی که عاقل و بالغ بوده و با اختیار تام خود در خلوت با یکدیگر رابطه همجنسگرایانه برقرار میکنند، ناقض ماده 17 و 26 کنوانسیون فوق میباشد. ماده 9 قانون مدني جمهوری اسلامی ایران مقرر میدارد که « مقررات عهودي كه بر طبق قانون اساسي بين دولت ايران و ساير دول منعقد شده باشد در حكم قانون است». از آنجا که ميثاق ياد شده در سال 1354 به تصويب مجلس شورای ملی رسيده و تاكنون نيز قانوني مخالف با اين بند ميثاق وضع نشده، حکم اعدام برای عمل لواط، هم ناقض ميثاق بين المللي حقوق مدني و سياسي و هم ناقض قانون مدنی جمهوری اسلامی ایران است .

در برخی از موارد فوق، متهمان پرونده ، بدلیل ارتکاب عملی که بعنوان یک طفل و قبل از رسیدن به سن بلوغ صورت گرفته است به اعدام محکوم گردیده اند. این امر خلاف مقررات حقوقی وبین المللی است. ماده 49 قانون مجازات اسلامی مقرر میدارد که ” اطفال درصورت ارتكاب جرم مبري از مسووليت كيفري هستند”. مطابق بند 5 ماده 6 ميثاق بين المللي حقوق مدني و سياسي: «حكم مجازات مرگ نبايد براي جرم‌هايي كه افراد زير 18 سال مرتكب شده اند صادر شود». ماده 9 قانون مدني جمهوری اسلامی ایران مقرر میدارد که « مقررات عهودي كه بر طبق قانون اساسي بين دولت ايران و ساير دول منعقد شده باشد در حكم قانون است». از آنجا که ميثاق ياد شده در سال 1354 به تصويب مجلس شورای ملی رسيده و تاكنون نيز قانوني مخالف با اين بند ميثاق وضع نشده، بنابر اين حکم اعدام اطفال زیر 18 سال، هم ناقض ميثاق بين المللي حقوق مدني و سياسي و هم ناقض قانون مدنی جمهوری اسلامی ایران است .

جدای از قوانین و تعهدات بین المللی که جمهوری اسلامی ایران بدانها پایبند است ، بسیاری از علمای معظم شیعه، از جمله آیات اعظام صانعی و محقق داماد، حکم مجازات اعدام برای جرایم جنسی را در زمان غیبت امام معصوم لازم الاجرا نمی دانند.

پیشاپیش از مساعدت معظم له برای حل عاجل این پرونده ها سپاسگذارم و عاجزانه خواهشمندم ترتیبی اتخاذ فرمایید تا در آینده نزدیک شاهد لغو مجازات اعدام برای همه جرایم جنسی، خصوصا عمل لواط، باشیم.

با تقدیم احترامات فائقه

رونوشت:

– حضرت آیت الله آملی لاریجانی ریاست محترم قوه قضائیه جمهوری اسلامی ایران

– جناب آقاي منوچهر متكي وزير محترم امور خارجه جمهوري اسلامي ايران

raped-in-iranPhoto: Iran Arrested, Beaten and Raped: an Iran Protester’s Tale

New Prison-Rape Allegations In Iran Bring Practice To Light

By Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
http://www.rferl.org/content/New_PrisonRape_Allegations_In_Iran_Bring_Practice_To_Light/1808311.html

August 26, 2009
By Golnaz Esfandiari

Allegations of prison authorities’ use of rape as a means of punishment or intimidation in the Islamic republic are nothing new.

But for the first time, a high-profile figure in the Islamic establishment has acknowledged the apparent rise in the practice, and is calling for an investigation.

Former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi was a losing reformist candidate for president in Iran’s contentious June 12 election, but in the aftermath has strengthened his position as a leading opposition figure by taking a number of stances that make the regime uncomfortable.

None has been more controversial than his revelation in a letter published earlier this month to former President and Assembly of Experts head Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani that a number of protesters, women and young boys alike, detained in the postelection unrest had been subjected to brutal rapes.

Calling for an investigation, Karrubi urged Rafsanjani to bring the issue up with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Graphic Testimony

Hard-liners were quick to attack Karrubi, calling for his prosecution for “libeling the system” unless he could prove the allegations. In response, Karrubi has upped the ante, publishing on his website a graphic account of the rape of a young male detainee.

The individual says in the account, published this week, that he was nearly beaten to death and raped. “Worse than all of that, they did something to me that even unbelievers and idol worshipers would denounce.”

Karrubi has also handed the names of four individuals who say they were raped in prison to a special parliamentary commission that is in charge of investigating the postelection unrest.

A member of the parliamentary commission, who did not want to be named, was quoted on August 26 by the “Parlemannews” website as saying that it’s clear that some detainees were raped with batons and bottles.

And Karrubi’s son told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on August 25 that his father will present other rape cases to parliament in the future.

Long History Of Abuse

Abdol Karim Lahidji, the deputy director of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, describes Karrubi’s move as very significant.

He says his organization has been condemning rape in Iran’s prisons in its annual reports to United Nations human rights bodies, “but now a well-known figure in the Islamic republic who has twice been parliament speaker and a presidential candidate, has not only spoken about it but he has identified several victims and called on the parliament to give them protection.”

Lahidji says that if the victims are given protection, then the investigation might lead to some results.

Lahidji, who has been monitoring human rights in Iran for three decades, says that over the years he’s received a number reports about political prisoners being raped by their interrogators.

“Unfortunately, in the 1980s we used to receive a lot of news about girls being raped in prison before being executed,” he says.

Lahidji says that he also personally dealt with rape cases following the student uprising of 1999; “one of the students whom I interviewed in Europe said many of the boys had been raped in prison.”

Unseen Wounds

Monireh Baradaran is a former political prisoner who has published a prison memoir about her nine years in prison from 1981 to 1991. She tells RFE/RL she met a girl in prison who had become mentally ill after being raped by her interrogator.

“She was then a beautiful, 16-year-old girl. She wouldn’t talk, she was silent all the time , but I had heard from people close to her including her sister, who was also in jail, that she had been raped,” Baradaran says.

“She was in total silence; she would distance herself from others.”

Baradaran says rape is used as a torture method intended to crush detainees’ spirit.

Azar Ale Kanaan, a former political prisoner, says the memories of her rape some 20 years ago in a prison in Sanandaj are still unbearable. Her interrogator, who had promised to break her down, raped her while her hands were tied and she was blindfolded.

Video interview with Azar Ale Kanaan by well-known Iranian filmmaker Reza Allamezadeh (English subtitles):

“I knew he was my enemy and my enemy has done this to me, the enemy has touched me, raped me. Even when he was lashing me, it was a rape in a sense,” Ale Kanaan says.

“But I could deal with the lashes and cable much easier than this because the physical pain of lashes goes away after a while , but the pain of rape, the pain of those dirty hands touching me…. For me, remembering it is like…like a mother in front of whom her only dearest child is killed.”

Breaking The Silence

Former political prisoner Nasrin Parvaz says many of those who endured rape in Iranian prisons, women and men alike, choose to remain silent.

She says she personally knows three men now living in Britain who were raped in Iranian prisons. She adds that for some reason they won’t speak about it, “and I don’t judge them. It has to do with the society’s culture.”

Parvaz says one of the three men was raped 12 years ago while the case of the other two is two years old. She adds that they have not only been damaged psychologically, but one of them is still being treated for “physical damage.”

Iran’s Writers Association has said in a statement that torturers who use rape play on their victims’ sense of shame. The group has praised rape victims who have had the courage to come forward about their experience, and has characterized the disclosure of rape as commitment to freedom of expression.

Former political prisoner and artist Soudabeh Ardavan says that during the ’80s “social and political conditions” were not appropriate for rape victims to talk about their experience.

“We have many of these cases that are still hidden,” she says. “Some of my friends are reaching, after 30 years, a stage where they slowly start to talk about what happened to them [ in detention].”

But Ardavan sees the recent revelations as a positive sign, in the sense that the problem is out in the open.

Observers say the Islamic republic’s legitimacy has already been severely damaged as the result of the postelection crisis. The supreme leader has been publicly challenged and a rift in the country’s leadership has widened. There have been reports of peaceful protesters being shot dead, and prisoners brutally tortured.

And with the recent allegations of rape, the Islamic establishment — whose officials claim to rule the country based on moral and religious values — faces another severe test.

As Karrubi wrote in his letter to Rafsanjani on August 9, if any of the allegations of rape proved to be true it would be a tragedy for the establishment.

Radio Farda broadcaster Elahe Ravanshad contributed to this report

Full Article

By Omar Hassan, http://www.pinknews.co.uk

unspeakablelove1Execution, public humiliation and imprisonment have long plagued the lives of the LGBT community in the Middle Eastern world. It is a well-known fact that “LGBT individuals are at a constant struggle,” notes the Imaan Secretariat (an organisation dedicated to the wellbeing of gay Muslims, based in Britain). “[They] must [fight] for the right to be LGBT… [and] for the freedom to love somebody of the same sex,” he argues further.

Brian Whitaker, of the Guardian, who authored the book ‘Unspeakable Love’, notes that the subject of homosexuality is as unmentionable in the Middle East as it was in the UK 60 years ago.

This tension can be attributed largely to Islamic conservatism. In 2006, it was reported that radical Islamic militias were attacking homosexuals in Iraq; and it was only a year later that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that there were “no homosexuals in Iran”.

“Ironically, Ahmadinedjad’s remarks and the laughter from his audience probably did a lot to bring [the issue] out in the open’, Whitaker told us. Indeed, soon after, filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian released a documentary entitled ‘Be Like Others’. The film revealed that the government had been paying for homosexual men to have sex-change operations. Arguably, this was the Iranian administration’s humane ultimatum to the death sentence, which is bestowed on any two men who wish to engage in a homosexual relationship.

At the time of the film’s release, the filmmaker stated that it was easy to find her subjects, noting that gender reassignment surgery is a “public phenomenon [even] encouraged by the Islamic clerics”.

These instances do not begin to explain the extent of the pressures that one faces for being gay in this part of the world.

Even at a basic level, one can argue that Arabic language in itself does not accommodate a neutral definition of the term ‘homosexual’. The most inoffensive branding for an LGBT man for instance is ‘Luti’ or ‘Shaz’, which roughly translate to mean ‘pervert’ or ‘deviant’. How then, is anyone who identifies as part of this minority group going to be able to stand up to such political, social and linguistic barriers?

Human rights activists the world over had hoped that a UN joint statement released last December would help alleviate the situation. Signed by over 60 countries, the assertion called for the decriminalization of homosexuality and the protection of various other LGBT human rights, including the protection against discrimination.

However, according to human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, it is important to note that this is not a resolution.

“It has no force on international law. [Still], it is an important symbolic benchmark, being the first time that the UN General Assembly has ever heard such a statement,” he said.

As expected, the statement was opposed by Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. “They will ignore it…[and it will] have little moderating effect on their abuse of LGBT citizens”, argues Tatchell.

Undeniably, Middle Eastern politicians and religious figures are prone to use arguments relating to cultural rights and relativism, claiming that the West (and its allies) have no authority to infringe on any nation’s legal system, regardless of whether the matter concerns the seemingly universal human rights to life, freedom and personal liberty.

Indeed, one can make an example out of the public reaction to the Queen Boat raid, which took place in Cairo nearly eight years ago. At the time, the relatively liberal Egyptian government enforced a crackdown on an unofficial floating gay nightclub, which was moored on the Nile. The raids subsequently lead to 52 arrests, with many of the victims claiming to be arbitrarily detained whilst simply passing by the docks. The men involved were publicly humiliated (whilst in court, they were placed in cages) with their faces splashed across the covers of newspapers.

Although there is no law in Egypt that explicitly bans homosexual practice, the accused men were charged on the grounds of ‘debauchery’. In the end, over twenty of those arrested faced sentences which ranged between three to five years in prison. Many of those who were released returned home to find that they had lost their jobs and were rejected by their families.

Hossam Bahgat, an Egyptian human rights activist and journalist who was working at the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) at the time, protested against these injustices. He argued that the administration was using the raid as a means to sidetrack public focus from the impending recession, its Western alliances (which are unpopular with the public) and to quell the tensions growing in the Islamic Brotherhood (who are of increasing importance in the Egyptian political arena).

Soon after speaking out, Bahgat was removed from his position at the EOHR. The EOHR’s secretary-general, Hafez Abu Saada told the press at the time: “Personally, I don’t like the subject of homosexuality, and I don’t want to defend them.” He also went on to explain that sexual preference was not a human right.

At the same time, the Egyptian government went so far as to arrest individuals who used online chat rooms and social networking websites as a means for sourcing homosexual relationships. Futhermore, reports were circulating that government officials were masquerading as potential suitors in order to set gay men up for arrest. Scott Long of Human Rights Watch has spoken previously about this matter, asserting that when governments crack down on homosexual gathering places, whether real or online, they do it for political rather than purely moral reasons. “They are saying to their people that they are defending what is authentic, what is Islamic,” he said.

In turn, the politicians, journalists and even the human rights activists of the Middle Eastern world are arguing back at egalitarian impositions that beg for the equal rights of the LGBT community.

Considering the sensitivity of the issue and the rise of anti-Islamic attitude in the West, it is very easy for Islamic states to claim that announcements (such as the UN statement) are imperial infringements by the secular West on the Islamic world. Accordingly, it is evident that the UN’s efforts will reap only meagre benefits for the distressed LGBT community in the Middle East.

How then do we begin to envisage change in the region for this vulnerable community? On an individual basis, many Middle Easterners seeking an escape believe that Western states should implement more liberal asylum policies towards LGBT groups.

However, if we are going to be realistic about safeguarding the rights of these communities than we need a new strategy. The West must use political leverage to bring LGBT rights up on the international agenda as, undeniably, many of the biggest gay rights’ abuses committed in the Middle East are by Western allies.

Undoubtedly, this will require significant effort, especially considering that many of the Arabs and Muslims who live in the diaspora also occupy negative attitudes towards homosexuals. Still, the beliefs of an increasingly blindsided religious majority should not take precedence over anyone’s basic humanity.

According to Tatchell, what is most likely to change is the self-organisation of LGBT people in Muslim states, as has happened in Lebanon, through the work of the LGBT group, Helem.

“Some…changes might also come through HIV prevention work, where governments will have to reluctantly recognise the LGBT communities in order to combat the HIV pandemic,” he added.
Whitaker argues further that “it is becoming more difficult to keep a lid on discussion of homosexuality in the Middle East”.

“Western debates about gay priests, films like Brokeback Mountain, and even George Michael’s arrest [coupled with the use of the internet] are all heightening gay awareness” in the region, he says.

However until these governments recognise that gay rights are of importance, it should be the obligation of the international community to take a holistic approach to ensuring the protection of this vulnerable LGBT population. Only then, will the new UN statement be able to ensure that our universal human rights are protected.

Omar is a writer and freelance journalist. He has also been involved with a range of TV production companies, working predominantly in the area of factual programming. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he has lived in the U.S.A and Saudi Arabia and currently resides in the United Kingdom.

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See Also LGBT Asylum News

mehdin1We 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

Email: poststelle@bmi.bund.de

BMJ – Federal Minister of Justice Ms. Brigitte Zypries:

Address: Mohrenstraße 3710117 Berlin

Phone: +49 1888 580-0

Fax: +49 1888 580-9525

Email: poststelle@bmj.bund.de

European Justice & Human Rights Spokeswoman Ms. Sarah Ludford:

European Parliament, Brussel

Phone: +3222847104

Fax: + 3222849104

Email: sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu

Please CC IRQR info@irqr.net 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 info@irqr.net as soon as possible. Thank you for your support.

Related Article: http://www.irqr.net/English/195.htm

Sincerely,
IRanian Queer Railroad – IRQR
www.irqr.net
info@irqr.net
(001) 416-548-4171
414-477 Sherbourne St.
Toronto, On – M4X 1K5

– – – – – – Sample Letter – – – – –

Date:

To: Minister of Interior, Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble, poststelle@bmi.bund.de

Minister of Justice, Ms. Brigitte Zypries, poststelle@bmj.bund.de

European Justice & Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ms. Sarah Ludford, sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu

CC: IRQR, info@irqr.net

Subject: Germany threatens to deport Mehdi N. to Iran – Urgent need for action

Dear Ministers,

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.

Sincerely

X

Support the Iranian People, Oppose Tehran’s Clerical Fascism by Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell says solidarity with the Iranian freedom struggle is non-negotiable, no matter how much the US threatens a military strike

Principled, consistent left-wingers do not base their politics on the unprincipled, inconsistent geo-political manoeuvres of western powers. We stand with the oppressed against their oppressors, regardless of what the west (or anyone else) demands or threatens.

US sabre-rattling against Iran is worrying. A military attack must be resisted. However, opposition to Washington’s war-mongering and neo-imperial designs is no reason for socialists, greens and other progressives to go soft on Tehran.

Iran is an Islamo-fascist state – a clerical form of fascism based on a confluence of Islamic fundamentalism and police state methods. It differs, of course, from traditional European-style fascism, being rooted in religious dogma and autocracy. This makes it no less barbaric. Iran under the ayatollahs has a history of repression that is even bloodier than Franco’s clerical fascist regime in Spain. Sadly, it merits far less outrage by the left.

Tehran’s tyrannical religious state embodies many (though not all) the characteristics of classical fascism: a substantially corporatist political and economic system maintained by a highly centralised repressive state apparatus. This repression includes bans on non-Islamist political parties and free trade unions, and a regime of unfair trials, detention without charge, torture, executions, media censorship, gender apartheid, violent suppression of peaceful protests and strikes, and the persecution of left-wingers, students, feminists, journalists, gay people and religious and ethnic minorities. Even lawyers and human rights defenders – are imprisoned and tortured.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also pursuing a racist, neo-colonial policy against Iran’s minority nationalities, such as the Arabs (who are abused even more harshly than the Israelis abuse the Palestinians), Kurds and Baluchs.

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