Archive for the ‘Mehdi Kazemi’ Category

cyprusflagCyprus grants resident status to gay Iranian asylum seeker

By Tony Grew, Pink News • November 26, 2008

MEPs have welcomed the decision of Cyprus interior minister to grant resident status to an gay Iranian asylum seeker.

Labour’s Michael Cashman, Lib Dem Baroness Ludford, Tory John Bowis and Greens Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas were among 13 MEPs who put their name to a parliamentary question to the European Commission on the issue.

They wanted to know if the refusal of asylum to Abbas Bagherian by Cyprus on the grounds of sexual orientation was a breach of EU directives.

After Cypriot MEP Panayiotis Demetriou raised the case in discussions with the interior minister, Mr Bagherian was granted residency.

“I strongly welcome the decision to allow Mr Bagherian to remain in Cyprus,” said Baroness Ludford, Liberal Democrat justice and human rights spokeswoman and an MEP for London.

“A rejection of his application and his return to Iran would have left him vulnerable to imprisonment, torture and in the worst case the death penalty, simply for being gay.

“I hope that we are starting to see a general move in EU countries to recognise the validity of asylum claims based on the risk of persecution due to sexual orientation.

“There should be a consistent EU policy, because such fears may be absolutely justified regarding a country like Iran.”

The treatment of lesbian and gay Iranians in the UK became a subject of controversy earlier this year when a campaign by The Independent newspaper, MPs, MEPs, gay rights groups and members of the House of Lords led Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to grant asylum to a young Iranian man.

Mehdi Kazemi, 20, left Iran in 2004 to travel to England on a student visa and continue his education.

Two years later while still in the UK he learned that Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend Parham, who had been forced to name Mr Kazemi as someone with whom he had had a relationship.

Mr Kazemi’s father then received a visit from the Tehran police, with an arrest warrant for his son.

In late April 2006, Medhi’s uncle told him Parham had been put to death.

Mr Kazemi’s request for asylum was turned down by the United Kingdom.

After fearing for his life he fled to Netherlands and sought asylum there. The Dutch authorities returned him to the UK.

He was finally granted asylum but there are other gay people facing deportation back to Iran.

Since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, human rights groups claim that between 3,000 and 4,000 people have been executed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.

See also:

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UK – Petition: “Urgently Review the Way LGBT Asylum Seekers Are Treated” on Downing St Website

Text of the petition :
In the light of the cases of Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi, Iranian LGBT asylum seekers, who sought asylum in the UK, we call upon the Prime Minister for an urgent review of the treatment of all LGBT asylum seekers. In particular we think that the following are needed for fair treatment –
1. Compulsory training for all asylum staff on sexual-orientation and trans-awareness.
2. Explicit instructions to all immigration and asylum staff, and asylum judges, that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.
3. Clearer and up-to-date guidance from the Home Office for asylum judges to reflect the accurate scale of LGBT persecution throughout the world using expert information from NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
4. Legal-aid funding for asylum claims needs to be substantially increased.

Submitted by Phelim Mac Cafferty, Amy Kennedy and Nigel Tart – Deadline to sign up by: 05 February 2009

SIGN THE PETITION

Petition on Downing St website calls for review of gay asylum policy – Pink News
By Phoebe Ferris-Rotman • August 6, 2008

LGBT Greens have launched a petition on the Downing St website to push urgent review of Home Office approaches to asylum for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

The political group wants compulsory training for all asylum staff.

Earlier this year, gay rights groups were taken aback by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s assertion that gay men and lesbians who are “discreet” are not in danger in Iran.

The Iranian regime’s record of brutality towards sexual minorities is well-documented and the Islamic nation regularly uses torture and the death penalty.

The issue has not only been taken up by various LGBT equality rights groups such as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration group, but has also attracted attention in the US.

In April, during the race Democratic nomination for President, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaign teams both condemned Gordon Brown and the UK government policy to deport LGBT people to countries where they face persecution, citing the controversial case of gay Iranian teenager Medhi Kazemi.

Phelim Mac Cafferty, media spokesperson for LGBT Greens stated: “After much campaigning on the issue since the cases of Iranian LGBT asylum seekers Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi came to light, we have got clearance from the web team on the Prime Minister’s website for our petition.

“We now challenge the government to start treating LGBT asylum seekers with the fairness that they deserve.

“These are people who’ve often fled persecution, rape and torture who flee to our country and our response is to lock them up like criminals. We say enough is enough of this inhumane policy- we need to stick our necks out now and stand up for LGBT asylum seekers.”

The petition also calls for explicit instructions to all immigration and asylum staff and judges that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.

SIGN THE PETITION

May 23th, 2008 by EveryOne Group
Mehdi Kazemi, the young Iranian homosexual, has been granted asylum in the United Kingdom.

EveryOne Group: “A memorable success we share with the Radical Party and Nessuno Tocchi Caino (Hands off Cain). Thanks to an extraordinary campaign the regulations for granting asylum in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe have been changed. We succeeded because we refuse to accept unjust laws that ignore the value of human life”.

Seyed Mehdi Kazemi, the 20-year-old Iranian homosexual, a member of EveryOne Group who risked deportation to Teheran on several occasions (where he would have suffered imprisonment, harsh corporal punishment and probably been hung) has obtained asylum in the United Kingdom. He received notification of the decision from the Home Office on Monday May 19th, 2008. The boy had attempted to escape deportation to Teheran from the United Kingdom by fleeing to Canada, but he was stopped on the German border and transferred temporarily to Holland, a nation usually in favour of granting asylum to Iranian homosexuals. But on February 26th a flight was arranged from Amsterdam to London and it seemed that once back in the UK Mehdi risked deportation to Teheran again. “They were days of great worry as we attempted an amazing nonviolent struggle”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau of EveryOne”, “days in which we fought side by side with the Radical Party and the association Nessuno Tocchi Caino, literally inventing a new way of battling for human rights, drawing into our battle the world’s media, hundreds of associations and thousands of activists. Our first step was to block the deportation, appealing to the sense of justice of the Dutch government which agreed to review Mehdi’s case. In the meantime we also upset the expulsion system of refugees in the United Kingdom – an unjust system which was taking place among indifference and the silence of the media. Then with our friends from the Radical Party we presented a report-appeal to the European Parliament that showed without a doubt that Mehdi had a right to asylum and that serious abuse was being carried out by the Home Office itself”. The European Parliament approved an urgent resolution for Mehdi Kazemi’s case, a resolution that was also signed by 142 MPs from the British House of Commons and 62 Lords. Europe and the United Kingdom itself finally recognised the need to change the procedure for evaluating and granting refugee status and political asylum. “It was a resounding defeat for the persecutory policies of Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith,” say the leaders of EveryOne, “a defeat that marked the decline in their star – but for the rights of refugees, the gay community, for activists throughout the world, for the minorities in Iran and countries where freedom is denied, it was a victory to remember”. But the real good news for young Mehdi (whose partner Parham was murdered by the executioner in Iran) arrived on May 19th. The British Embassy in Rome, on behalf of the British Government, wrote to EveryOne Group, communicating their joy for an event that no one believed possible when we first began the campaign against the deportation of homosexual refugees from the UK, and saved from deportation (thanks to the worldwide success of the Flowers Campaign) Pegah Emambakhsh. “How can a group like yours, without funding or protection from powers high up, expect to change the attitude of one of the most powerful governments in the world?” they said. We won because we believed in what we were doing, because we refused to accept the logic of inhumanity and death.

We won because we refused to give up, because in the event of Mehdi being deported, we were willing to fly to Teheran to demonstrate with placards, appealing to the executioners to spare the lives of Mehdi and Pegah (whom we trust will also receive good news very soon) and all the innocent people condemned to death due to unjust laws that cancel out the value of human life.”

While they celebrate this news, the members of EveryOne flourish copies of the email received from the British Embassy: “We are extremely happy to communicate this news: today in London a final decision was reached on Seyed Mehdi Kazemi’s case. After a re-examination of the case and in light of the new circumstances, as requested by the British Home Secretary, Mr Kazemi is now free to remain in the United Kingdom”.

For further information:
EveryOne Group
Tel: (+ 39) 331 3585406
www.everyonegroup.com :: info@everyonegroup.com
See also: www.annesdoor.com (in Italian)

See also on Gays Without Borders

And Therion’s Page : Mehdi Kazemi granted asylum in the UK

Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/view.php?id=7403

15th April 2008 18:20
Adam Lake

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.

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association released the latest version of their map of LGBT rights across the world.

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.

Full Article Pink News


Conservative MEP John Bowis made the following powerful speech in the European Parliament in favour of the successful resolution supporting Mehdi and Pegah Emambakhsh.


Bruxelles: The European Parliament has approved with 60 votes (46 in favour, 2 against and 12 abstentions) an urgent resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi – the 19-year-old Iranian gay – member of EveryOne Group – who is about to be extradited from Holland to the United Kingdom. He risked immediate deportation from London to Teheran, where the death sentence awaits him because of his homosexuality.

SEE ALSO :
https://gayswithoutborders.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/irqo-update-on-mehdi-kazemi-case/

Full text of the European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case:

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,

– having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,

– having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualifications Directive) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 on the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,

– having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was turned down,

– having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application turned down; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,

B. whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,

C. whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mehdi’s partner has already been executed, while his father has threatened him with death,

D. whereas in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh the UK authorities decided, after international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, but whereas it is still not clear what her fate will be,

E. whereas the UK Prime Minister’s spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, gave general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,

F. whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States as regards sexual orientation,

1. Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;

2. Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;

3. Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply European and national laws and procedures in a way which results in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;

4. Appeals to the Member states involved to find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;

5. Asks EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations, in the future, through cooperation and EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and evaluate the application of EU asylum law in Member States, and in particular as regards sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;

6. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.

Activist Peter Tatchell explains the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News,12 March 2008, item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.

tatchell-homeoffice.jpg

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:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/
(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

mehdidemo.jpg

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.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Protest photos:

Photos of the protest can be viewed and used free of charge for publication from the OutRage! photo website:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/

Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:
http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog_mehdi_220308.html

Permission is required from Marc Vallee for publication:
Mark Valee:

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.blog.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.archive.marcvallee.co.uk

ENDS

Galloway’s Iranian propaganda?

FULL TEXT HERE

The Respect MP has turned on supporters of gay rights in Iran and falsely accused us of war-mongering

By Peter Tatchell

The Guardian – Comment Is Free – 26 March 2008

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/peter_tatchell/2008/03/galloways_iranian_propaganda.html

Left-wing Respect MP George Galloway has been accused of making allegations that border on paedophile smears and play to homophobic prejudice. He claims that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for “committing sex crimes against young men.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-life-or-death-decision-792058.html

The insinuation of such a claim is that Mehdi’s boyfriend was a rapist or a child sex abuser. It also stigmatises Medhi with the shame that he was the partner of someone who committed sexual assaults on male youths. He may now suffer with this stigma when he is returned to the UK and could face considerable personal hostility from people who have heard and believe these allegations against his boyfriend. Mr Galloway made his astonishing allegation on The Wright Stuff programme on Channel 5 television.

At the anti-war protest in London on 15 March, which I supported and attended, Mr Galloway repeated these claims in his keynote speech. He said the “khaki war machine now has its pink contingent.” He went on to imply that people who support gay rights in Iran are “useful idiots” and said their aim is to “bamboozle the public to go along with mass murder in Iran.”

It is untrue and deeply offensive to suggest that those of us who oppose homophobic persecution in Iran are backing the bombing and invasion of Iran. We are not. I am on record in my writings and speeches as opposing an attack on Iran. When, for example, I exposed Tehran’s racist and neo-colonial persecution of its Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, I stated categorically: “I am part of a new campaign group, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI).

http://www.hopoi.org/

“HOPI opposes both a US war on Iran and the tyranny of the Iranian regime. My motto is: Neither Washington nor Tehran! “A war against Iran would be another disastrous neo-imperial adventure, which would strengthen the Tehran dictatorship. President Ahmadinejad would play the patriot and manipulate nationalism to rally the population behind him. He would use a US military attack as an excuse to further crack down on dissent in the name of safeguarding national security. “The overthrow of the theocratic police state by the Iranian people – not by US military intervention – is the best way to resolve the nuclear crisis and prevent a needless, unjustified war. With no dictatorship in Tehran, President Bush and the neo cons would lose the rationale for a military strike against Iran.”

FULL TEXT HERE

message.jpg

Defend Mehdi Kazemi

Oppose Iran’s homophobic persecution

Reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees

Join the protest

This Saturday, 22 March

2pm to 3pm

Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1

Friends and supporters of gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, are asking you to join our protest opposite Downing Street this Saturday, March 22nd:

Our demands are:

– Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to his death in Iran
– Down with Iran’s homophobic laws
– For the right to settle in the UK.

The event is sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, and is supported by the LGBT human rights group, OutRage!

www.union-solidarity.org has more details.

OutRage! is highlighting the five failings of the Home Office with regard to LGBT refugees:

– No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators

– No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation

– No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum detention camps

– No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT people in violently homophobic countries

– No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum applicants

We hope to see you on Saturday at 2pm.

Solidarity and appreciation, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

18th March 2008, PinkNews.co.uk

A teenager from Syria who tried to claim asylum in the UK on the grounds of his sexual orientation has pleaded with the Home Office to reverse a deportation order.

Jojo Jako Yakob claims he faces certain death if he is returned to his homeland.

A deportation order was enacted against him after he was arrested for possession of a fake Belgian passport and placed in Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Scotland.

Yakob fled Syria when he was faced with persecution and arrest because of his sexual orientation.

The 19-year-old is to launch a legal challenge in order to reverse the deportation order so he can spend the rest of his life in Scotland.

He escaped Syria two years ago after surviving severe abuse at the hands of the Syrian police and prison guards, when he was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.

Following his transfer from police interrogation, prison guards soon discovered that Yakob was homosexual.

He then suffered horrific beatings and was assaulted so badly that he fell into a coma.

After being transferred to hospital, he managed to flee to Lebanon making for London hidden in a lorry.

He applied for asylum and was granted extended leave by the Home Office, but was then arrested in Aberdeen last April after being found in possession of a fake Belgian passport.

He was handed a 12-month sentence and sent to Polmont Young
Offenders Unit in Falkirk.

His lawyers say his asylum application was then mistakenly withdrawn and, as a result, he has been served with a deportation order, pending a final hearing this May.

If Yakob is deported to Syria, it is likely that he will be rearrested and could potentially face the same kind of abuse that caused him to flee to the UK.

Talking about the ordeal that he faced, Yakob told the Scotland on Sunday:

“I was tortured. I was beaten. At one point I was put up against a wall and a handgun pointed at me.

“I was told that if I did not tell the authorities what they wanted to know they would shoot me dead.

“I did not tell them anything, I did not think they would shoot me.

“The police officer then shot me in my upper left arm. At that point, I told them what they wanted to know as I believed that they would shoot me dead.”

Yakob says he was held in police cells for 20 days without charge and subjected to daily electric shock torture and beatings before being transferred to Ahdas Prison, near the Turkish border.

In prison, he formed a relationship with a gay prisoner named Hassain.

Yakob explained: “Hassain was serving a sentence, he told me, for 25 years.

“He told me that the sentence was only because he was gay.”

After the pair were seen sleeping together in jail, Yakob said he was subjected to systematic beatings, which “went on for days into weeks.”

“I was also subjected to cold-water torture, where I was put in a room and buckets of cold water were constantly thrown over me,” he told Scotland on Sunday.

“I could not remember what day it was or how long I had been in prison.

“One day I woke up in hospital in a nearby town of Kamishli. The doctor who was treating me told me that I had been in a coma for 20 days.

“He said to the authorities that I could not return to prison as I was not fit and I could not stand trial until I had had a rest. He suggested that I be sent home for recuperation.”

A spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London denied that torture of gay people took place.

“Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, but there are no special units to deal with this problem,” he told Scotland on Sunday.

“People are not prosecuted – society looks at this as a disease for which they can be treated – it is a similar position to that taken by the Vatican.

“I cannot give a clearer answer.”

Yakob will appear before a full immigration hearing in Glasgow on May 7th to determine his fate.

His case is similar to that of Mehdi Kazemi, 19, who was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.

The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.

His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland.

The Dutch authorities ruled he should be returned to the UK but after a campaign led by members of the House of Lords and MEPs the Home Office has decided to review his case.

Full Article