by Maria Rohaly
We at Mission Free Iran have campaigned hard over the past few weeks for Jamal Saberi’s freedom and for his legal status as a refugee to be declared. Because of his activism for human rights and against the Islamic regime, and because his party (Worker-communist Party of Iran) is a vocal opponent of the Islamic regime, Saberi will face certain execution if he is forcibly returned. Yet in violation of its own and international laws, the Japanese government is trying to deport him to Iran.
We were determined to stop Jamal’s deportation to Iran to save his life. But we also believed that by defeating Japan’s bid to deport Saberi to Iran, we could deter other governments from attempting the same illegal act.
Because we knew there would be more cases, and more efforts to break international and national laws against violating the principle of non-refoulement. More attempts by Western governments to appease the Islamic regime by sending its opponents home to be dealt with accordingly: by execution.
Her life in Iran was circumscribed, bound, tortured, and scarred by the pervasive gender-based violence she experienced. Her political activities with PMOI/MEK/MKO mark her as an opponent of the regime, and also one who will face certain execution upon return to Iran.
She has sought refuge in the UK with viable grounds for establishing refugee status. She has numerous reasons to fear for her life if she is returned, and yet today, David Miliband’s government declared that she would be deported back to Iran this Tuesday, April 20 2010.
Like Jamal Saberi, Bita Ghaedi is first and foremost a human being with human rights. Regardless of political party, regardless of ideology, the lives of these people come first. We must stand up for these people, who have committed no crimes. Their lives are treated, meanly, like pawns on a gameboard. The lion’s share of the shame in this goes to the governments that willingly sit across the table from the Islamic regime and engage with it, legitimating its torturing, murdering ways.
Our lives are not pawns for the bloody games of governments that pay nothing more than lip service to ideals of human rights, to the international laws they have committed themselves to. If these governments of Japan, of England – if they cannot manage the simple act of holding themselves accountable for the commitments they have made, then we must remind them of their place, their commitments, and to whom they are responsible: to the people. To us. To you, to me, to Bita and Jamal.
Shame on the UK.
Shame on Japan.
Shame on the human rights organizations that stay silent in the face of an onslaught of undeniable violations.
Bravo to the beautiful sisters and brothers who stand up to fight for the lives of all of the Bitas and Jamals of this world.
I close with the words of Bishop Niemoeller, from the time of the Holocaust. We know them nearly by heart, yet forget them every day:
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
Updated on April 17:
Actions to take to stop Bita’s deportation from UK to Iran are here:
Many thanks to Prerna Lal for developing US-based campaign materials overnight for Bita, including:
The need here is to save Bita’s life, but it is bigger than that too: these forced returns are grave violations of human rights on par with the behavior of the Islamic regime, yet being committed by so-called “democracies.”
Western governments need to be put back in their place, and we do that by forcing them to comply with international standards and principles of human rights.
Bita and Jamal are the tip of the iceberg, folks. If we don’t stand up now and put an end to this, and demand a strict moratorium on all deportations to Iran while the Islamic regime is in power, we will have a long row to hoe. It is in our best interests to stop the depredations of the UK & Japanese governments NOW, in order to stave off the threatening refugee and deportation crisis that is waiting in the wings.
Do what you can, and do it quickly: her flight is already booked.
BY STOPPING THE UK FROM DEPORTING BITA, WE SEND A MESSAGE TO GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE THAT WE DEMAND THAT THEY RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS, ~*NOT DICTATORS*~