Since the June 2009 elections, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to detain, torture and execute dissidents at home, while seeking international assistance in capturing and silencing anti-regime activists living abroad. At a time when the Islamic regime is brutally repressing peaceful protesters, journalists, students, and human rights activists within its borders, England is supporting the regime’s efforts to silence dissidents abroad. The British government has initiated deportation procedures against Bita Ghaedi, a female asylum-seeker who has suffered extensive gender-based violence in Iran and who is an active member of an anti-regime political party. Mission Free Iran strongly condemns England’s failure to acknowledge the lethality of gender oppression in Iran. We further condemn England’s complicity with the Islamic Republic in silencing dissident voices.
Washington, D.C. April 18, 2010 – As the Islamic Republic continues to openly arrest, torture and execute political activists within its borders, it has also sought international assistance in capturing and silencing anti-regime activists living abroad. Supporting the regime’s efforts, England has begun deportation procedures against Ms. Bita Ghaedi. Ghaedi’s grounds for asylum-seeking include both her active membership in an anti-regime political party as well as the extensive gender-based violence that she suffered as a woman under the gender-apartheidist regime of the Islamic Republic.
If returned to the Islamic Republic, Ghaedi’s anti-regime activism will likely result in a sentence of execution; she is also under threat of stoning for her refusal to submit to gender-based oppression in Iran.
England’s effort to forcibly return a female Iranian anti-regime activist constitutes a violation of the international principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits forcibly returning a person to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. Ms. Ghaedi has a well-founded fear of persecution by the Islamic regime for her political activism. She also has a well-founded fear of the social violence that she would face upon returning to Iran as a woman who has resisted the inhumane shari’a law that is the foundation of the constitution of the Islamic Republic. She warrants recognition as a refugee and merits protections under UN agreements on the Status of Refugees, to which England is a signatory.
Ghaedi’s case has global implications: If England flouts human rights standards and international principles on the status of refugees, consequences for refugees worldwide will be dire. We consider especially the impact of England’s actions on thousands of new Iranian refugees surviving precariously in Turkey, which has in the past violated the principle of non-refoulement and has begun systematic though unofficial persecution of this new wave of Iranian refugees.
We demand that England set the appropriate international precedent in this matter by freeing Bita Ghaedi, stopping the deportation proceedings, formally establishing Ghaedi’s refugee status, and implementing appropriate protections to preserve her life. We demand that England uphold refugee rights according to international standards, and we extend this demand throughout the world wherever refugee rights are threatened.