Despite a court case in Iran for apostasy (leaving the Islamic religion) pending against asylum-seeker Keivan Soufastaie, and despite violent crackdowns by the Islamic Republic on Christians in Iran both historically and particularly in recent months, the government of Sweden had turned down the asylum application of Mr. Soufastaie, arrested him, and intended to deport him to Iran on Friday, January 7, 2011. Deporting him to Iran would have resulted in certain arrest, beatings and torture, and probable execution.
As a result of concerted efforts by numerous organizations and individuals, Keivan’s deportation has been halted by the Swedish government and his asylum case has been re-opened. On Wednesday, January 5th, Keivan was given notice that he was free to leave the detention center where he was being held prior to deportation.
Along with Keivan, the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees thanks everyone who helped to raise awareness about Keivan’s case, demanded that he not be deported to Iran, and demanded instead that his full complement of rights as a refugee be recognized by the Swedish government. This success demonstrates that unity of action toward a common goal results in achievements that are humane and beneficial both for individuals as well as for the global society.
Deporting a person at risk of persecution back to their country of origin is a violation of jus cogens international law, as well as Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment and torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Given the objective conditions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees demands that UNHCR immediately recognize Iranians fleeing their country as prima facie refugees. The ICRIR is determined to pursue each of our cases worldwide to ensure that not only the UNHCR but international governments live up to their responsibilities under the UN conventions and sovereign law which are meant to guarantee vulnerable refugees safe haven in their countries.
International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees
Members of the ICRIR include the International Federation for Iranian Refugees, the Iranian Refugee Action Network, the Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.