Human Rights, Solidarity with Refugees

ICRIR Open Letter to UNHCR-Iraq: Uphold Your Mandate in the Case of Saa’di Alipanah

ICRIR has written a letter in support of the asylum application of Saa’di Alipanah and his family, which includes his partner and their three children. They are one of the families who had held a camp-in for several months outside of the UNHCR offices in Erbil, Iraq, to protest against the UNHCR’s refusal to render a decision in their case; Mr. Alipanah remains in the camp. Mr. Alipanah’s account of the abusive treatment he and even his children have experienced at the hands of UNHCR staff is not at all unusual; ICRIR has received accounts from numerous refugees with the same allegations of abusive and dehumanizing treatment from UNHCR staff, as well as reports about the refusal of UNHCR staff to perform even its most basic function: registering asylum-seekers.

We continue to demand that UNHCR in Geneva bring its operations in Iraq up to a minimal acceptable standard or put an end to the charade that is functioning in Iraq.

More about the story of Saa’di Alipanah can be found in a Farsi-language interview with broadcast journalist Mino Hemati on her program Rahai-Zan TV. We also thank Sajjad Torkashvand for his selfless assistance in working to help Mr. Alipanah and his family obtain asylum in a third country out of reach of the Islamic Republic.

ICRIR Open Letter to UNHCR-Iraq: Uphold Your Mandate in the Case of Saa’di Alipanah

To Rana Ksaifi and Iraj Imomberdiev at UNHCR in Iraq (Erbil)
Regarding Saadi Mahmoud Mohammad Alipanah, UNHCR Registration No: 463-06C07507

April 22, 2011

We are writing to object to UNHCR’s refusal to find a permanent solution for Iranian asylum-seeker Saadi Mahmoud Mohammad Alipanah and his family. Mr. Alipanah reports that despite many months of waiting, a number of fruitless interviews with UNHCR staff, and the subjection of he and his children to inhumane and degrading treatment by UNHCR staff, he still has not been given any decision about his asylum status.

As a member of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (Reg no: 0621180), which opposes the current regime in Iran, and as someone who has reported threats against him by the Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Alipanah has well-established grounds for obtaining refugee status.

His demand is to be resettled in any safe third country where it is possible for his family to live in safety and out of reach of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As refugees, Mr. Alipanah and his family have the right under international law to asylum and protection, and they may not be refouled to Iran for any reason. Yet UNHCR’s dysfunctional operations in Iraq leave Mr. Alipanah without any form of asylum or protection, and leave him exposed to refoulement to the Islamic Republic, where he is under threat. This is a clear abrogation of Mr. Alipanah’s rights under the law.

We are aware that the UNHCR offices in Iraq are not functioning. However, as long as UNHCR continues to give the public the impression that it is functioning in Iraq, it must take responsibility for its decisionmaking (or lack thereof) in this and other cases. We continue to demand that the rights of refugees be upheld and we support the application of Mr. Alipanah and his family for asylum in a safe third country.

Maria Rohaly
International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees
phone: +1.202.630.0385

cc: Inspector General’s Office, UNHCR, Geneva

Members of the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees include Action for Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East, International Federation for Iranian Refugees, Iranian Refugees Action Network, Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.

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