Six Iranian refugees have been protesting outside the notorious UK Border Agency in Croydon, London since 5 April 2011. Mahyar Meyari (age 17), Mehran Meyari (20), Kiavash Bahari (26), Keyvan Bahari (30), Morteza Bayat (30) and Ahmad Sadeghi (55) are all protesting against the denial of their asylum claims. Keyvan Bahari has scars across his back and arms from 12 days of being slashed with razor blades by the Islamic Republic authorities. Mahyar Meyari, a teenager, was among those raped in prison after being arrested for participating in one of the post-election protests of 2009. He was only 15 years old at the time.
The widespread persecution of people who oppose the Islamic Republic regime is well-documented. Keith Best, the Chief Executive of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, states that “the greatest number of people from any particular country who come to us as torture survivors are from Iran, where we know from their personal testimony and the experience that they’ve had, and the evidence of the scars and the anguish that they’ve suffered, that they have been hanged up, they have been beaten, they have been whipped, they have been held in solitary confinement.”
Yet the UK Border Agency is carrying on its business as usual, illegally denying asylum claims and deporting as many refugees as it can, as quickly as it can, in hopes of avoiding public campaigns such as this one. However, the British government’s practice of illegally deporting Iranian asylum-seekers back to a regime that has been condemned at the UN, by national governments like Norway, and by organizations like Amnesty International for its political repression of the population and its ongoing wave of executions leaves the UK open to prosecution in international court. The Chief Prosecutor of the Islamic Republic, Mohsen Eje’i, among others, has explicitly linked Articles 4, 5 and 7 of the Islamic Penal Code to severe consequences for Iranians who have sought political asylum abroad. As such, any Iranian seeking political asylum in another country is de facto subject to prosecution – hence persecution – by the Islamic Republic regime. It is thus clearly illegal under jus cogens international law to forcibly deport an Iranian political asylum-seeker back into the hands of the Islamic Republic.
To add injustice on top of injustice, three of these young men, after having fled the barbarity of the Islamic regime only to be met with the brutality of the British government’s denial of their rights, have also been subjected to thuggish attacks by the public in Croydon; one person attempted to murder them by setting their tent on fire with the refugees inside, while others have thrown bottles at them.
ICRIR demands that the rights of these refugees to asylum and protection be upheld; their formal refugee status should be conferred, and they should not be forced to live in fear of refoulement to Iran. Given the explicitly-stated intention of the Islamic Republic to prosecute Iranian political refugees on the basis of the Islamic Penal Code, it is clear that nothing less than conferring prima facie status for Iranian refugees is acceptable.
We encourage Iranian refugees whose rights are violated to protest publicly and without self-harm. The strongest advocates for refugee rights are refugees themselves. Their strong voices must be heard, and if they silence themselves through self-harm, they lose those the power of those voices. Refugees in need of assistance should contact refugee rights advocacy organizations for assistance in bringing attention to their cases and ensuring that their rights are upheld.
Sign the petition for the Iranian refugees in Croydon.
Members of the ICRIR 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.