I am writing to you with regard to the urgent case of Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan, an Iranian asylum-seeker who has sought refuge in Sweden from persecution by the Islamic Republic of Iran (case no. 10859037). Mr. Foroutan has engaged in political and armed struggle against the Islamic Republic, and has previously been imprisoned and under torture by the Islamic Republic. Yet the government of Sweden has inexplicably denied his application for asylum and is illegally implementing his deportation on May 5, 2011 – an act that will without question result in his execution in Iran.
We demand an immediate halt to the illegal refoulement of Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan for the following reasons:
1- Mr. Foroutan meets all criteria for formal recognition as a refugee; it is thus illegal to refoule him. Article 33 (1) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which states that: “No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Sweden, as a signatory to the UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, is required under this convention, and consequently under jus cogens international law, to comply with the inalienable rights of refugees to asylum, protection and no forced return to their country of origin.
2- Deportation of Mr. Foroutan to Iran constitutes an execution sentence imposed by Sweden. Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan has engaged in political and armed struggle against the criminal and illegitimate regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a member of Komala (Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran). The Islamic Republic has set ample precedent for executing or sentencing to death activists like Mr. Foroutan, including activists who have not taken up armed opposition against the regime as has Mr. Foroutan. Only recent examples include:
– Ehsan Fattahian, also a member of Komala, who was executed on November 11, 2009, for participation in the same anti-regime activities as Mr. Foroutan.
– Hossein Khezri, who was executed on January 15, 2011 on charges of anti-regime propaganda and collaborating with anti-regime groups.
– Shirko Moarefi, whose execution in Iran is believed to be imminent (coverage in the Guardian from May 1, 2011); detained under torture since 2008, he too has been accused of support of the political arm of Komala.
There is no question that Mr. Foroutan will be executed if deported to Iran. Thus, deporting Mr. Foroutan to Iran is tantamount to an execution sentence being implemented by the government of Sweden. Execution is illegal under Swedish law.
3- The Islamic Republic considers all Iranian political asylum-seekers to be criminal propagating against the regime and has promised prosecution of returned asylum-seekers. The Islamic Republic has on several occasions declared and applied its intent to prosecute returned political asylum-seekers, on the basis of Article 7 of the Islamic Republic’s Penal Code. The regime’s Chief Prosecutor, Mohsen Eje’i, has supported arguments articulated by retired judge and lawyer Abdoulnabi Molahzadeh, who stated on February 17, 2011 that anyone who has filed a political refugee case is considered a person engaged in propaganda against the Islamic regime and therefore criminal and subject to prosecution under Article 7. A recent example of the application of this intent is the case of Rahim Rostami, a teen-aged Kurdish asylum seeker who was extradited from Norway to Iran on February 9th 2011, and is currently detained in Evin Prison (which houses primarily political prisoners).
Sweden’s Record of Violation of Refugee Rights
On September 3, 2010, in the case of R.c. v. Sweden (application no. 41827/07), the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found that deporting an Iranian dissident to Iran would be a violation by the Swedish authorities of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Yet despite this finding, the Swedish government continues to deport Iranian activists like Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan, Mohammad Mehdi Maleki, and others, who are clearly and undeniably at risk not only of detention and torture by the Islamic Republic of Iran, but at unquestionable risk of execution.
We demand an urgent, immediate halt to Sweden’s intended illegal refoulement of Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan, who is at clear risk for execution if returned to the Islamic Republic. Given the the Migration Office’s blatant, repeated violations of refugee rights that risk the lives of Iranian and other asylum-seekers, we demand that Sweden must not only immediately halt the illegal refoulement of Mohammad Sirvan Foroutan, but must immediately cease all deportations to Iran.
on behalf of
Mission Free Iran
International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees