Our contacts in the Cyprus Refugee Rights Movement have informed us that on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, three of the detained asylum-seekers in Central Nicosia Prison received letters of release from detention. Ghassem Navkhouri and Reza Hamzeh have received leave to stay for 6 months, after which they are required to present their passports to the migration office [this is a precursor to deportation]. Seyed Reza Seyedi has received what is known as a “one-piece paper;” he is to present himself to the Migration Office to receive an alien book, and his asylum case is to be reopened.
On Wednesday, 18 May 2011, a letter of release from Larnaca Prison was issued for Mojtaba Khosrovan and Carlos Rharibian. These two also received a letter of leave to stay in Cyprus for a year, after which they are required to present their passport to the Migration Office.
Additionally, on 18 May, a letter of release was issued for two detainees in Limassol detention center, Ebrahim Bakhshi Nejat Safari and Kamyar Jamshidpour. These two were also offered leave to stay for one year, after which they are required to present their passports to migration office. These two have not agreed to the conditions of release and so remain in prison.
Those from Nicosia and Larnaca are believed to have accepted the conditions.
On Saturday, 21 May 2011, three of the detainees were released under the aforementioned conditions.
Many detainees are unwilling to accept such conditional release. Another illegally-detained Iranian asylum-seeker in Cyprus, upon being presented with such conditional release, stated: “With all due respect, be reminded that I have from the beginning been consistent in reiterating my unwillingness to have anything to do with the Embassy of my country of birth, whose authorities are hunting for my life. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have you detain me illegally for up to 9 months, taking away my health, freedom, and other fundamental rights if it is safe for me to get a passport from the Iranian Embassy and return.”
ICRIR condemns the Cyprus government’s illegal detention of Iranian refugees and, subsequently, the offer of release from detention as extortion to compel Iranian asylum-seekers to obtain an Iranian passport. The behavior of the Cypriot government is illegal under EU charters and under international refugee law.
We demand that the Government of Cyprus immediately come into compliance with the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights with particular application to the situation of asylum-seekers, and we demand that the European Union itself play a supervisory role in this regard.
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.