Human Rights, Solidarity with Refugees

ICRIR: Pressure Rises as Berlin Activists Protest Outside the Embassy of Cyprus to Demand Rights of Iranian and Other Refugees

On 27 May 2011, activists from CODE e.V. in Berlin, Germany implemented the third in a multinational series of protest demonstrations at Cypriot embassies to demand that the rights of Iranian and other refugees in Cyprus be upheld. Their specific demands included the following:

– Provision of medical care for sick asylum seekers
– Release of all imprisoned refugees
– Provision of an impartial translator to asylum seekers during interviews
– Granting of work permits to refugees in order for them to work legally
– Avoiding the deportation of asylum seekers back to Iran at all costs

The activists also hand-delivered a letter of complaint to the staff of the Embassy of Cyprus in Berlin (the text of the letter is available in English, German and Farsi).

Cyprus has a refugee recognition rate of approximately one percent – among the lowest in the European Union – a clear indication that rights of asylum-seekers are grievously violated in Cyprus. Numerous reports have emerged over the years about the arbitrary and illegal detention of Iranian refugees in Cyprus, sometimes for years. This reality was reflected in the signs carried by demonstrators which declared, “Refugees are not criminals!”

These include Mansour Zahabi, an illegally-detained asylum-seeker who fled the brutality of the Islamic Republic in Iran, only to be denied his right to asylum in Cyprus. During the Cypriot government’s illegal detention of Mr. Zahabi, he has been denied medical care, including care for a Hepatitis C infection that he acquired inside the prison as a result of the execrable conditions inside the facility.

Other prevalent violations of the rights of asylum-seekers in Cyprus include the lack of access to medical care when needed. Protesters represented the case of denied asylum-seeker Elahe Rahimi, whose lower limbs, due to complications of diabetes, are being progressively consumed by gangrene. Due to the Cypriot government’s refusal to provide appropriate medical care, the gangrene has progressed to the degree that her life is at imminent risk. This is in violation of numerous United Nations and European covenants and agreements regarding fundamental human rights.

Dr. Sohela Jandi, one of the organizers of the Berlin action, has been instrumental in arranging for crucial assistance to the asylum-seekers in Cyprus. The ICRIR thanks Dr. Jandi and all of those who participated in the Berlin demonstration to support Iranian and other refugees in Cyprus.

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.

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