RS was deported on Friday, 21st October at 6:30 in the morning from Sweden to Iran.
RS arrived in Sweden 11 years ago, applied for asylum, was denied, worked, had a work-related accident, went under surgery, was denied the usual insurance benefits because he was denied asylum, and was handicapped for life. Three days before deportation, he was arrested and detained in Märsta; he was then sent from Arlanda in Stockholm to Iran.
RS had a lawyer. Mission Free Iran (MFI), which was informed of our RS’s existence in Märsta by Nasi Peyghambaryan, one of the asylum-rights activists in Stockholm, succeeded in contacting the lawyer, a woman by the name GS, after hours of calling by phone and ultimately by threatening the secretary in the lawyer’s office with legal action. During the conversation with GS, I, in details explained the Coalition’s abilities and informed her that our Coalition is able to organize a variety of types of support, from demonstrations in the street to professional and specialized legal assistance. All we need is for her to tell us what is she needs. RS’s lawyer assured me that all of the areas had been covered, among them submitting a complaint to the European Court, and she didn’t need our help. However, she said that a membership confirmation letter from Mujaheddin would help RS. [Mujaheddin-e Khalq, also known as MEK or PMOI is an Iranian anti-regime organization].
Today, I strongly doubt that GS had covered all necessary legal areas, among them, and in RS’s situation the most important of all, being the complaint to the European Court. The Migration authorities in Sweden denied that any attempt had been made by the lawyer that could prevent the implementation of the deportation order by the police. We, through Rasoul Benavand from the International Organization of Refugees – Borderless, and others, tried to get the reference number of the complaint with the European Court from GS, but her answer was that her computer was broken or something like that.
We will ask this lawyer to answer to our questions, and we reserve our right to respond accordingly to her answers. We will ask: “Had GS contacted the European Court to stop the deportation of RS? If yes, why was this not relayed to the Swedish authorities to stop the deportation? If yes, and this measure was relayed to the Swedish authorities, how could her client, without any legal obstacle, be deported to the Islamic regime of torture and rape?” If GS’s answer is negative, if for whatever reason she did not file the complaint, why hadn’t she done that, and why did she not use our possibilities in this respect? Hadn’t we frankly, openly, and in plain Swedish, offered all manner of help and assistance?
Our next step was to contact Mujaheddin to get RS a letter of membership confirmation. RS had himself tried, and he told us that giving such a letter is not Mujaheddin’s policy. RS told us that all his efforts to contact a person by the name of Khazaie, who, according to RS is responsible for Mujaheddin in Scandinavia, had met with no response. MFI contacted some Mujaheddin friends and demanded that this organization take responsibility with respect to the situation of RS. Yet, despite the fact that our dear Mujahed friend managed to contact Mujaheddin in Sweden, they denied any knowledge of RS and his need for support by his organization. Our efforts in this respect proved futile. In practice, Mujaheddin did not lift a finger to assist RS, and this is not the first time.
Next, we contacted the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington and their offices in Baku, Azerbaijan, which is the country where RS’s flight was to stop over prior to entering Iran. We as usual shared our information with our contact persons in UNHCR and asked for assistance. We always do this in similar situations because we still hope that they show responsibility and enthusiasm for their work. These call themselves “candles of hope” in the darkness of rightslessness, and frequently send themselves congratulatory greetings and appreciative flowers. We are truly sorry that our efforts have never born fruit thus far, and this bureaucratic, very expensive, motionless, and impotent organization is passively observing the violation of even those outdated rights, conventions, and international laws of 1951.
RS not only was physically in a very bad situation, but psychologically he was devastated. He was taken by surprise by the Swedish government. Just imagine escaping from prison and torture in Iran, escaping from the regime of execution and rape, living 11 years under the mistaken assumption of security in a democratic European country, and in a single blow they shatter the world you have created for yourself over your head. This element of surprise – of ambush – has always produced very serious difficulties in establishing clear and effective communications with the asylum-seeker in danger of deportation.
We worked exceptionally hard in the first two days to pull out information about RS’s life. Detailed information about the case is essential to our work. In order to give effective, detailed information, the person at risk of deportation must be in total control of him- or herself and their memories, especially when it has been 11 years since one has applied for asylum. All of these pressures, and the fear of what may happen to the person [upon deportation] are always serious obstacles and work against us. This was a particularly strong factor in RS’s case.
Our dear friend Nasi Peyghambaryan and I spent hours during those two days until at last, on Thursday evening, we were able to get a little information about RS’s background in Iran under the Islamic Republic of murderers to use in a letter-writing campaign aimed at the authorities, among them the honorable migration minister Mr. Billstrom. It was unfortunately too late.
Three days before the deportation, the same day that MFI was informed about RS, the European Organization for Iranian Refugees also, through Ali Mansouri, was informed about RS’s case, and Mr. Esmaili Yari from this organization contacted RS and asked for his case and the details. Unfortunately, due to the above-mentioned circumstances, RS was incapable of sending what was needed. He wrote a few lines in general about his organizational affiliation, and generally about those years he had spent in prison, etc. And at the same time, under the assumption that the lawyer in the case was doing all that was needed, in practice, the hands of our colleagues from EOIR were tied and could not do much.
Friday, the 21st of October, the day that RS was returned to Iran, the Swedish Justice Party organized a demonstration in Stockholm, a picket in Märsta and later in Arlanda, which unfortunately did not produce the desired result.
You cannot imagine yourself in RS and Ali Mansouri’s and others’ shoes and not hate the Swedish government’s anti-human policies to the center of your bones. But the reality is that the deportation of asylum-seekers by the right-wing government of Sweden or the left-wing government of Cyprus is not news. What is new is this apparent necessity of “spring cleaning” of asylum-seekers: Iranian asylum-seekers, Iraqis, Congolese, Ethiopians, Afghans – the asylum-seekers of the world.
The International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees has plans to change this situation. To implement these plans it has already initiated in Cyprus, we need time and resources in Scandinavia. The International Federation of Iranian Refugees, the International Organization of Refugees – Borderless, and a number of other organizations and asylum-rights defenders have organized a demonstration on the 28th of October on Stockholm. We hope that this effort reaches its main goals, and moves the question of human rights of asylum-seekers to the fore as one of the most fundamental issues on any society’s agenda, thereby paving the way to the initiation of a political offensive to change the current situation.
RS’s deportation was illegal and criminal. We need to create the situation in which governments cannot play with the lives of those who need support in the way that they did with RS.
On behalf of the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees,