UPDATE:11 FEB 2O12, A SECOND LAWYER, MR. YARI FROM “FUTURE IALA” STARTED WORKING ON MOHAMMADREZA’S BEHALF SINCE LAST NIGHT. THE ORDINARY LAWYER SENT A SECOND APPEAL CHALLENGING THE MIGRATIONS OFFICE LATEST REJECTION.
UPDATE: 10 FEB 2012, THE SWEDISH GOVERNMENT (MIGRATION OFFICE) DENIED THE APPEAL FILED BY MOHAMMADREZA’S LAWYER TODAY. A NEW LAWYER IS BEING SOUGHT. IN THE MEANTIME, IT IS URGENT THAT EVERYONE SEND A LETTER OF PROTEST TO SWEDEN’S MIGRATION OFFICE (INFO BELOW). WE HAVE ONE WORKING DAY LEFT TO STOP THIS CRIME.DEPORT DATE: 14 FEB 2012.
The Swedish government once again intends to illegally deport an Iranian human rights activist and convert to Christianity (punishable by death in Iran) back into the hands of the Islamic Republic. This post provides the story and background documents for Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani and his family, and we have drafted an open letter to Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy protesting this illegal and lethal deportation to Iran. Please contribute by urgently participating in the letter-writing action, below.
Mohammadreza and his family – his wife and two young daughters – are 4 of Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billström’s latest victims.
Mohammadreza and his family arrived in Sweden in September 2008 and sought political asylum. The reason this family fled Iran was like that of many others who in great numbers convert from Islam to some other religion. Mohammad Reza believes that he owes the life of his daughter to a miracle, and that Jesus played a role in this. In December 2007, he and his wife and daughter converted from Islam to Christianity in secret in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in the Russian Protestant Church.
Mohammad Reza’s conversion remained a secret for a very short time, until he started advocating for his new belief. His problems, including harassment by the workplace security “Harasat” authority, started soon after. Mohammad Reza and his family were forced to seek safety in a place where no one knew about their conversion. In Tehran, they were informed that he was tried in his absence, found guilty of apostasy and propagating against Islam, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 75 lashes. The Islamic Republic’s official documentation of these charges against Mohammad Reza, and his sentencing, appear below.
In light of the grave consequences that await Mohammadreza and his family if he should be deported – both due to the pending “apostasy” sentence, a quintessential “crime” ofconscience, and due to the fact that Mohammadreza has participated in numerous public demonstrations against the Islamic Republic regime – we urge everyone to urgently submit a letter to the Swedish Migration Office in protest of Mohammadreza’s deportation.
A sample letter is provided below. Please act quickly as there are only 2 working days left until Mohammadreza’s deportation date of Tuesday 14 February 2012.
Please urgently copy/paste this or your own version & add your own signature to the webforms for contacting Tobias Billström, Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy and his Press Secretary Linda Norberg.
Open Letter to Tobias Billström, Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Regarding the Illegal Refoulement of Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani (case #11-084450/11)
To Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Sweden:
I am writing to you with regard to the urgent case of Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani, an Iranian asylum-seeker who has sought refuge in Sweden from persecution by the Islamic Republic of Iran (case no. 11-084450/11). Mr. Esfahani is a baptized convert to Christianity; as a result, he has been convicted of “apostasy” and “war against Islam,” and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 75 lashes for his religious beliefs. Documents to this effect may be viewed here:
Mr. Esfahani has also been very publicly active in protests against the Islamic Republic regime. Your own office’s Director for Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Board has concluded that “the Iranian regime has both a strong desire and the ability to monitor its citizens in Sweden.” Mr. Esfahani’s front-line presence in demonstrations, images of which are easily available both in the heavily monitored social media as well as in Swedish news media, ensure that the Islamic Republic is aware of Mr. Esfahani’s activities, which are considered crimes under the dictatorial regime. A sampling of Mr. Esfahani’s political activism against the Islamic Republic regime in Iran can be reviewed here: -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKKNysa8KMc
Thus it is well-established that, in addition to documents from the Islamic regime demonstrating its intent to severely punish Mr. Esfahani for converting to Christianity, Mr. Esfahani has additional well-founded fears of persecution by this regime on the basis of his honorable political activism in support of human rights and against the barbaric regime in Iran.
Mr. Esfahani 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.
We therefore demand an immediate halt to the illegal refoulement of Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani.
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 Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani 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 Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani, who will certainly face torture and 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 deportation of Mohammadreza Hamedian Esfahani, but must immediately cease all deportations to Iran.