Swedish government intends to violate international asylum law again
The Swedish government has denied asylum to Iranian union activist Ezzat Dolatabadi, putting him at risk of forced deportation to Iran – a place where unionists are systematically harassed, arrested, and detained under torture as political prisoners.
The Swedish government, as an important and well-respected member of the international community, praised for its stance on “human rights” and “social justice,” has had over the past 33 years its share of legitimizing the Islamic regime’s atrocities by keeping silent in the face of the regime’s crimes and ignoring Sweden’s moral and legally-binding responsibilities with respect to the Islamic regime’s mass murder and genocide (1).
Too, the anti-asylum practices of the right wing government of Sweden are nothing new: this government, led by the “Moderate” party, has sent many asylum-seekers to the hellhole of the Islamic Republic, a barbaric and murderous dictatorship, and has tried to forcibly deport Iranian political activists to Iran, including Marzieh Kamangar, Hossein Jasbi, and Navid Mirpourzadeh, among many others (2). And now the Swedish government has denied Ezzat Dolatabadi his self-evident right to asylum.
About labor activist Ezzat Dolatabadi
Ezzat Dolatabadi is a political and union activist who has pursued his ideals since the 1979 revolution. That revolution, after decades of suppression, brought the Iranian working class to the forefront of politics, and the workers’ united actions and strikes put an end to the Shah’s reign of terror. But the working class movement did not stop there: from its earliest days, the 1979 Islamic counterrevolution has been challenged by an organized and advanced economic and political movement.
Ezzat, like thousands of leftist working-class activists, has been deeply involved in the struggle for the working class cause. Ezzat began his professional engagement in the labour movement by working with the Metal and Mechanical Syndicate in 1979, becoming a full member within a year.
By 1980, the Islamic regime had already organized physical attacks against labour-oriented events and gatherings, as well as attacks on all democratic achievements of the revolution (3). In 1983, the Metal and Mechanical Syndicate was dismantled by the regime through systematic attacks against the union and arrests of its members including Ezzat, who was detained by the Islamic Revolution Committee on charges of being a member of the union, being a board member of the union, and membership in Fedaeyin Aghaliyat. He was subjected to torture while held under arbitrary detention.
Subsequent to his release from detention, Ezzat resumed his political and unionist activities covertly. As a socialist and member of Fedaeyin Aghaliyat, he participated in organized efforts to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. He actively opposed participation in the Iran-Iraq War, and worked with other activists to get the unions on their feet again. He was eventually ordered by his party to cease his activities due to the dangers posed by the regime.
From 1999 until 2010, Ezzat Dolatabadi worked in the oil sector in Iran as a unionist, and as a project manager in charge of expansion of offshore drilling platforms, among many other projects. During this period, he protested the rampant corruption and bribery he witnessed consuming millions of dollars of the peoples’ money. As a result of Ezzat’s final protest against corruption in the workplace, the executive manager of the company, a close friend of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was arrested; however, he was quickly, unofficially released. As a result of being an anti-corruption whistleblower, Ezzat was threatened and it became clear that his life was in danger. He immediately went into hiding, then requested a visa for Sweden. With the help of colleagues, he managed to “legally” get out of Iran.
Ezzat’s incontrovertible right to asylum under international law
Ezzat Dolatabadi is a known labour and union activist. A labour activist in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where they execute the labour movement’s poets; arrest and torture union leaders; sentence them to heavy jail sentences for simply organizing May 1st celebrations; harass and terrorize labour celebrities for being loved by the masses; and intimidate and threaten union leaders, including Mansour Osanloo, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarahi Sharif Saaed, Mozafar Salehnya, Shith Amani, Sedigh Karimi, Ali Nejati, Reza Shahabi, and Behnaam Ebrahimzadeh, among countless others.
Furthermore, Ezzat’s activities against the Islamic regime in Iran, as well as activities with regard to the labour movement in Sweden, not only continue to the present moment, but thanks to the relative respect for political liberties in Sweden, have intensified. Ezzat is a host of a well-known and respected Farsi-language radio in Sweden with a weekly program, and has had a distinguished role in organizing many events against the Islamic regime.
As we strongly believe that the Swedish government’s Migration Office is well aware of the general situation in Iran regarding the fundamental constitutional and systematic violations of human rights– the violation of whatever is humane –denying Ezzat his right to asylum and security can only represent a shameless attempt by the Swedish government to pursue its inhumane right-wing policy against Iranian political asylum seekers and against fundamental human rights. It serves as an indirect legitimization of the Islamic regime’s suppression of the Iranian working class and persecution of labour activists. It is also illegal under international, EU, and Swedish law.
We do not accept this and will take all legal and political actions in defence of Ezzat Dolatabadi’s undeniable right to asylum and security. Ezzat has a right to stay in Sweden, and in Sweden he will remain.
(1) Members of the UN have a legal responsibility under international law in such cases as genocide (see: Robertson G. 2011. The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran, 1988, Report Of An Inquiry. http://www.iranrights.org/english/attachments/doc_3518.pdf).
(2) The Swedish government has violated not only the rights of Iranian asylum-seekers but others as well. It has deported Syrian political activists into the Butcher’s arms in the midst of the ongoing brutal military suppression of a democratic revolution in Syria. It has deported women’s rights activists to Congo, and lesbian couples to Iraq, among numerous other egregious and flagrant violations of international asylum law.
(3) Prior to the all-out organized and systematic attacks on labour unions, the only remaining achievement of the 1979 revolution, the thugs of the regime, some times in official Pasdar and police uniform and sometimes in plainclothes, targeted the leaders and the celebrities of the Iranian working class. Tens of these were assassinated, executed, or even abducted and brutally killed to “teach a lesson.” Jahangyr Ghaleh-Miandoab, a much beloved communist worker, was abducted on Friday, 6 January 1981, during a large protest action which was attacked by the uniformed Islamic thugs. His body was delivered to his family with a bullet in the mouth and one in the eye. This became a turning point for the independent unions and other workers’ organizations. During 1981, unions were literally attacked by security forces accompanied by the plainclothes thugs; activists were beaten, arrested, jailed, and executed; and their buildings and belongings were confiscated. Ezzat, also a professional labour activist was detained.