Two new events have been organised as part of a campaign to defend Iranian asylum seekers in the UK and prevent their deportation to a country they deem unsafe.
As part of the ‘Life Without Fear’ campaign launched in January, the UK branch of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) is organising a public meeting on the evening of 21 March 2006 to explore the right to asylum in relation to people who have fled the Islamic Republic of Iran. (See ‘Life Without Fear’ campaign: public meeting) A week later, between 27 and 29 March, the group plans to protest in London to demonstrate its opposition to the UK government’s policy of detention and deportation of Iranian asylum seekers.
Home Office statistics  reveal that Iranians currently represent the largest group of asylum seekers in the UK, with 820 of the 6,165 applicants in the last quarter of 2005 having fled Iran (up from 750 in the third quarter of 2005). Of a total 700 initial decisions made in relation to Iranians during this period, 595 people were refused asylum, and ‘returns’ to Iran in the last quarter of 2005 numbered 145 out of a total of 3,525.
Despairing Iranians who have had their asylum claims refused have, on many occasions, resorted to hunger strikes and even suicide due to a fear of being deported. Such action has been documented widely. (See, for example, IRR News stories Another asylum seeker takes own life, Inquest finds asylum refusal was motive for gay Iranian’s suicide and Asylum seeker suicide: ‘depressed and preoccupied’)
Imprisonment, torture, execution
IFIR’s secretary in the UK, Siamak Amjadi, told IRR News that ‘many asylum seekers flee Iran because of the situation there, but the Home Office just does not believe them. They are in an uncertain situation, but they cannot and do not want to go back. By denying asylum seekers the right to a just process and sending them back, the Home Office is putting their lives in danger’.
In the campaign literature, Siamak Amjadi mentions the threat of imprisonment, torture and execution for people seen to be out of line with the ruling regime in Iran, such as political opponents, homosexuals and labour activists. A statement released on 24 January asserts that ‘to flee such conditions is the basic right of people, and many have already done so and continue to do so’ and that the UK government is ‘in clear breach of its obligations under international conventions on the rights of persons fleeing persecution’.
Against detention and deportation
In reaction to the British government’s policy of detaining and deporting thousands of Iranian asylum seekers ‘back to their persecutors’, IFIR’s aims are threefold:
- That no Iranian asylum seeker be deported to Iran, which is deemed unsafe;
- That there be an immediate stop to all detentions of Iranian asylum seekers and that those currently detained whilst seeking asylum be freed;
- That the British government change its policy towards asylum seekers and grant them refuge.