Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Save Mehdi Kazemi

Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian asylum seeker, has just been refused asylum in the Netherlands. He will be sent back to the UK within 72 hours.

The UK authorities had already turned down his request for asylum on the basis of sexual orientation, despite the fact that his partner was executed for the same said 'crime'.

The Home Office claims a gay person can return to Iran and avoid persecution by being "discreet". As Simon Hughes has noted, what that means in practice is denying your identity: an infringement, in and of itself, of a basic human right.

In any case, it's a bit late for a man whose sexual orientation has made him a cause celebre. I can't imagine he would outfox Iranian intelligence for that long. If he ever made it past passport control his dad would probably kill him, if the Vice Squad didn't get him first. After all, he has already threatened to do so.

A lot of rot, frankly, is talked about European Values like Human Rights in Europe and our governments are guilty of the most flagrant disregards for the ECHR.

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human rights, as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights and international human rights law, prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Furthermore, EU law recognises sexual orientation as a ground for Member States to grant asylum.

As such, given the Iranian regime has a well-known penchant for executing homosexuals, it beggars belief that we can stand aside and watch this happen.

If you want to pressurise the powers that be to take their Human Rights obligations seriously please write to Gordon Brown and Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini demanding they ensure Medhi Kazemi be granted asylum or international protection on EU soil, instead of being sent back to Iran, thus ensuring that article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected.

The UK migration policy is such a mess that convicted criminals are 'lost in the system' and left to run free, but legitimate claimants, like this man, are essentially thrown to the wolves. Time for a change...

You can reach them, by email or snail mail:

Gordon Brown
10 Downing Street

Vice President Franco Frattini
+ 32 (0)2 298 75 00

email or franco.frattini@ec.europa.eu


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links and post. I'm in the US and I'd like to do more to help out. I've e-mailed Senators Obama and Clinton, but who knows what that will do.

Caron said...

This is such an awful story, but unfortunately typical of today's Home Office. However I have seen several cases where public pressure has turned things, so I would suggest that as many people as possible write to the authorities.

The salient point to remember is that he would never have had to go to the Netherlands in the first place if the Home Office had been tolerant. To a certain extent the Netherlands' hands were tied because of the Treaty of Dublin. They are much more enlightened and have accepted that gay or lesbian Iranians should not be sent back.

Maybe it's time to suggest that gay or lesbian Iranians don't come to the UK, which is not as it should be at all.

Paul Canning said...


many thanks for covering this. You can find more about the Urgent appeal for Mehdi Kazem here > http://paulcanning.blogspot.com/2008/03/urgent-appeal-mehdi-kazemi-please-help.html

and updates about the case here > http://paulcanning.blogspot.com/2008/02/update-iranian-gay-deportee-mehdi.html


Paul Canning

Anonymous said...

If the Home office, when they refused asylum accepted that Mehdi Kazemi was gay, then he just needs a good legal representative. Whilst the HO may refuse certain nationalities on these grounds, I don't think Iran is one of them.

If they stated that it would be all right for him to return to Iran as long as he was discrete about his sexuality, then I believe there may have been a mistake by the caseworker dealing with the case, applying a stock refusal reason to an inappropriate nationality. It also means that the Home Office have accepted that he is gay and that is the key. If Mr Mehdi has exhausted all his appeal options in the UK, then leave to move for a judicial review should be sought a.s.a.p. A court injunction will be needed to stop the removal if it's imminent.

Sometimes publicising a case makes the Home Office dig their heals in. What is crucial is the best legal representation he can get.

arman said...

Hi every body,I am an Irainan gay.I want to urge you in UK and rest of the world to use your freedom to put pressure on UK GOVERNMENT TO GIVE UP HIS PARTICIPATION IN THIS WILD MURDER.
Also I want to urge all heteros,human right defenders and all people who value humanity to act against this murder.

Anonymous said...

A Dutch MP has asked the responsible Dutch minister to contact the British authorities to assure Kazem won't be deported to Iran. As far as I know she hasn't responded yet to this request. It seems most likely that any action from over here will behind the scenes.

Consider This said...

thanks for all your comments. It does seem bizarre that the Home Office regulations on being gay and Iranian are so lax considering the authorities are ACTIVELY clamping down on homosexuality, as opposed to tolerating it silently. Let's hope that action by our elected represenatives and concerned members of the public can get this sorted. As for him getting a good lawyer, I believe asylum seekers are simply 'assigned' one?? Especially if they have few or no funds at their disposal?

Anonymous said...

If the Dutch are not going to send him back to the UK without an assurance from the Home Sec that he won't be retuned to Iran, then he'll be OK, all be it that he is safe in The Nethrlands rather than in the UK. I really think that a mistake has been made by the Home Office that on the one hand they accept he is gay but on the other say it is safe for him to go back to Iran. Unless they just dreamt up this 'it's safe in Iran for gay people' policy in the last few days.
I don't know whether he would ne entitled to legal aid in the UK. I think he would be and he has the right to have any legal rep who takes legal aid cases. He doesn't need to use one that is 'assigned' to him.

Peter said...

Given the publicity in this case, I think it's unlikely he'll be removed to Iran. Making national headlines is hardly being "discreet" about his sexuality.

For a low-profile asylum seeker fleeing persecution because of sexuality, the standard Home Office line is
1) We don't believe you're gay
2) Even if it's accepted you're gay, we don't believe you've come to the attention of the authorities
3) If you are gay, the evidence is that there are parks in Tehran where men can solicit transvestites without the authorities intervening. You can go to such parks to express your sexuality, or conduct your sexual affairs with discretion. (this really appears in refusal letters - homosexuality is reduced to a quick fumble behind a bush with a tranny)

If they're lucky, they won't get an Immigration Judge for the appeal whose views on homosexuality wouldn't be out of place in Iran. Although there are many good judges, there are too many reactionary sorts who will cunningly disbelieve somebody and wouldn't be too fussed about a gay person being sent back to be executed.

Jet said...

Please visit http://www.madhikazemi.com/ and
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/UKMADHI/signatures.html as well.

Mehdi is not completely safe yet and we need all your votes!

Thnx in advance,