Human Rights,  International,  Iran

No Empathy at the Embassy

An Iranian dissident who has spent five years going through the UK’s shambolic asylum system decided that he couldn’t take it any longer and should try his luck with the US Embassy in London. He says:

‘You know I have been waiting for my asylum application for the last five years. The unreasonable reasons why the Home Office rejected my first application and how my lawyer messed up lodging my appeal in time and failed to submit all the evidence I had given him. Not having a status and being a non-entity for all these years was eating me up. They say one’s twenties are the best years of one’s life. For me it has been a living hell. I made a rash decision and decided to go along to the US embassy, I thought they would be more sympathetic if I applied for a visa there. After all, my brother is in US and I thought because of his high profile, they would know about him. I explained to the visa officer that I had been active against the Iranian regime before I fled Iran and that I have been active here in the UK too, but it all seemed to go in one ear and come out of the other, he just asked me what my legal status in UK was and I told him. Next he told me to wait while he sorted out some paper work. For a moment I thought this was the end of my hell. When he came back, they escorted me to a certain exit, and outside, the UK authorities were waiting for me and handcuffed me as they identified me with the photo they had.’

The whole story is related on Azarmehr’s blog.Azarmehr reminds us of George W Bush’s 2005 State of the Union address in which he said:

“And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you. The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

“What bullshit,” says Azarmehr, not without justification.It seems to me that we have a duty to support and to give shelter to dissidents from oppressive regimes. If military intervention in support of democracy is sometimes morally justified, then surely it should be uncontroversial that a robust and fair asylum system should take pride of place in liberal, democratic, and free countries?It makes the blood boil that asylum seekers spend years in limbo, and then – when driven by desperation, they try to go elsewhere to find sanctuary – they are betrayed in such a disgraceful way.

David T adds: Arash was released late last night. I meant to blog this – but Brett beat me to it.