Your View

A plea to halt the deportation of an Iranian Christian

This is a guest post by Melyvn Kohn

On Tuesday, 9 June, a plane will depart for Teheran. The UK government intends to send on this flight a young man who has recently claimed asylum. He entered the UK on a valid visa, has not broken the law, and has never worked illegally or taken benefits. His case is urgent and deserving. My weekend has been spent dealing with this crisis.

Among his proofs, two pieces in particular sent chills down my spine. They were writs from the “Ministry of Justice, Islamic Republic or Iran.” Sent to his parents’ home in Iran, then faxed on to Britain, the official Home Office translation reads as follows:

Respectfully, Excellency, in some verbal meeting with me, you have declared that I proceed to Christianity and turn away from Islam and you have deluded me then after divulgement between family members and being under pressure from local reliable persons and local mosque, consequently I have been persecuted by the Police and Justice Authority.

Therefore I give you one week notice from the date of this declaration letter to write your motivation and the reason of your decision to accept Christianity down in the next space provided, in order to take legal action against you by the Police and Justice authority.

The second tranlsation reads:

Please order the named person according to the rules, the communication and the copy of the communication with the date witnessed and certifying by the duty officer shall be return to this branch.

What sends chills is not only the siginficance of this, which I can determine given the background, but the poor quality of the translation. I expected it to be signed by Ali G; indeed, Borat could have done a better job for make benefit of Glorious Home Office intent on sending back refugee to face kangaroo court in Glorious Nation of Iran. It would be a laughing matter if what was lost in translation was not someone’s life.

In plain English the writ is accusing the asylum seeker of being a Christian. Which, whatever one’s view of that lot, is not a crime. At least not in Britain; but in Iran, it is a different story. So this is not to be taken lightly. Similar writs were issued to people in the 1940s asking them to come in and discuss their actions with the police in Germany; they were then taken away.

So what is going to happen here? Will he be sent back like Adam Osman Mohammed, who claimed he would be killed if sent back to Darfur, was ignored, was sent back, and was killed? Or Nsimba Kumbi, who was deported to the Congo on 13 March, along with Rabin Waba Muambi, both of whom were tortured? Or the many Iraqi asylum seekers who have been killed and maimed recently upon repatriation?

If left to the Home Office, which cannot even be trusted to translate the evidence into proper English, the Iranian will end up sharing their fate. His flight is set for 1900 hours on Tuesday. If intervention does not take place, he will be handed over to a state well noted for its human rights abuses. What can we do?

A lot actually, as this is a democracy, and we have employees who work for us. They are called MPs and ministers. It is therefore up to us to stop this deportation, by calling the Home Office and asking for the Immigration Minister and/or the new Home Secretary, Alan Johnson.

I refrain from giving out the name of the person for obvious reasons, but his HO reference # is E1084499, and the individual is detained at Harmondsworth. That information will enable them to do their job.