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Can we send this man back to die in Iran?

This is a guest post by Melvyn Kohn

Robert Fisk reports today on the hanging chads in Iran. The police, he noted, first smash the opposition supporters in the face, then reinforce their message by smashing them in the genitals. He is not alone in such observations. Sunday’s papers are awash in bloody images of the ‘democracy in action’ in the land of the Ayatollahs. I had a copy of the IoS with me this morning when I visited the young Iranian convert who the HO tried to deport last week. I kept it from his view. He has enough on his mind without being shown graphic images of what may lie in store for him. These same police have issued a writ for him to turn himself in; for the ‘crime’ of converting to Christianity.

Last week, when he was put on the plane at Heathrow, the pilot refused to take him, and the HO took him back to his cell at Harmondsworth, once called ‘Britain’s Equivalent to Guantanamo Bay.’ And not long after he had settled in was he told they had rescheduled his removal – BMI flight BD 931, departing from Heathrow at 1900 hours on Thursday, 18 June.

One suspects that this time there will be more security guards with him, to prevent him from handing the crew any note explaining why he ought not to be sent back. The last time around, they were so mad at him that they broke his boot when they searched it, and he faces the prospect of being sent back barefoot. Fellow passengers just might wonder why there is a very quiet, but very nervous young man, sitting barefoot among them; and who the big guys in the dark glasses are sitting beside him. Nothing to see here folks. And so this may be the end of the story, and we may never know his fate –  even Robert Fisk will not have details. Just another case closed for the HO who can now tell us what a good job they are doing.

But it does not have to end like this. His MP, Brian Iddon, is working on the case – it might be noted that when he tried to look at it early last week, the HO did not seem to know the man’s address. Iddon has in the past worked very hard for others in similar situations. And for what it’s worth, the Shadow Home Secretaries have been contacted – Chris Grayling and Chris Huhne. From the HO itself, there is silence save for the slight communication to Iddon, which was not helpful. So we still have a chance to save a life, but only if there is crucial and effective response – and I might add that the response from this site has been excellent. Someone is working on contacting Rowan Williams, others are calling MPs, and yet more are contacting the press. One major paper has been interested, but may only do the story if they can publish his name – which the young man is understandably against.

We race against time again. For those wishing to work on this for another stay of execution, feel free to contact me at or on 07816 214 197. Can we work together to save a life?