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Iranian Gay Refugee Risks Deportation From The UK

Iranian gay refugee risks deportation from the United Kingdom

The flight that will take young Medhi Kazemi from Amsterdam to London, from where he will be deported to Iran, is booked for tuesday february 26th. Everyone Group is appealing to the European Union to overrule the British government's decision, and grant the 19-year-old political asylum. Mehdi has recently become a regular member of Everyone. Group Medhi is wanted in Iran after his partner - executed for his homosexuality in april 2006 - admitted they were in a relationship.

His full name is Seyed Medhi Kazemi, he is not yet twenty, and he is one of the members of EveryOne. Medhi is an Iranian homosexual who in November 2005 left Teheran to go and study in London. He was forced to apply for asylum to the British Home Office after the discovery, by the Iranian authorities of his homosexual relationship with another boy, who had already been sentenced to death and executed in April 2006.

Parham, his partner since the age of 15, was arrested by the Teheran police and accused of "lavat" (sodomy) after being caught by the Iranian authorities in the company of another boy while Medhi was attending college in England. During the interrogation in jail, Parham was forced by his accusers to reveal the names of all the men he had had relationships with, among them Medhi himself. The Iranian Police had already turned up at Medhi's father's home in Teheran with an arrest warrant for his son, with the intention of sending him to trial.

A few months ago his application for asylum was turned down by the British Home Office: Medhi will have to be repatriated to his country of origin because according to the British Government, he does not run any risk there. Medhi therefore fled in secret from England, intending to take refuge in Canada, but he was blocked by the German border police. After hearing his story, he was sent to Holland (a country known for granting refugee status to Iranian homosexuals) and again handed over to the police. However, the United Kingdom has now sent a formal request to Holland asking for Medhi's return to Britain - according to the Treaty of Dublin, and according to regulation CE 343/2003, in order to proceed with his deportation to Iran.

Omar Kuddus, from the Gay Asylum UK association, tells EveryOne Group that he received a phone call from Medhi, on February 18th, informing him that the flight that is to take him back to Britain has been arranged for Tuesday February 26th: it will leave at 8 a.m. (Dutch time) from the Amsterdam Airport of Schiphol, and arrive at Heathrow, London at about 8.30 a.m. (British time)

"We are asking the European Union to adopt a tough stance and overrule the decision taken by Gordon Brown's Government, say the leaders of EveryOne, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, who have taken up the case. "The United Kingdom is continuing undaunted to violate the international conventions on human rights and the rights of refugees, as well as the European directives and laws which determine the requests for political asylum: they did it with the Iranian lesbian Pegah Emambakhsh, when they refused her refugee status, claiming she was unable to prove her homosexuality; they did it a month ago when they deported Ama Sumani back to Ghana. Ama is terminally ill with cancer, she had desperately asked to be treated in England seeing it would be impossible back in her country of origin."

Everyone Group is making an official appeal to the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, to put an immediate stop to the boy's deportation and ensure he is immediately recognised refugee status. Only last January 31st the European Commission took a stance stating "Member States cannot expel or refuse refugee status to homosexual persons without taking into account their sexual preferences, the information relevant to the situation in their country of origin, including the laws and ways in which they are applied".

"It is time the European Commission's ruling became reality", say the representatives of EveryOne. "We invite civil society to express its indignation towards the actions of the British Government, aimed at undermining the values of freedom and dignity of the individual".

Seyed Medhi Kazemi was born in Tehran and is not yet 20. On September 15th, 2005 he set off for the United Kingdom after applying for a student visa. At first he lived with his uncle in London and attended an English course. In November 2005 he moved to Brighton where he enrolled at the Embassy CES College of Hove. He renewed his student visa to November 2006, with the intention of returning to his family in Iran once the course was over. Medhi loved a boy back in Iran called Parham, with whom he had shared a secret relationship since the age of 15. Medhi and Parham regularly wrote to each other via e-mail until December 2005, when Parham suddenly stopped writing. In late March 2006, Medhi's uncle informed him that his father had found out about his homosexuality and his relationship with Parham: the boy had been arrested by the Iranian authorities after being caught with a peer and accused of "lavat" (sodomy). During the interrogation he was forced to give the names of all the boys he had had relations with, including Medhi himself. Medhi's father had then received a visit from the Tehran Police, with an arrest warrant for his son as they wanted to put him on trial. In late April, Medhi's uncle told him Parham had been put to death. At this point, Medhi decided to apply to the British Home Office for refugee status, as a similar fate awaited him back in Iran: a death sentence for lavat, and maybe even mohareb, followed by hanging in an Iranian prison (seeing executions are no longer being carried out in public places after the decree signed by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hasemi on January 30th, 2008). His application for asylum, however, was turned down by the Home Secretary. Medhi, terrified at the idea of being deported back to Iran - where a death sentence awaits him - attempted to flee to Canada, but he was stopped by the German border police. After telling them his story, he was sent to Holland (a country known for granting refugee status to Iranian homosexuals) and handed over to police custody. However, the United Kingdom then sent an official request to Holland, according to the Treaty of Dublin, asking for Medhi's return, in order to proceed with his deportation to Iran. On February 13th, 2008, Medhi informed his uncle of his whereabouts, he was being held in Venlo police station in Holland and had been told he was soon to be transferred to Rotterdam. Medhi's uncle says he last heard from his nephew on February 15th. Medhi was in the detention centre at Rotterdam Airport, and according to the boy, no one had told him what his fate would be, nor when he was to be returned to Britain.

Omar Kuddus, from the Gay Asylum UK association, tells EveryOne Group that he received a phone call from Medhi, on February 18th, informing him that the flight that is to take him back to Britain has been arranged for Tuesday February 26th: it will leave at 8 a.m. (Dutch time) from the Amsterdam Airport of Schiphol, and arrive at Heathrow, London at about 8.30 a.m. (British time).

Medhi is at present in a precarious state of heath and suffering from deep depression. Several days ago he started a hunger strike.

This is the testimony Medhi sent through an e-mail. It was later made public on the Iranian Queer Organization website:

I am an Iranian national, was born in Tehran. I am Shia Muslim. I have one sister. I have lived all my life with my parents and sister until I came to the UK on 15.09.2005. My father owns dried fruits shop in Iran and sometimes he exports and imports goods.

I attended school, in Tehran for five 12 years. When I finished my secondary school I started my high school called Bagher Al Olom. I was 17 years old that I should study in the UK. He made all arrangements for me to come to the UK to study. I was granted six months student visa until March 2006. In February 2006, I decided to continue my studies and extended my student visa until November 2006.

When I arrived in the UK I began my English course at Leicester Square School of English in London. For the first two months I lived with my uncle in London. I then moved to Brighton and in November 2005, and joined Embassy CES College in Hove. I extended my student visa until November 2006 as I wanted to continue my studies in the UK.

When I was in Iran I did not have any problems. However, I used to have a male partner whom I used to meet secretly. I was 15 years old when I started dating one of my class mates in school. His name was Parham. He was also Iranian and we used to spend a lot of time together. I had just turned 15 years of age when I found out that I was sexually attracted men. I was very scared of this feeling and did not tell anyone about it. Parham was my best friend and one day he told me that he was attracted towards men and not women. When he told me that I started feeling comfortable with him and decided to tell him that I felt the same, we were 15 years of age when we decided to start our relationship.

We used to meet everyday in school and sometimes out side school in cinema or park. We started having sex about eight months after dating each other. We used to meet either in his house or my house when there was no one around.

No one knew about our relationship. Everyone believed that we were best friends and nothing more than that. Very rarely he used to come to our house. My parents knew him as I used to spend a lot of time with him.

We were very scared of our relationship. But I had strong feeling towards him and could not stop meeting him. We had decided to keep our relationship a secret. We continued our relationship as I knew that if any one from the government had found out about our relationship we would be executed.

When my father decided that I must study in the UK, I was sad that I was leaving Parham behind in Iran. But I knew that I could return to Iran during my college holiday and after I have completed my studies in the UK. The thought of returning to Iran gave me the courage to leave Parham behind.

When I came to the UK, I was in touch with him via email. We used to email each other almost once a week. He used to tell me that the situation in Iran is getting worse and there is more restriction on people and we used to write about general issues. We missed each other a lot and I wanted to return Iran at the end of my studies.

Around December 2005, Parham stopped emailing me. I wrote about two three emails to him but he did not reply. I thought that this was maybe because he was outside Tehran or did not have access to internet.

Towards the end March 2006, my uncle in the UK called me and informed me that my father had called me and informed him about my male partner in Iran. He further informed me that Parham was arrested by the authorities in Iran and he had mentioned my name to the government of Iran. The authorities had been to my father's house looking for me and my father was very shocked and scared about the whole situation. My uncle is an opened minded man and has lived in the UK most of his life and was not angry with him about this issue as I had expected him to be. However, he informed me that my father was very angry with me and had informed my uncle that I must return to Iran as he wanted to beat me up.

I was very scared and my uncle advised me that I must not return because I am in trouble with my father and the authorities. He told me that I will try to find a way for me to stay in the UK as my life would be in danger if I had return to Iran. He told me that I must wait for his call.

Later that day my father called me and was very angry with me. He shouted at me on the phone and told me to return Iran as soon as possible. I did not say anything to him and just hang up the phone as I was very scared of him.

I continued my studies but had a lot of tension in my mind. I was thinking about Parham. I was very sad and scared for my life. I waited for my uncle to figure out a way to save my life as I knew that if I return to Iran I will be killed.

A week later my uncle called me and asked me to explain the whole situation to him. He told me that I would not be able to help if I don't tell him full and true story. I decided to tell him everything. We discussed that whole issue and I told him that I was very sacred of my father and the government of Iran. My uncle told me that he will get more information from Iran and will keep me informed.

Around end of April 2006, my uncle called me again and informed me that my father had informed him that the authorities had executed Parham and that I must not return to Iran as the authorities would do the same to me. My uncle told me that this time my father was very scared and had specifically advised my uncle that must not return to Iran.

I asked my uncle how the authorities found out that Parham's homosexual. My uncle told me that he was caught with another guy and was arrested. He was interrogated and asked to tell the authorities about all the men that he relationship with and he had mentioned my name to the authorities. The authorities had informed my father of the whole issue and that I was also in relationship with Parham. At first my father was angry and wanted me to return home but the last time he called my uncle after Parham's execution, he feared for my life and strongly advised that I must not return to Iran.

Parham was charged with crime being homosexual and was executed. Iran is an Islamic country and it is a serious offence to be in a relationship with a person of the same sex.

I wish to inform secretary of state that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me. I can not stop my attraction towards men. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I was born like with feeling and can not change this fact but it is unfortunate that I can not express my feeling in Iran. If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like Parham.

Source: EveryOne Group

ENDS

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