Dr. Arash Irandoost is the
founder of Pro Democracy Movement of Iran (PDMI) which focuses
on human rights and pro-democracy initiatives. He is an
Iranian-American activist, who works to inform and educate about
the threats posed by Islamic Republic and radical Islam. He
believes that Islamic Republic cannot be reformed and regime
change is the only viable option. Dr. Irandoost is a researcher,
a literary translator, an essayist, and a political analyst. He
writes regularly for online publications such as New Media
Journal, The American Thinker, Faith Freedom International, Free
Republic, Israel National News, Right Side News, Global
Politician and the Iranian Online magazines. The pen name Arash
Irandoost is used due to his concerns for personal safety. He
maintains a website
Refugees: A Human Rights Disaster
Republic of Iran’s Smoke & Mirrors
Shades of Iran’s Green Movement
Nation’s Deadly Silence on Iran
No Room for
Public in the Islamic Republic
Without the Islamic Republic...Imagine!
Iranian Refugees: A Human Rights Disaster
July 14, 2010
This article was written in collaboration with Walton K
Martin & Gill Gillespie, PhD
Light snow was falling when the two young men set out on horseback for the
border to flee Iran. By the time they were deep in the mountains, it had become
a blinding blizzard, the temperature had dropped below freezing, and they were
According to UNHCR, Iranian refugees comprise 19% of the
total registered refugee population in Turkey. Since the Islamic Revolution in
1979, the passage of Penal Law in 2008 authorizing death penalty for apostasy
and especially after June 2009 fraudulent election, Iranians have been seeking
refuge in foreign countries in large numbers. UNHCR Global Trends Report paints
a dire picture for the year 2010. The number of refugees and asylum seekers
worldwide has risen to over 43 million. In Turkey,
lists a total 10,350 refugees and 5,987 asylum seekers for 2009. It is expected
that the number of registered Iranian refugees will more than double between
2010 to 2011, from 2,230 to 5,550 respectively. It is estimated that there are
unregistered Iranian refugees
Iranian refugees have often
escaped a violence and persecution. They have lost everything, their homes and
families. They have no chance to work or send their children to school or live a
meaningful life. They yearn to live in peace, yet only a small number of
refugees obtain refugee status; others are living in desperate conditions
waiting for the UNCHR to process their cases.
Documents have surfaced that clearly show
gave direct orders to deal harshly with demonstrators. They were shot at,
arrested, tortured, raped and executed. Many have fled Iran in fear of arrest,
imprisonment and execution since the regime has labeled them as traitors,
working with foreign governments, to overthrow the regime.
After June 12, 2009 election, the regime launched a series of
operations to identify and track down those who participated in demonstrations.
Worried that stories of torture, rape and harassment might reach a wider
the regime has positioned thousands
of plain-clothed intelligence officers throughout Turkey and neighboring
countries to actively track, attack and intimidate Iranian refugees. Those who
manage to avoid detection live in destitution, fearful and in miserable
Turkey has emerged as the main country for
since it does not require visas from Iranian citizens. Arriving in Turkey,
Iranians file their asylum petitions directly with the Turkish authorities, or
sign up through the UNHCR. Since Iranian asylum-seekers cannot earn refugee
status in Turkey due to the 1951 Geneva Convention on
the Status of Refugees, they are resettled in other countries.
For a variety of reasons, it takes UNHCR between one to three years to process
refugee applications but for some refugees the waiting period is much longer.
While in Turkey where job opportunities are rare and financial resources are
limited, refugees usually encounter public hostility. Many refugees who suffer
from torture and gun shots wounds find it extremely difficult to gain access to
medical treatment. The situation is more acute for children of refugees (they
are not allowed to enroll in school), homosexuals (they are perceived to be
moral degenerates), and apostates (they have committed a grave sin by leaving
Islam). Additionally, Turkish laws require that all refugees to pay a $227
"stay” fee (ikamat) every six months, plus a $93 document processing and
Many asylum seekers whose petitions are declined or those who
are caught before they file a petition and cannot meet the legal requirements
for staying in Turkey are
sent back to Iran.
It is estimated that between 1993 and 1998, more than 2,000 Iranian asylum
seekers were sent back, many of them were arrested, tortured, sentenced or
executed in Iran. Reliable statistics are not readily available for those who
are arrested and sent back since June elections, but indications are that the
numbers are significant.
who claims she was raped by Iranian authorities while in detention, was attacked
in Kayseri, Turkey two days after she repeated rape allegations in an interview
with the BBC. She believes the attack was carried out by Iranian authorities to
intimidate her into silence. Some refugees believe the Iranian authorities have
put them under surveillance in an effort to silence them about rape and torture
allegations. Some say their families in Iran have also been targeted. Still,
law enforcement authorities
continue to claim that Iranians refugees are protected and safe.
Iranian refugees in other neighboring countries face similar desperate
conditions in the absence of adequate protection and unexplained delays by the
UNHCR in processing their cases. Officials at the UNHCR require applicants to
"prove endangerment of life” as a condition for obtaining refugee status. But
many refugees are not able to provide such documentation since they had to flee
Iran often in a hurry to avoid arrest by regime Basij force and secret service.
Often the regime has confiscated these documents, or they have been lost or
stolen during the perilous journey from Iran to Turkey or elsewhere.
Iranians are considered some of most pro west population in the Middle East.
Much to the Islamic Republic’s dismay, ordinary Iranians were the first to hold
candle light vigils to mourn the loss of life in the United Sates after
hijackers crashed airlines into the World Trade Center, while in contrast
Palestinians celebrated and danced in the streets.
But for some unexplained reason, the world does not seem to condemn blatant
human rights violations committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. When the UN
elected Iran to the Commission on Women’s Rights, not a single word was heard
from our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or the US Ambassador to the UN,
Susan Rice. When pictures and videos of brutal crackdown, torture and killings
of young demonstrators were all over the Internet, the news media remained
largely silent. To this day, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has refused to
strongly condemn the Iranian Regime’s blatant violation of just about every
article in the UN Convention of Human Rights, despite being a member nation and
signatory to it. Ironically, when nine knife-carrying supposedly Palestinian
human rights activists were killed by Israeli police, it sparked an
international outcry and condemnation. Such duplicity is inexcusable and
unconscionable and sends the message that Palestinian lives are valued more than
those of Iranians or Israelis.
Perhaps Iranians are resented for a group of extremists having taken over the US
embassy in Iran and taking Americans hostage for 444 days in 1979. They might
mistakenly believe that because the media fills TV screens with pictures of anti
American demonstrators shouting death to America and burning the American flag,
these are representative of Iranians. Yet, the fact remains that Iran is a
country of 75 million people, and all hate rallies are orchestrated by the
Iranian Regime who force government employees and paid Basijis to attend.
Meanwhile, in Turkey and other receiving countries, callous disregard of their
basic human rights causes refugees to lose their dignity. People around the
world should demand that refugees be treated with dignity and respect. World
communities and their Governments can no longer afford to remain indifferent
while this tragedy is unfolding. They must:
Expel the Iranian Regime from the UN
Regardless of UNHRC and Turkish authorities disputing the veracity and accuracy
of refugees’ claims, worldwide organizations like the UN and international
Governments have a moral imperative to demand accountability from the regime for
their human rights abuses. The first step has to be to expel this rogue Iranian
Regime and known state sponsor of terrorism from the UN.
Bring the Iranian Regime Criminals to Justice
IRI lobbyists are given free access to the world
media to sugarcoat the Islamic Republic’s medieval practices of stoning and
hanging men, women and children. This regime has been getting away with murder,
rape and torture since they came into power in 1979. Afraid of criticizing the
regime for its violations because of their lucrative contracts with it, world
leaders have acted irresponsibly and have been unwilling to utilize
international criminal laws to bring them to justice. They must now do this.
Involvement of Faith-based Organization is Crucial
Religious organizations and leaders must bear some of the responsibility for
what has been happening in Iran. Taking advantage of the regime’s atrocities,
they have been actively engaged in converting young and disillusioned Iranians
to Christianity, fully aware of dangers that lie ahead for such apostates since
the passage of the Penal Law in 2008, which began to authorize the death penalty
for apostasy (conversion from Islam to Christianity). These converts have been
harassed, kidnapped, raped and
stabbed to death
by the Iranian Regime, yet Christian communities continue to remain silent and
have failed to provide adequate guidance and protection for their converts. It
is now time for them to speak out and provide support.
Israel Should Do More
Israel has the most to gain from an Iranian regime change. Iranians and Israelis
have common historical and cultural ties reaching back 2,500 years.
Unfortunately, Israel has lost a golden opportunity to offer aid to Iranian
opposition and refugees wishing to seek asylum in Israel. For the past 31
years, the Iranian Regime has brainwashed young Iranians against Israel.
Instead, positive relationships between Iranians and Israelis need to be
cultivated during times of crisis. For cultural and humanitarian reasons, it
would greatly benefit all parties involved if Iranian asylum seekers were
allowed to settle in Israel.
World Communities and Their Government Need to Assist
As the UNHCR is incapable of properly handling the influx of Iranian refugees,
more active participation and support from world communities and their
governments is needed to alleviate this refugee crisis.
The Iranian Diaspora, Organizations & NGO’s Must Provide
There are close to five million successful Iranians living in various parts of
the world and numerous Iranian human rights organizations are already in
existence. They can each start to sponsor a refugee of their choice by offering
employment, legal, technical, financial and medical support and advice. Iranian
refugees are in desperate need of food, shelter and medical attention.
To conclude, refugees are
people. People who did not want to become refugees but were forced from their
home land, fleeing from arrest, rape, torture and death. These people deserve to
go on with their lives, not be held in limbo in excess of one to three years
while life passes them and their families by. The lengthy delay in assisting
these refugees’ applications is causing severe depression in people already
persecuted before they fled. The longer they stay in transition states like
Turkey the more danger they continue to be in. Agents from the Iranian Regime
continue to threaten them from what is an open border between Iran and Turkey.
In effect, they have moved from one prison to another. The delays that refugees
are subjected to also put a financial burden on the taxpayers in every nation
through which the refugees move. With faster and more effective assistance, they
could again become productive members of society, as well as saving millions to
all countries involved.