About Iranian Refugees Action Network

We are a registered charity based in the UK and the USA which assists Iranian and other refugees worldwide. We aim to provide legal, medical and other types of assistance for men, women and children who have fled Iran and other Middle Eastern countries and who need support in applying and resettling in a country that is safe. Please contact us if you need help, or know others who do.

The Distorted Media Coverage of Press TV against Ahwazi activists: Written by: Rahim Hamid

Iranian Refugees would like to draw your attention to this post, by Journalist Rahim Hamid.  The Iran regime are increasingly persecuting Ahwazi people and here, in Rahim’s words, is what is happening:

“When the regime failed to silence the outcry of Ahwazi people, they initiated different policy as a vicious scheme to distort the real vision of Ahwazi activists to perpetrate a massive systematic liquidation against the Ahwazi activists. Therefore, the regime deployed Press TV to wage distorted media to fabricate the Ahwazian activism and accuse them of being foreign stooges and having relation with terrorism acts.  It is clear that the Iranian regime through its vast unlawful system isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime.

From 2009 the regime seized Press TV, the English speaking channel as an opportunity to deem the Ahwazi Activist as ‘wrong-thinkers,’ ‘wrongdoers,’ or have acquired ‘wrong-knowledge’ or have engaged in ‘wrong-associations in which led them to be lost in darkness, to derail the public eyes of discovering the reality.

Some Ahwazi families reported that their detainees allegedly subjected to tortures, malnutrition, force labor in Prison, and to other cruel and unusual punishments before they pushed to confess forcibly on Air in front of the cameras of Press TV. 

Many Ahwazi Arab prisoners endured televised confessions by Press TV and accused of indiscriminate murder or as accessories to murder. 

The Ahwazi human rights defense organization documented the wave of arbitrary arrests of Ahwazi Arab activists during January and February2012, the number that have been escalating excessively ever since  . In the city of Shush alone, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence arrested more than 30 people who were actively engaged in supporting and advertising the boycotting of March 2012 Parliamentary elections. Soon after these arrests, which led to detention of over 60 people in the province of Ahwaz, some reliable sources close to the families of some of the detainees reported that at least two of the protestors were killed under tortures while in custody at the detention centers.

The severe violations of the rights of the Arab detainees, the complete silence of the official news agencies inside the country about the events of Ahwaz,  , as well as the detainees’ families’ lack of information regarding their fate, compelled the Ahwazis activists to begin researching the matter.

Shortly after this event, Press TV broadcasted a report which included interviews with some of the Arab detainees of Ahwaz—individuals who had been held at an undisclosed location, even unknown to their next of kin, for nearly two months. In its report, Press TV introduced the detainees as terrorists and attempted to invalidate the reports of human rights organizations and activists’ reports.


Press TV broadcasting was also part of its long-standing effort to introduce human rights activists as terrorists or supporters of terrorist activities in an attempt to undermine their documentation and reporting of human rights violations in Iran. As the propaganda arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Press TV has repeatedly violated professional standards of independence and neutrality of the media. It has further deprived individuals and organizations subject to Press TV’s libel and false accusations from their right to reply, a fundamental right according to international regulations governing the media. Meanwhile, many of the individuals falsely accused by Press TV are either in prison and unable to respond or speak in their own defense, or are forced into silence due to security concerns. The close ties and collaboration between Press TV and the security and intelligence apparatus in Iran has caused fear among the individuals residing outside of Iran whose professional or personal dignity has been targeted by the Press TV’s programs. Such individuals refrain from filing any official complaints against the satellite station or even engaging Press TV in a discussion out of fear for their own safety outside of the country or that of their family within Iran.

Upon its establishment, Press TV announced that it intends to be the “voice of the voiceless.” However, five years after it began broadcasting, the conduct of Press TV must be criticized for having in fact violated the rights of the voiceless. Furthermore, Press TV, as a legal entity, and all its officials, as individuals, must be held accountable for the violation of the rights of detainee’s citizens.

In recent days, the  Ahwazi Arab activists of Intellectual–Cultural youth institute of Shush city accused of being terrorist network by the Press TV channel after this channel broadcasted some fabricated and self-made accusations against these Ahwazi activists. In the recent years the intelligence service have been allegedly targeted the Ahwazi political and the cultural class by accusing them of being terrorists and for justifying its oppressive agenda against the Ahwazi activists deliberately deploy Press TV channel to push the Ahwazi activists on air to confess of having links to some terrorists’ related acts.

Apparently, the aim of collaboration of the intelligence service and the press TV is as a last step of deceiving the world that the Ahwazi Arabs activists are terrorists.

The propaganda media campaign of Iran regime against Ahwazi activists aims to portray a fake and distorted vision of the Ahwazi cause in  abroad to make the Ahwazi cause turn to be a victim among the political, civil and humanitarian organizations.

In fact, the press TV channel violates its sense of moral duty in discovering the reality and in a bias act colluded with the intelligence service to oppress the Ahwazi activists by releasing some fake confessions of Ahwazi activists. 

In the recent days, the press TV channel repeated its old shameful scenario by showing some Ahwazi detainees on air to document systematic distorted media coverage for the viewers that Ahwazi Arabs are involve in vandalistic, terrorist actions.

We as Ahwazi political and human rights activists strongly condemn these oppressive strategies against Ahwazi Arab people who have raised their pen to struggle against the oppression, the ethnic cleansing, the lands confiscation and many others grievances since the martially occupation of their lands.

The Ahwazi activists and the founders of the Intellectual–Cultural youth institute in Shush city were striving to promote and teach the Arabic language and the Arabic culture in their historic city of Shush as the Arabic language had been denied and repressed in Ahwaz for over three quarters of a century. These Arab youth activists also organized celebrations and poetry events in their towns during their own holidays to raise awareness of the discrimination that Ahwazi Arabs face in Iran. The other accomplishment of this the Intellectual–Cultural youth institute in Shush city was providing the students with complementary educational programs in the region to assist the Ahwazi Arabs student of high school to get into university as an example 45 deprived rural females managed to enter to university and the gradual increase of Arab students activists at Abdel Khan university.

It is worth to mention that the founders and activists of this cultural institute, who were more than 25 men and women, were mostly cultural, civil, poet and teacher activists that had been arrested in 2011 when they urged people to participate in Friday prayer and organizing poetry nights as a celebration that was coincided with Eid Ramadan in Ahwaz and many Muslim countries. And After few weeks the intelligence service set them free.  It is the nature of the oppressive Iranian regime policy to be afraid of any folk gathering as it used to silence any peaceful protest or gathering   in Ahwaz region.

On 11/11/2012, after the oil pipeline explosion in shush city, 8 activists and founders of this cultural institute had been arrested by the intelligence service and some of them had been released on heavy bails .but three of them after 8 month are still kept in the solitary confinement of intelligence service that accused of being involved into vandalism acts.

The name of these pre- detainees and prisoners are as follow:

1: Ali Chibyshate at the age of 46 is from shush city of Ahwaz had been arrested on 11/11/2012 along with his two sons, Hossien (28 years old, married with one child ,arrested along with his father and set free on bail ) and Salah Aldin (22 years old, single, arrested along with his father and set free on bail ) with dozens of activists such as Syed Yassin Mousavi (34 years old ,married and is still in the prison), Habib Silawi ( 31 years old and arrested on 11/11/2012 and set free on bail), Salman Chyan(32 years old, the son of Mashhut and arrested on 11/11/2012and set free on bail) and Mohammad Chyan( 30 years old and arrested on 11/11/2012 and set free on bail) and Karim Chyan ,(34 years old ,the son of Abu rose , has master degree in geography ,geography teacher ,arrested on 11/11/2012 and set free on bail) and Ashur Shakemli(33years old, single ,arrested on11/11/2012 and set free on bail) because of their engagement in political, cultural and religious activities. The local activists quoted to us that Ali Chibyshate was savagely and cruelly tortured physically and psychologically that his ribs got broken and they even pulled out his nails feet  and tortured his two sons in front of his eyes to let him to give up to their accusations.

These prisoners after 8 month of being tortured and jailed in solitary confinement have been denied the right of having access with lawyer. The Ahwazi activists are in a grave concern that these Ahwazi detainees (Ali Chibyshate, Syed Yassin Mousavi and Salman Chyan) would face with harsh and unfair sentences as the Iran regime English speaker press TV channel broadcasted their fabricated and fake confessions of these prisoners on 26/6/2013. While the revolutionary court of Ahwaz has not issued sentences against these detainees, showing their extracted confessions in Press TV is a start for issuing death penalty or likely life imprisonment against them.

The intelligence service along with Press TV in a fabricated documentary program brought the family members of these detainees to their office and shown them the confessions of these detainees of being involved into the pipe gas and oil blast in Shush city to persuade the families detainees that their relative detainees are pro_ vandalism, terrorism actions as a start to execute them or sentence them to life imprisonment.

While at the same time, the chief executive of Gas and Oil Company of Ahwaz said that the gas pipeline blast was because of technical accident and has denied any sabotage.

The judicial systems along with Press TV are pursuing systematic distorted media coverage to describe the Ahwazi activists as terrorists to execute them.   The execution of Arab activists has continued from 2005 to date. The last case was in June 2011 when four Arab activists (three of whom were brother), Abas Hadrian, Taha heidarian, Abdul-Rahman Hadrian, and Ali Naemimi (sharfi), executed in karoon prison. Through a video recording they released to the public (which they took secretly prior to their execution with a smuggled mobile phone), they announced that their confessions were basically false and extracted from them under sever duress and unspeakable torture .their death sentences had been issued based on their confessions ,which were aired on program on Press TV.”



Why the World Cannot Afford to Appease Khamenei’s Dictatorship in Iran

By Gill Gillespie and Walt Martin

natanzWe have deliberately not mentioned Rouhani in our title because, as all Iranians (and informed non-Iranians) know, he is not the leader of Iran.  The brutal and barbaric leader is Ali Khamenei who wields almost total control over the people of Iran, mercilessly persecuting them, as all NGO’s report to the world and its leaders every single day.  Rouhani is not a moderate, he is Khamenei’s right hand man.  There have been over 130 ‘executions’ since he was, loosely-speaking, ‘elected’.  We use these adjectives deliberately, since voters are forced to vote for only candidates directly selected by Khamenei.  Human rights violations have rapidly accelerated since the election and yet it can be argued to be astonishing that some world leaders continue to appease this appalling regime.  We believe it is also rather shameful that, as the P5 negotiations start today, no one who will be sitting around that table appears to be including the regime’s continuing atrocities in either their comments, or on their agendas.

The Iran regime is very well used to manipulating the West, developing nuclear facilities apace, with the US under Obama and Kerry always several steps behind.  This has variously allowed the regime to ‘cleanse’, dismantle and remove nuclear storage in plenty of time for the EU’s cumbersome and procrastinating approaches.  It also executes hundreds of people every year under the thinly-veiled guise of ‘drug offences’, as well as withholding their names.  We wonder why world leaders are also silent on this issue.  Whilst noting that the Obama Administration still seems to be listening to discredited regime lobbyists, it was, however, encouraging to see Senator Mark Kirk’s article in The Telegraph yesterday, in which he rightly pointed out that to appease the Iran regime would be the wrong thing to do.  These are some of his wise words (with apologies for only using some of them, for the purposes of relative brevity):

“On October 5 1938, Churchill rose in the House of Commons to speak about the agreement Neville Chamberlain had reached with Adolf Hitler in Munich. In explaining his opposition to appeasement, Churchill quoted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from 1,000 years before, on the payment of Danegeld: “All these calamities fell upon us because of evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time nor yet were they resisted; but when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them.”

“Is Britain at risk of making the same mistake again? To answer that, we need to outline Iran’s primary objectives. First, its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wants relief from the economic sanctions imposed by our nations and others, in order to secure his hold on power. The Islamic Republic remains a brutal dictatorship that persecutes and tortures its own population. In a society of young people who do not share the mullahs’ radical Islamist vision, the Supreme Leader knows his regime cannot remain in power for long if the economy continues to deteriorate.”

“Meanwhile, according to official US estimates, the Islamic Republic could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching both sides of the Atlantic by 2015. And lest we forget, it remains the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. It serves as a critical facilitator for al‑Qaeda, was responsible for last year’s terrorist attack in Bulgaria, which killed five Israeli tourists, and has played a key role in propping up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad.

So when negotiations with Iran begin tomorrow, it is no exaggeration to say that David Cameron must choose between two Conservative legacies – that of Winston Churchill, or that of Neville Chamberlain.

The first of this pair would call the offer on the table at Geneva what it is – appeasement. He would opt to maintain maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime until its Supreme Leader fully dismantles his entire nuclear programme and ends his global sponsorship of terrorism. He would not trust a barbarous dictatorship which, as he said in that 1938 speech, “derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution”.

Chamberlain, by contrast, would see a nation turning inward after years of war abroad and economic stagnation at home. He would agree to provide Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for superficial, face-saving concessions that would leave its rulers with the capability to pursue a nuclear breakout in the future. To paraphrase Churchill, he would choose dishonour and inherit war.

Seven years ago, the Security Council ordered Iran to halt its entire nuclear programme. We should not change course now and reward the Islamic Republic for agreeing to do something far less. In 1938, Churchill used the perfect metaphor to describe the lunacy of such diplomacy: “£1 was demanded at the pistol’s point. When it was given, £2 were demanded at the pistol’s point. Finally, the dictator consented to take £1 17s 6d and the rest in promises of goodwill for the future.”

“My colleagues in the US Senate and I will not be fooled by hollow declarations of “peace for our time”. We will not accept any level of uranium enrichment on Iranian soil. We will not accept an Iranian plutonium reactor. And unless we see Iran take immediate steps to comply with all its Security Council obligations, we will move forward with a new round of sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian revenue and reserves.”

We believe that Senator Kirk is right.  The most important thing that world powers can do, for the sake of the world, is put so much pressure on the Iran regime that it is forced out of existence.  It has to be, for the sake of the religious, ethnic and political minorities, men, women and children regularly imprisoned, tortured and executed in Iran.  It has to be, for the sake of the innocents slaughtered should they show any dissent of any kind against misogyny, barbarism, amputations, floggings, stonings and public executions.  Ask us for evidence, we have been collecting this data every single day for over four years, as have many other NGO’s around the world.  Some examples are Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine sentenced to death for ‘spying for the US’ when he was simply visiting his family in Iran.  Poets and bloggers such as  Hashem Sha’bani Nejad and Mohammad Ali Amouri Nejad who should have been safe in Iraq under the protection of the UNHCR but were forced back to Iran.  Kurdish men and women like Hamed Ahmadi, Sedigh Mohammadi and Zeinab Jalalian, sentenced to death because they are Kurdish and dared to oppose the barbaric Iran regime.

International campaigns and attention are effective.  The regime hate it when this happens, as in the cases of Pastor Saeed Abedini and Sakineh Ashtiani.  Pastor Saeed was sentenced to death because he chose Christianity over tyranny, Sakineh because her husband accused her of alleged adultery.  Both of these things are punishable by death, according to Khamenei’s interpretation.  Khamenei even imprisons his own clerics, such as Ayatollah Boroujerdi, because they advocate the separation of religion from politics.  Thanks to international campaigns from supporters around the world, and backing from people such as Senator Kirk, the death sentences for Sakineh and Saeed were commuted, albeit to long prison sentences. We argue, however, that these innocent victims of the Iran regime should never have and should not have to spend even one day in prison, in the hands of a regime which is well known for torturing prisoners until they confess to crimes they did not commit.

The regime must be forced out of existence to reduce global terrorism.  It must be forced to release all political prisoners and they must be allowed to leave the country and reach safe havens elsewhere.  The seven people kidnapped from Camp Ashraf in Iraq must be released.  The children who are in prison because the regime waits until they are 18 then executes them must be released.  All of the people mentioned above, and all of those unjustly imprisoned, but also receive their freedom, unconditionally.

We believe there must be no concessions whatsoever made to the Iran regime.  They must be made to completely dismantle their nuclear programme for the sake of the world, and the world must listen, when people like Senator Kirk and Iranians around the world speak on behalf of the people currently trapped inside what they describe as the world’s largest prison.  Khamenei continues to impose a regime on his people that is more brutal than those during the Dark Ages thousands of years ago.  We believe there is no place for such a regime in a civilized world.

Why Ayatollah Boroujerdi can not be allowed to die in Iran

Dr Gill Gillespie, UK DirectorAyatollah Boroujerdi


Some of our readers may be concerned that we are writing on behalf of an Iranian Ayatollah.  After all, our refugees have suffered greatly at the hands of the Iran regime, which is ruled with an iron fist by Islamist clerics.  Indeed, its ‘Supreme Leader’ is Ayatollah Khamenei.  There are, however, some clerics in Iran who firmly believe in the separation of religion from politics, and, as a consequence, have been severely punished for it.    A few Ayatollahs have even criticized the gross human rights violations committed by Khamenei and the Iran regime.  Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was one, and Hossein Boroujderdi is another of these brave men.


Montazeri was next in line to be ‘Supreme Leader ‘ in Iran after Khomenei.  His campaign for human rights and, in particular, better treatment of the opponents of the Islamic republic in prisons, however, brought him into direct conflict with Khomeini. In 1987, thousands of prisoners were executed without proper trial, leading Montazeri to write to the ayatollah that his prison system and his judiciary were worse than that of the Shah. Ultimately, Khomeini sent Montazeri a letter dismissing him from the succession. Due to his bravery, Montazeri was subjected to a period of house arrest (1997-2003), and his courage in expressing his views earned him respect across the political spectrum. He issued many statements supporting those who opposed the election results in June 2009.  He died in December 2009 and his death sparked many demonstrations, supporting his stance against the regime’s human rights violations and for the separation of religion from politics.


Ayatollah Boroujerdi is a brave man who has similar beliefs.  He has, however, suffered even more seriously at the hands of the Iran regime.  To quote Michael Ledeen in his article ‘Save Ayatollah Boroujderdi’, P J Media, 21 July 2013:

“A brave and good man is dying.  Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeini  Boroujerdi is incarcerated in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, as he has been since 2006.  He is routinely tortured, denied medication for his grave ailments (including heart disease), and under 24-hour surveillance by officers of the Intelligence Ministry.  This sort of treatment is reserved for Iranians judged to be a serious threat to the tyrannical Iranian regime.

Ayatollah Boroujerdi threatens the regime for two reasons:  he advocates toleration of all religious (and non-religious) beliefs, and, in keeping with Shi’ite tradition, opposes the involvement of religious leaders in politics.  Years ago, he said  “the regime is adamant that either people adhere to political Islam or be jailed, exiled or killed. Its behavior is no different from that of Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar.”

He has repeatedly criticized the fundamentalist doctrines of the Iranian theocratic state, and has dramatically spoken about the most explosive issues in the Muslim world, including anti-semitism.  In 2010 he sent Hanukkah greetings to the Jews of the world, saying “any religious belief that brings us closer to the Source (God) is the truth. This force will lead humanity towards enlightenment. On this great day, we celebrate the unity among the believers of God’s light.”

The regime has not executed him, fearing public protest.  He remains one of the most revered men in Iran.  At the time of his arrest, he operated a hundred telephone lines to assure ongoing contact with his followers and allies, and his public meetings were so well attended that he was forced to hold them in a public stadium.  The regime would undoubtedly prefer that he die in prison, so they could claim he succumbed to medical problems.

According to his family and supporters, Ayatollah Boroujerdi is indeed in critical condition.  In the past, prisoners in death camps have been treated better if their captors were aware of widespread attention and concern.  Even in the Nazi death camps, inmates slated for execution did better if they regularly received letters and packages (the Danes were particularly good at organizing such campaigns), and if their names were on requests for clemency from foreign governments to the officials of the Reich.”

Ayatollah Boroujerdi wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, in November 2011.  In it he asks for the human rights violations of the “inhumane and violent regime” to be stopped, through international pressure and communication.  Despite some sanctions implemented by the West since 2009, sadly, these are only concerned with nuclear issues and not human rights, which all reputable sources inside and outside Iran rightly identify as being the priority for the Iranian people.  Hossein Boroujerdi’s family also wrote to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, requesting that he visit Ayatollah Boroujerdi in Evin Prison.  At this point, he had been beaten, tortured and denied medical treatment.  This psychological and physical torture has continued until now, when Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s supporters and family believe the torture he continues to suffer will soon result in his death.  Social networking sites have been the subject of Twitter and Facebook storms, such as #FreeBoroujerdi, in the last few days in an attempt to bring his plight to the attention of the media and politicians.  The strength of support for Boroujerdi can be seen in a petition to free him, signed by more than half a million people, a number unprecedented on the petition site and indicating huge condemnation of the actions of the Iran regime around the world.


The Iranian Refugees Action Network believes that Western politicians and media must put pressure on the Iran regime to release Ayatollah Boroujderdi, as well as all innocent political prisoners.  If they do not, there should be NO negotiation whatsoever with the regime, on any grounds.   This kind, gentle and brave man must not be allowed to die at the hands of a regime which believes it can ride roughshod over every agreement it has ever made with the UN, EU and the West.  It is time for the West to stand up for what is right, and demand the freedom of Ayatollah Boroujderdi, and, subsequently,  the downfall of a regime which treats its people like this.  Western politicians must also not forget that, since the wrongly claimed ‘moderate’ Rouhani was elected in June 2013, there has been a huge increase in the execution of prisoners (most who were deliberately not identified by the Iran regime), with over 80 in just three weeks.  Human rights violations have been accelerated, and Ayatollah Boroujerdi can not be allowed to become yet another of the regime’s victims because he is brave enough to stand up for the rights of his people.




On the Eve of the Anniversary of the 2009 Iran Elections – Four Years On


Iran Election Protests June 2009

By Dr Gill Gillespie, UK Director, and Mr Walton K Martin, US Director

In June 2009, millions of protesting Iranians went out on the streets to demand a secular democracy, raising the hopes of the world for them. Their cries were ‘Where is my vote?’, ‘Death to the Islamic Republic’ and ‘Obama, are you with us or against us’.

We want democrac

Iran Protester Calling For Democracy 2009

85% of Iranians voted in 2009, in the hope that some small changes made by ‘reformists’ would eventually lead to improvements in human rights in Iran. They knew that, as all candidates are chosen personally by Khamenei, (the real leader of Iran), there was no chance of a significant move towards democracy, as all needed to reflect his hard-line Islamic stance in Iran and against the West. Iranians did, however, hope that the ‘most moderate’ candidate for whom they voted, Mir Hossein Mousavi, would be able to effect some small changes, for example improvements in womens’ rights, and that the world would see that Iranians wanted change.

The results of the 2009 election, clearly and now world-recognised, were interfered with and, within a few short hours, results which Iranians knew could not be true were announced. The regime announced that hard-liner Ahmadinejad had won a majority of the votes. The fact that the results were falsified were proven by many things including that, in some areas, Ahmadinejad claimed more than 100% of the votes cast at all, and that there is no way ballots could have been counted by the time the ‘results’ were announced.

Perhaps the most powerful proof was demonstrated by Iranians themselves, who knew they had been cheated. They went out and peacefully protested on the streets of Iran’s major cities in their millions.


Iran Election Protests June 2009

They were brutally attacked by the IRGC and the regime police, with men, women and children being beaten, arrested, imprisoned, raped, tortured and murdered. There are too many examples of individual tragedies to detail here, but they include Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot in the street by an Iran regime sniper while attending a peaceful protest. She became a symbol for Iranians against the regime’s extreme persecution of their own people. There was Taraneh Mousavi, mentioned by Senator McCotter in the US and Sohrab Arabi, murdered by the Iran regime and many, many more.

Today, the leader of the opposition in 2009, Mr Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnarvard, are still under house arrest. The regime continue to be frightened by the outpouring of support for Mousavi, as well as the world’s attention to their persecution in 2009. For the first time, social media was used to capture footage of people getting beaten, tear-gassed and arrested.

tear gas

Iran Regime Fires Tear Gas at Protesters 2009


Injured Man After Being Beaten By Iran Regime Police 2009

The Twitter revolution had been born, and the Iran 2009 protests was the real beginning of what media commentators later called ‘The Arab Spring’.

Our charity was initially set up to cope with the huge influx of Iranians who were fleeing Iran because of persecution. The 2009 protests only added to the reasons why men, women and children flee Iran. There is extreme religious intolerance with minorities such as Baha’is and Christians being targeted, not allowed a formal education or worship in a peaceful way as they wish. If you had previously been ‘Islamic’ and converted to Christianity, the regime can and do charge people with ‘Mohareb’, or ‘Enemy of God’ which is punishable by death. This is a term which is used for anyone who disagrees with Khamenei’s dictats. Protesters became added to the number of ‘Mohareb’ accusations, because a peaceful protest became a disagreement with Khamenei, especially for those who were captured chanting ‘death to the Islamic regime’ and caught on camera by Iran police or security forces. Other ‘offences’ which are given prison sentences or even the death penalty include: being gay, listening to or selling Western music, blogging in any way if there is criticism of the regime, journalists who report this and lawyers who defend those who have been persecuted. Membership of ethnic minorities such as Kurds, Ahwazis, Azeris as well as other political organisations can also result in a death sentence.

In Iran, rape is used as a weapon. The Iran regime declare that it is acceptable to rape a woman who is a virgin before killing her, as they are not allowed to kill virgins. Since 1979 when the Khomeneist regimes took power, this action has been documented extensively. The Iran Tribunal is now investigating the murder of 30,000 people by the Khomenei regime in the 1980’s. William Hague, the UK Home Secretary and others have strongly condemned rape as a weapon of war. They need to understand that this is still going on in Iran, and since 2009 it has been even worse.

Men and women are arrested, deprived of contact with their families, kept in solitary confinement without any access to legal representation, then tortured to extract false confessions of whatever kind the regime want at the time. We have multiple examples of refugees who have suffered this kind of torture and it has included rape, for both men and women. More than 50% of all refugees have suffered some form of sexual assault. The influx of refugees from Iran has not stopped. It continues at the rate of around 250 requests each month (just from refugees to manage to make the difficult journey to Turkey) and it will continue until the Islamic regime of Iran is gone, for the reasons touched upon above.

Iran refugees in Turkey

Iranian Refugees in Turkey

In 2013, in the run up to the ‘election’, people in Iran are very disillusioned. They know all the candidates will again be chosen by Khamenei, to perpetuate his regime which persecutes a depressed nation. Iranians live in fear of persecution every day. Their pleas to Obama have gone unheeded as he strives to maintain the status quo between the US and Iran, while Iran continues its nuclear programme unabated. Questions need to be asked: Why would a country with huge oil reserves need a nuclear programme? Why would it choose to spend multi $bns on such a programme whilst holding back funds from its people, creating an inflationary rate which is becoming increasingly difficult for them? Why would a regime get involved in Syria, sending troops and funds via and with its trained Hezbollah? Many international commentators and most Iranians know the answer. These are further ways in which the regime attempts to repress its people, while controlling state media to condemn the West. The Iranian people are some of the most intelligent in the world. From within Iran, they ask us to help them and, if the world continues to stand by, charities like ours will need to continue helping traumatised asylum seekers who are forced to flee from their own country.

Not only does the Iran regime continue to persecute its own people, its often-stated hatred of the West and its actions propping up other dictatorial states therefore continue to destabilize the whole of the Middle East. With the current fear around the world, as Islamic regimes attack the liberties of the West and others in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and even in Europe and the US, exploiting the liberal nature of some Western Governments, the whole world needs to look to Iran. Its people are NOT the Iran regime, they do not want it, they fear and hate it. Iranians want a peaceful, secular democracy, and they need the world to support them in this. As Iranians themselves say, they currently live in the world’s biggest prison.

You can help. If you would like to donate to Iranian Refugees Action Network, for support that goes directly to refugees, please email UK Director Dr Gill Gillespie at dr_gill_gillespie@yahoo.com or US Director Mr Walton K Martin at Walton_martin2000@yahoo.com. Thank you so much.


By Dr Gill Gillespie

Ateech+AldosariThis article concerns what happens to refugees and their families when support from the UNHCR breaks down. The UNHCR is supposed to be the bough which supports refugees to keep them safe while their cases are being processed, but does it really do this, and what are the barriers it faces? The article is also a follow-up to Walton K Martin’s 2011 publication in The American Thinker, which asked ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran is Holding Hostages in Iraq. Does Anybody Care?

The definition of a refugee, according to the UNHCR Conventions of 1951/1967 is:
“Someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion”

The duty of the UNHCR is to ensure non-discrimination, non-penalization and, most importantly of all, non-refoulement. This latter is largely what this article is concerned with, and, according to the UNHCR’s own convention, non-refoulement is so fundamental that it means no one shall expel or return (refoul) a refugee against his or her own will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom. It is argued that this is very far from the case for current refugees, all over the world, but with the particular focus here on Iranian refugees in Iraq. The dilemma usually centres around the difficulties faced by enforcing such a principle.

The Convention further stipulates that those seeking asylum must not be
arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum, even if they have arrived in a country without legal travel documentation, recognizing that refugees often have to forego this following the removal of such documents by their persecutors after imprisonment and torture.

It should be noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran signed up to the UNHCR Conventions on 28 July 1979. Although Iraq has not, the UNHCR claim that it:

“has been generous in extending hospitality to tens of thousands of refugees and others in need of international protection and assistance”

This article, which, in its extended form, will be reproduced in the Journal of Refugee Studies in due course, argues that the UNHCR’s claims over Iraq’s ‘protection and assistance’ are very far from being accurate.

The current UNHCR plans for Iraq refugees in 2013 (Table) suggest that there are currently over 8,900 Iranian refugees in Iraq.
UNHCR Planning Figures Refugees 2013 Iraq

The Iranian Refugees Action Network represents hundreds of refugees around the world, including Iranian refugees who have fled from persecution by the Islamic regime, due to all the reasons set out in the UNHCR Conventions. After men, women and children have been persecuted by the Iran regime, including being arrested, tortured and imprisoned in Iran, if they are finally released from prison, it is only after having been forced to sign a document. This document usually threatens them that if they reveal anything about the nature of their imprisonment/torture to anyone else, they will be returned to prison for immediate execution, and their families will also be at risk. In all but exceptional cases, those who are persecuted also have their travel documents removed from them, so they and their families cannot flee.

In order to flee Iran, the refugee must therefore, usually, obtain false documentation (at great expense), or undertake a perilous journey to be smuggled either into Turkey, Iraq or a number of other destinations. When refugees arrive in a ‘safe’ country, they are required to register with the UNHCR as soon as possible, who are supposed to then issue them with protective documentation, before pursuing their RSD (Refugee Status Determination) cases.

Most refugees who arrive in Iraq are prevented from reaching the UNHCR by the local Iraqi police, who patrol the Iran/Iraq borders, and arrest refugees, forcing them into local prisons. Unfortunately, many of these prisons are, in effect, controlled by Iran Consulates (we have previously published details elsewhere, such as in our 2011 article). Some of our refugees have been beaten, threatened with loaded guns, tortured, intimidated and, in several cases witness to murders whilst being held in these prisons. We aware of refugees being held in Iraq prisons for years without being given any access to the UNHCR whatsoever.

The UNHCR is therefore largely prevented by bureaucracy, political barriers and the manipulation of the Iraq/Iran authorities from gaining access to refugees, and it is getting worse. One of our refugees, who was beaten and tortured in such a facility in Markhazi Amarah, by an Iranian Consul named Kuhi, was recently moved three times in the space of two months around Iraq to prevent the RSD process from being progressed. His illegal refoulement/deportation has also been prevented three times in the past year, as the Iran regime continues to exercise their influence over these proceedings. His story, and that of others, was reported by our US Walton K Martin, in November, as referred to above. Instead of being in a safe country, the UNHCR process has completely failed this vulnerable refugee, who has now been held in prisons in Iraq since September 2010.

Should this man be forced, against the UNHCR Conventions, back to Iran, he will definitely be imprisoned and sentenced to death, by virtue only of his tenuous connections with a political group. The amount of time and effort that the UNHCR, NGO’s like ourselves and indeed family members have to spend on tracking one refugee down to ensure their safety is enormous.

Meanwhile, Iraq appears to be descending back into political chaos, with millions of people marching in the streets to protest against the Malaki Government and the interference of the Iranian regime. During the political instability, Al-Qaeda continue to claim responsibility for deaths including 50 in a car bomb in just one day this week

The questions for the international community must be these. How and why can a so-called powerful body like the UNHCR be refused access to asylum-seekers, in opposition to all international human rights conventions, even those ‘informally agreed’ with the UNHCR? How can the UN, as a multi-$bn organization, not be giving priority to assist UNHCR personnel, in danger and threatened themselves by Iranian Consulate staff should they wish to carry out their own job in helping refugees to safety? How can the wider political world stand by and watch while the Iran regime moves in to Iraq, not only for political reasons but to force their own people back to Iran to be imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If, as these matters were brought to the attention of the UNHCR and other state bodies, as early as 2011, refugees are still not safe nearly three years later, is the UNHCR really fit for purpose according to its own Conventions?

This article argues that a full investigation should be carried out into the extent of the collaboration between the Iran and Iraq authorities in preventing the UNHCR from effectively operating in Iraq. It further argues that all refugees should be handed over immediately into the protective custody of the UNHCR until such an investigation has been carried out. The findings of such an investigation should be made public. As we asked in 2011, and are asking again, does anybody care?