Activists Protest Outside Cyprus Embassy, Demand Rights of Iranian Refugees Be Upheld

Activists gathered outside the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington DC to protest against the illegal and inhumane violations of the rights of Iranian and other refugees in Cyprus on 8 May 2011. The demonstration was organized by Mission Free Iran and supported by local Iranian activists and the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees.

Iranian refugees in Cyprus, like refugees around the world, have long endured the lack of rights and the exploitation that comes with being deprived of a recognized legal status within society. Yet while the dire circumstance of Iranian refugees in places like Turkey and Greece are better known, a veil of silence is draped across the abuses of human rights inflicted on refugees in Cyprus.

Iranian refugees themselves have been working hard to break that silence. Groups of Iranian asylum-seekers illegally detained in Larnaca and Limassol Prisons in Cyprus have been on hunger strike over the past few weeks, and they issued a set of demands to be heeded by the Cypriot government and UNHCR.

Today’s protest at the Embassy of Cyprus was in support of their demands for the immediate release from detention of all asylum seekers who have been detained on no other grounds than not having a visa or a valid passport; and for the review of the refugees’ asylum applications, corrections made to their files with the help of a reliable interpreter other than Mr. Khalaj, and new rulings on their cases based on their corrected documents.

We further demanded that UNHCR confer prima facie status on Iranian refugees, given the Islamic Republic’s stated intention to prosecute political asylum-seekers under Article 7 of the Islamic Penal Code.

A previous demand in support of a mother who had been illegally imprisoned for approximately 6 weeks and separated from her child who was given into the custody of another family was no longer in effect: the night before the demonstration it was learned that the mother in question had been released from the hospital (where she had been admitted as a result of her life-threatening hunger strike) and allowed to go home to be with her child. Her husband, however, remains in detention.

The demonstrators stood with protest signs in front of the Embassy; many passing cars slowed on the quiet street to better read the signs, and several showed their support by tapping on their car horns. We handed out flyers about the situation facing Iranian refugees in Cyprus (embedded below) to interested passers-by. Persian News Network/Voice of America covered the action. At the end of the action, we signed a letter of protest and slipped it into the Embassy’s mail slot.

We encourage all concerned members of the public to contact the Ombudsmand of Cyprus; the Police Authority in Cyprus; the Office of the Inspector General at UNHCR; Maja Kocijancic, Deputy for Catherine Ashton, Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs; and the Greek offices of the Red Cross to demand an investigation into the violations of the rights of Iranian refugees in Cyprus.

Email addresses:,,,,,,

Sample letter:
To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you with deep concern about the conditions facing Iranian refugees in Cyprus. Refugees report that their asylum cases have been rejected due to the bad practices of a corrupt translator. As a result, many of them have been left in a situation where their passport and/or visa have expired, yet they fear for their security if they are returned to Iran and the known persecution awaiting them there, as explicitly promised by the Islamic Republic. Many are detained illegally in Cypriot prisons for no reason other than their refugee status. Many of those detained still have their asylum applications open, making their detention a clear violation of their human rights.

I demand that you urgently investigate the complaint about the corrupt translator, and the practice of illegally detaining Iranian refugees in Cyprus. Refugees have a right under international law to asylum and protection, and they have the right not to be returned against their will to a place where they fear for their safety and security. These fundamental rights of refugees must be respected and upheld.

[your name]

Members of the ICRIR include Action for Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East,International Federation for Iranian Refugees, Iranian Refugees Action Network, IranianRefugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.
ICRIR: Official Complaint by Iranian AsylumSeekers Against the Migration OfficeTranslator in Cyprus
(Amir Masoud Khaghani, the author of this letter,represents refugee activists in Cyprus who are collaboratingwith ICRIR)
To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,We are officially demanding that Mr. Hamid Khalaj, anIranian translator at the migration office in Cyprus, beinvestigated.This is our formal group complaint because many of our translations are incorrect. For someunspecified reason, Mr. Khalaj is very hostile towards Iranians, and because of his animosity,
the majority of the refugees in Cyprus believe this person’s hostility has had an influence on
their negative status determination.Therefore, we, the undersigned, ask UNHCR to investigate this problem. Meanwhile, we knowthat the translator has a direct relationship with the Embassy of Islamic Republic, and has
provided refugees’ confidential information to the Iranian consulate in Cyprus. This is
dangerous and constitutes a threat to our lives as refugees from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
 Thank you for your attention,A group of Iranian refugees in Cyprus:
1) Ali Ramazani arc: 56312752) Amir Masoud Khaghani arc: 5570795A3) Zinat Tajik Plasht arc: 56019794) Saeid Khaghani arc: 55843145) Daryoush Mahyaei arc: 54008136) Mehrdad Marouf arc: 56426697) Reza Sadeghi arc: 56493718) Amin Vadian arc: 56386539) Iraj Ghalami Oskouei arc: 554235710) Mahvash Dekhoshnam arc: 565069211) Mohammad Agha Rabi arc: 565069112) Mohammad Khorasani arc: 56695113) Masoud Torabi arc: 562449414) Jalil Pahlavani arc: 55080215) Aram Adalat arc: 550803A16) Hossin Aghghir arc: 565024017) Esmaeil Maslahati Niar arc: 564749318) Abbas Maslahti arc: 553421319) Ali Reza Amini arc: 546228820) Hamid Reza Gohary arc: 566913621) Abdollah Arc: 560270422) Fatemeh Sheykhvand arc: 564702823) Sayed Kazeme Mosavi arc: 58486124) Abbas Haji Remezan arc: 562457925) Behnaz Kashipaze Tehrani arc: 5624580

Veröffentlicht am 9. Mai 2011 in Aktionen, Gesetze, Medien, Politik und mit , , , , , , , , getaggt. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. Kommentare deaktiviert für Activists Protest Outside Cyprus Embassy, Demand Rights of Iranian Refugees Be Upheld.

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