Despite efforts and expressions of concern by asylum activists in Stockholm, to prevent Iranian Christian asylum seekers from being deported from Sweden, the possibility of their deportation by Swedish immigration authorities remains. These Christians face dangers if returned to their country of origin.
After the immigration office of Sweden decided to deport Iranian asylum seekers, among whom are some Iranian Christians, a number of Human Rights and political activists made numerous efforts to prevent this from happening. Among these efforts we can mention the Federation of Iranian refugees held a demonstration in Sweden (Feb. 13) to protest the deportation verdict of one asylum seeker and the arrest of another refugee, as well as the presentation of a statement by four Human Rights activists to the Swedish immigration office.
In this statement it was written that “we are four Iranian Human Rights activists who object to the racist politics of the Swedish government towards the asylum seeker’s community and strongly condemn the deportation of Mohammad-Reza Hamedi on February 15, 2012. We call on the immigration office of this country to immediately release asylum seekers including Mohammad-Ali Hodaei and Yasin Elyasi. They pleaded with this office to show a more humanitarian behavior towards these people.
-Fate of Mohammad-Ali Hodaei
On February 8, the «Världen Idag» daily reported that Mohammad-Ali Hodaei, an Iranian citizen who converted to Christianity is in danger of deportation. The daily’s reporter had visited him in person before his arrest by police. During this visit he said, “If it is Jesus’ will for me to return to Iran, I’ll submit to his will and he will protect me himself.” The immigration office of Sweden does not doubt Mr. Hodaei’s conversion, but it seems that they’re not fully aware of the consequences of his return to Iran. Mr. Hodaei’s evangelical activities could cause great risk for his future. He has been writing and posting daily evangelical messages on social media such as Facebook and through these media carries out evangelical activities. Sometime after this visit he was arrested and jailed and a few days after this interview the Swedish police decided to implement his deportation.
-Activists’ efforts to prevent deportation
On Friday March 16, the Swedish police transferred Mr. Hodaei from jail to the airport to deport him to Iran and even put him on the airplane. On Thursday morning, March 15 the Federation of refugees in Stockholm and other organizations called for a demonstration to protest the deportation of Mohammad-Ali Hodaei. In response, a number of refugees and advocates for refugee’s rights gathered in front of the Immigration Office in Stockholm. At the same time Sara Nakhaei, manager of the Federation of refugees in Stockholm and Rasoul Banavand manager of the Bimrez organization talked with an official of the Immigration Office about the situation of Mohammad-Ali Hodaei and expressed their objection to the decision of this office. The morning that Mohammad was to be deported to Iran, Andisheh Alishahi, an official of the Federation of Refugees spoke directly with the prosecutor of Mr. Hodaei’s case in immigration court and pleaded for him to stop his deportation to Iran. Rights activists asked protesting people to move their demonstration to the airport to stop the process of Mr. Hodaei’s deportation. Following this action Mr. Ezat Dolatabadi a current refugee, together with some others, arrived at the airport. Also, Maryam Hodaei, daughter of Mohammad Ali Hodaei who has lived in Sweden for a long time, bought a ticket for the same flight and boarded the aircraft to express her objection to the policies of the Swedish government towards refugees there. Some police officers also boarded the aircraft to remove her from the plane. Other passengers intervened and tensions rose. The flight delayed for half an hour. These protests caused the police to remove Mr. Hodaei from the aircraft and return him to the border police’s custody center.
-The situation of Mohammad-Reza Hamedian Esfahani
Another Christian convert who is in danger of deportation to Iran, is Mr. Mohammad-Reza Hamedian Esfahani. After his conversion to Christianity he changed his name to Maxim. In 2008, because of his unsafe situation, he applied for refugee status in the Immigration Office in Sweden, after he left Iran. However, his application was turned down last year because he had entered Sweden using a visa. He had changed his religion in Iran and become a Christian and because of this he was fired from his job. In Sweden, after his application was rejected, he was jailed by order of the police and the Immigration Office. Now, the Immigration office is pressuring him and his family. If he and his family are deported to Iran, he would certainly face dangers. Thus, Human Rights organizations and many activists are making efforts to have the decision of the Swedish Immigration Office changed. However, he has not received an answer yet so he still faces the risk of deportation. (MohabatNews)