Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mehdi Kazemi - demo still on

The demo on saturday is still taking place.

From Peter Tatchell :

Demo – Defend Mehdi Kazemi

Oppose Iran's homophobic persecution

Reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees

Join the protest

This Saturday, 22 March

2pm to 3pm

Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1

Friends and supporters of gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, are
asking you to join our protest opposite Downing Street this Saturday,
March 22nd:

Our demands are:

- Don't send Mehdi Kazemi back to his death in Iran
- Down with Iran's homophobic laws
- For the right to settle in the UK.

The event is sponsored by Middle East Workers' Solidarity and the
National Union of Students LGBT campaign, and is supported by the LGBT
human rights group, OutRage! has more details.

OutRage! is highlighting the five failings of the Home Office with
regard to LGBT refugees:

- No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and

- No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to
claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation

- No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum
detention camps

- No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT
people in violently homophobic countries

- No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum

We hope to see you on Saturday at 2pm.

Solidarity and appreciation, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Also, some background from Mehdi :

Statement of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi

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. Since this incident about Parham I have been so sacred. However, when things do get settled down I want to start dating again and live my life without fear.

I am currently living in he UK on student visa which is due to expire in November 2006. I now wish to claim asylum in the UK I can not return to Iran because I will face persecution in the hands of the Iranian government.

For the reasons stated above I requested the Secretary of State to grant me full refugee status in the UK.

More info on other case on IRQO.

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