NGO Expresses Concern about Iranian Asylum Seekers

(from Iranian Refugees At Risk Summer 95)

Jesuit Refugee Service is an international church based non-governmental organization advocating on behalf of refugees and displaced persons. The organization has projects in more than 40 countries. Recently, Jesuit Refugee Service-Canada has written letters of concern regarding the situation of Iranian asylum seekers in Turkey to the UNHCR, Turkey's Prime Minister and Canada's Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Citizenship and Immigration.

Parts of JRS-Canada's letter to Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, dated August 2, 1995, reads:

" We share the concerns of the Iranian Refugees' Alliance in New York as well as the Iranian Community Association of Ontario about the situation of Iranian asylum seekers in your country. We are sure that the as a neighboring country you are well aware of the fact that Iran remains a country with very serious human rights problems. The existing government if far from democratic and should not be assessed in its mere expression of good faith It is the same government that consecrated Khomeini's verdict for the assassination of the British writer Salman Rushdie. The present regime continues its deification of the late Ayatollah Khomeini who is responsible for thousands of deaths and hundreds of imprisonments.

We cannot deny that executions have apparently decreased since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. This, However, is because Khomeini successfully completed his policy of total annihilation just before his death.

In its resolution of March 1994, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights expressed deep concerns at the high number of executions, punishments in Iran. In August 1994, the U.N. Sub-Committee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities denounced the widespread violation of human rights by the Iranian Government including arbitrary and summary executions, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, unexpected disappearances, the absence of guarantees essential for the protection of the rights to a fair trial. In its World Report of 1995, the Human Rights Watch stated that the rights situation in Iran showed no improvement in 1994. A picture emerged of new obstacles to the rule of law, a marked worsening of the situation of religious minorities, heightened enforcement of intrusive restrictions on basic freedom of expression, thought, opinion and press, and discrimination against women. The government generally excluded independent human rights monitors" (Human Rights Watch World Report 1995, p. 269).