Dear Refugee Advocates,
Iranian refugees are escaping into Turkey- see story below.
A very few have come to Australia following the protests after the rigged elections in Iran.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003
ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075
Fear of Tehran haunts Iranian refugees
AFP, NEVSEHIR, TURKEY
Sunday, May 16, 2010, Page 4
|Iranian refugee Siavash stands on a terrace during an interview in Kayseri, Turkey, on May 4.
Tortured in jails and threatened with death, Behzad, Siyavash and Ali have, like hundreds of dissident Iranians, found refuge in Turkey, but peace of mind is still eluding them as fear of Tehrans agents remains a daily torment.
While fellow opposition activists are preparing to hold protests in Iran at the anniversary of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejads disputed re-election on June 12 last year, Behzad (not his real name) leads a secluded life in a shabby apartment in Nevsehir, central Turkey.
The tortures that I went through and those that I witnessed an animal would not do that to another animal, the young man said.
His only fault, he said, was to have participated in a student protest challenging the election results last year.
Showing pictures of his back scarred by bruises after a four-month stint in prison, Behzad lists the horrors to which he was subjected: beating, sexual abuse, forced insomnia, cold water dousing and the terror of standing blindfolded in what turned out to be a mock execution.
After a while, I would have confessed anything, I could not stand it anymore, he said. They wanted confessions about my father, that he had ties with America and Israel … And they forced me to say so.
The confessions secured his freedom. Several weeks later, Behzad sneaked into neighboring Turkey, crossing the mountainous border on horseback, in the company of smugglers, like many Iranian exiles.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4,000 Iranian asylum seekers and refugees political dissidents, but also converts to Christianity, homosexuals and followers of the minority Bahai faith are registered in Turkey, their main exit route.
The applicants numbers since last years presidential polls standing at 1,828 between July and March does not represent a significant increase, but their profile has changed, according to the UNHCR.
Stuck in Nevsehir, one of the 32 Turkish cities accommodating asylum seekers, Behzad is waiting for the UN to decide his fate and arrange a Western country to accept him.
Handicapped with a stiff leg the result of a blow from a police truncheon during a demonstration and suffering psychological problems, he lives in poverty.
However, his main problem is the fear.
Here, I am afraid of everything: the police, Iranian agents and all Iranians here I fear they will make reports on me. Sometimes I am even scared to go out, he said.
For him, the presence of Iranian agents pursuing dissidents is beyond doubt: In late November, he said, an Iranian refugee arrived in Nevsehir and disappeared the following day, leaving behind only unpacked suitcases.
Behzads friend, Siyavash, also spoke of a strong sense of insecurity as he showed burns from electric shock on his thighs after several months in an Iranian jail.
One night, about midnight, three drunk men tried to break the door of my building, shouting. Fortunately, my Turkish neighbors downstairs intervened, he said.