Belgian government threatens Iranian asylum seekers: Stop this travesty of justice!

The Belgian government, together with other EU countries, has declared Iran a "safe country", by which they mean that no-one is in danger of state repression there. This is clearly a manoeuvre. Iran remains one of the most dangerous countries for anyone struggling for genuine human rights, and particularly workers' rights. Support the 250 asylum seekers! European countries are stepping up their war against asylum seekers with plans to establish a new list of so-called “safe countries”. While they call this policy new, it is in fact a continuation of old policies that have been implemented gradually to further criminalize and isolate the asylum seekers and to all intents and purposes do away with the right to asylum which had lost its usefulness after the end of the Cold War. They needed it then to show they were pro-human rights in relation to the Eastern Bloc. Now, in order to justify their policies, they play on people's real concerns about the rise of the far right in European countries. Thus the asylum seekers are being scape-goated for the EU’s right wing and failed policies.

Many asylum seekers are fleeing Iran. This country has been one of the major sources of refugee outflow over the past two decades. In the past, many were granted asylum. Today, however, asylum seekers including Iranian asylum seekers are being defined as “illegal migrants”, "bogus" or "economic immigrants". In spite of what they may say, the conditions in Iran have not changed. If anything they have actually worsened. The Islamic Republic of Iran under the rule of fundamentalism has become the capital of the world for executions, torture and stoning to death. And yet the rate of recognition of Iranian asylum seekers has fallen dramatically. One of the main reasons for this is that the European countries have been expanding their economic and political relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran which in spite of it being one of the most notorious and repressive regimes in the world.

Expanding economic relations with Iran has an impact on Iranians both inside the country and in exile. The working class in Iran is already suffering from the effects of privatisation and corruption. Expanding economic relations with this corrupt system only serves to exacerbate the conditions for the working class in Iran. Iranians in exile are now suffering from this policy because it means they are refused the status of political asylum.

The latest scandalous decision by the EU on asylum seekers was taken on November 6. It means that in the future they will give the victims of those who traffic clandestinely with immigrants temporary permission to stay for 6 months. However this is to be conditional. It will be based on the co-operation of the asylum seekers who will have to provide information on, and help the police and security forces capture smugglers. And this will also determine who they will recognise as victims of smugglers!

One of the EU countries which has strong economic and political ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran is Belgium. The degree to which the Belgian government has ties with the Islamic regime of Iran can be seen clearly in its high number of refusals for Iranian asylum claims.

The Belgian government is negotiating with the Iranian authorities the deportation of Iranian asylum seekers whose asylum claim has been refused. The general situation in Iran is proof enough of the fact that these asylum seekers would suffer persecution upon their return. 

On September 19, 17 Iranians left the Petit Chateau detention centre in Brussels for the ULB (University of Brussels) after receiving orders to leave the country. Dozens of their compatriots, also hoping to be granted political asylum in Belgium, joined them until some 250 were camping out on the ULB campus. Of the protesters, 31 have been on hunger strike for the past 20 days.

They need our support urgently. If this protest proves to be successful, then it would be a defeat and a precdent for the other EU countries in their anti asylum policies. In solidarity we can support the protest of these 250 by sending faxes or calling the Belgian Interior Minister or the Belgian Refugee Commission. You can also sign a petition online to support those who are on strike.

Belgian Interior Ministry: Tel: 00 32 25048511, Fax: 00 32 25048500
Belgian Refugee Commission: Tel: 00 32 22055107, Fax: 00 32 22055115
Petition online:

Behzad Javaheri,
Student at King's College, University of London

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