Iranian lesbian faces deportation
London – 23 August 2007
URGENT ACTION – Pegah Emambakhsh solidarity and support campaign
Pegah is an Iranian lesbian asylum seeker who is facing deportation from the UK on 27 August 2007. She is at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture, lashings and/or possible execution if she is returned to Tehran. A briefing on Pegah’s case follows at the end of this email.
Please write or email asap the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and to Pegah’s British constituency MP, Richard Caborn (see details below).
Pegah Emambakhsh’s Home Office reference number is: B1191057
This number must be quoted in any letter, so the Home Office can identify and access her case.
Campaign letters for Pegah
Please find attached two alternative model letters that you can use to write to the Home Secretary, Richard Caborn (Pegah’s MP), and others.
Here’s what we suggest:
Use either of the sample letters A or B, or, better still, re-write your concerns in your own words, or at least add in some of your own words about why this matters to you, and :
Send a hard copy letter by first class post to arrive by Friday 24 August:
1. Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary, 2, Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF
Or by fax if too late to post a letter: Fax no: + 44 (0) 207 035 3262
In either case the letter (envelope or fax) should be clearly marked for
‘The personal attention of ..’
Email: [email protected] and /or
2. Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP,
Sheffield Constituency Office
Barkers Pool House
Sheffield S1 2HF
Fax: + 44 (0) 114 275 3944
Email link for Richard Caborn:
If you can’t write a letter via the post or manage to send a fax then you could obviously send an email BUT do bear in mind that emails are easily dismissed while mountains of letters and faxes hang around and Embarrass people. If you email remember to paste the contents of your letter into the body of your text rather than send as an attachment, because attachments are much less likely to be opened and read.
Many apologies that this is all close to the wire in terms of time for posting and faxing!
So we can keep a record of what has been written please send a brief email to: [email protected] to let the campaign group know who you have written to and by what form (letters, fax, email)
Many, many thanks to you all
Friends of Pegah
Supported by LGBTI human rights group OutRage!
Background Briefing – Prepared by Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, based on earlier drafts by the UK asylum support network, Assist
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005.
Her claim was rejected and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August 2007. She is scheduled for deportation to Iran on 27 August 2007.
If returned to Iran, she faces certain imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation – she was in a same-sex relationship.
Ms Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum, after her lover was arrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released but not before he had been tortured himself.
Ms Emambakhsh has a more than well founded fear of persecution if she is returned to Iran. She belongs to a group of people – gays and lesbians – who, it is well known, are severely persecuted in Iran.
According to Iranian human rights campaigners, many lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.
In 2006 a German court ruled that an Iranian lesbian could not be deported as she risked death because of her sexuality.
The UK Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) have chosen not to believe that she is in danger if returned to Iran, even though the UK government are well aware of the dangerous situation that gay people face there.
The BIA will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human rights violation if they insist on Ms Emambakhsh’s deportation.
We are now getting Pegah new solicitors in order to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence and expert testimonies. We need a stay of deportation to give Pegah time to prepare and submit this fresh claim.
Pegah’s MP, Richard Caborn, has already won one stay of deportation and is working secure another postponement of deportation on 27 August.
For further information please contact:
Lesley Boulton – [email protected]
Paul Snell 01433 651 533 and 07721 086 301 (mobile)
Margaret or Robert Spooner
0114 258 5715 or Margaret’s mobile 07814 581 357
Assist office: 0114 275 4960
Asylum Seeker Support Initiative – Short Term C/o Victoria Hall
Methodist Church 60 Norfolk Street, SHEFFIELD, S1 2JB
Charity Registration no. 1100894
E-mail address [email protected]
Web Site www.assistsheffield.org.uk
Telephone & fax 0114 275 4960
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
2, Marsham St
London SW1P 4DF
22 August 2007
Dear Home Secretary,
Pegah Emambakhsh HO ref. B1191057
I ask you to reconsider Pegah Emambakhsh’s case and grant her permission to stay in the UK.
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Her claim failed despite appeals and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August and taken to Yarlswood detention centre. She is likely to be deported back to Iran in the near future.
If returned to Iran she faces certain imprisonment and possibly stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation – she was in a relationship with another woman.
Ms Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum after her partner was arrested, tortured and, it is feared, has been sentenced to death by stoning. Her father has also been arrested, tortured and interrogated about Pegah’s whereabouts.
Her experiences in Iran have left her health fragile. Earlier this year her GP stated that she: “would strongly recommend that attempts are not made to remove her from the country as she is not in a fit enough state of psychological health to cope with such an event and would be likely to experience a total psychological breakdown” .
Despite serious mental health problems, Pegah has been an active member of the community in Sheffield, volunteering for a refugee-support organisation, the Northern Refugee Centre. She is well respected and her claims of persecution if returned to Iran are taken seriously by those who know her and work with her.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office recently stated “We will only return those people that the process has decided do not need international protection and can therefore return safely.”
Other European countries (including Germany and Holland) have a moratorium on deporting gay people back to Iran. According to gay rights group Outrage’The Islamic Republic of Iran is qualitatively more homophobic than almost any other state on earth. Its government-promoted and religious-sanctioned torture and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people marks out Iran as a state acting in defiance of all agreed international human rights conventions.’
I urge you to take action on behalf of Ms Emambakhsh and stop her deportation back to a country where there is no doubt she will be persecuted, prosecuted and possibly stoned to death.
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
2, Marsham St
London SW1P 4DF
22 August 2007
Dear Home Secretary
Pegah Emambakhsh seeking asylum in the UK HO ref. B1191057
I am writing to ask you to intervene to stop the deportation of Pegah Emambakhsh who is due to be put on a plane to Iran on Tuesday 28 August 2007. I am sure you will be aware of some of the details of the case already but I would ask you to consider the following, which I believe to be matters of fact:
• It is illegal to be a practicing homosexual in Iran and punishment is severe, including, for women, lashes and ultimately execution – death by stoning is written into the law as the punishment
• The FCO (in a letter from Kim Howells to Linda McAvan MEP 15.8.07 regarding another matter) acknowledges that “Iran’s human rights record is poor and deteriorating” and they have concerns about Iran’s increasing use of the death penalty, public executions and the possibility of death by stoning; Kim Howells also writes in the same letter that the FCO “policy on the death penalty is clear – we oppose it in all forms”
Several EU countries, notably the Netherlands and Germany, have declared a moratorium on deporting gay people back to Iran
A change of president at about the time of Pegah’s first refusal on Appeal in Autumn 2005 has since led to a more conservative and hard line regime in Iran
In addition, Pegah’s stated sexual orientation has now been picked up in an international internet campaign, including translations into Persian and Farsi. This makes Pegah not only a self-confessed lesbian but an internationally high profile one. There is evidence brought together by international research projects and NGOs that homosexuals, male and female, are severely persecuted in Iran.
Taking all the above together I would urge you to take action to halt the deportation of Ms Emambakhsh back to Iran. I believe that she will be in grave danger and it is unsafe to put her on a plane back to Tehran.
I note that a spokeswoman for the Home Office recently stated “We will only return those people that the process has decided do not need international protection and can therefore return safely.”
Finally, there is medical evidence that Pegah is not currently in a fit mental state to be deported.
I understand that her constituency MP, Richard Caborn, has kindly offered to look into this case. I will also be writing to Mr Caborn to urge him to stop this deportation.