Pegah Emambakhsh – Iranian gets refugee status in UK

Posted on January 25, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

The following is a series of articles that follow the journey of Pegah Emambakhsh as she gained refugee status in the UK.
This story is located at:
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Pegah Emambakhsh wins!
Just received a message that finally, after far, far too long, Iranian lesbian Pegah Emambakhsh has refugee status in the UK.

No more detail yet but this is amazing news.

“I could not believe it. I did not read any papers so far” Pegah said in a telephone conversation with IRQR today at 11:00 PM London time zone. She continued “Few hours ago I received a phone call from my lawyer that I granted refugee status. I will meet my lawyer tomorrow and I have to read that paper several time to make sure I am free from now. I hope all of people can achieve their dreams” This has been a long struggle but is a real vindication of what can be achieved when we all work together.

UPDATE: From article in The Independent:
Asylum rights groups have been pressing the British Government to introduce a moratorium on returning gay and lesbian refugees to Iran, where homosexuality is still considered a crime. But the Home Office made clear last night that it was not prepared to grant a blanket exemption in such cases. A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “We consider each case on its individual merits and, whenever someone needs our protection, we grant it. We constantly monitor the human rights situation in countries like Iran and press for an end to abuses, but we do not believe that everyone claiming to be a homosexual from Iran is in need of international protection.”
Posted by Paul Canning at 2/11/2009

Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Letter from Caroline Lucas supporting Pegah Emambakhsh
NB: this letter from Caroline is from last year – latest on Pegah – but it’s a good example of how these sorts of letters are written.
Dear Minister,
Re: Pegah Emambakhsh – H.O ref: B1191057
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian woman who is being held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. If deported to Iran, Pegah faces imprisonment and execution by stoning, due to her sexual orientation.
Pegah escaped from Iran and sought asylum in the UK in 2005, after her partner was arrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested, interrogated and tortured for information about her whereabouts.

The UK Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) rejected Pegah’s claim for asylum and her appeal against the decision has failed. Pegah was arrested and taken to Yarls Wood Immigration Centre in Bedfordshire, where, as far as I am aware, she is still being held. However, Pegah has recently received the offer of asylum in Italy.
It was a grave miscarriage of justice and contravention of human rights that her appeal for asylum was rejected by the UK in 2005. Despite her traumatic past experiences, Pegah has been an active and respected member of the community in Sheffield, volunteering for a refugee-support organisation.

After her plight received wide media coverage in Italy, Pegah’s case has now been taken up by the Italian government, and she has been offered asylum in the city of Venice. The Mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, has stated that the city “places a secure living facility at the woman’s disposal”.

I, therefore, strongly urge you to ensure that Pegah is not deported to Iran where there is little doubt she would persecuted in an extreme manner, and possibly stoned to death. Pegah is at even greater risk of persecution now that she has received visible media attention. I would strongly urge you to ensure that, if the UK is unwilling to review its position, Pegah is permitted to go to Italy, where she can live in safety and be reunited with her children.

Yours sincerely,
Caroline Lucas – Green Party MEP for South East England.
Posted by gayasylumuk at 5/07/2008

Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Iran lesbian’s appeal ordeal

An Iranian lesbian who faces imprisonment and even death if she returns to her home country because of her sexuality is still in limbo waiting for a fresh appeal for asylum to be heard.

Pegah Emambakhsh first sought asylum in Sheffield in 2005, after escaping from Iran where it is claimed her lover had been arrested, tortured and sentenced to death by stoning.

But last year her application and subsequent appeal were refused, and in August she was taken to Yarlswood detention centre ready for deportation.

Campaigners in Sheffield stepped in and she was saved from being sent back, bailed, and allowed to return to the city.

In the last two weeks Pegah has received a letter from the Home Office confirming it will look at her case again, but nearly nine months on does not know when a decision will be made.

Campaigner Margaret Spooner said: “This is one of the hardest parts – the fact it goes on and on and she has no idea when something will happen.”
Posted by Paul Canning at 4/30/2008

Now Iranian lesbian who fled to Britain faces deportation
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
This story is located at:
Friday, 7 March 2008
Prof.Dr. Abdurrahim Vural
President of IRG was acquitted bythe European Court of Human Rights!

An Iranian lesbian who fled to Britain after her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to death faces being forcibly returned after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.

The case of Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, comes a day after The Independent reported on the growing public outcry over the plight of a gay Iranian teenager who fears he will be executed if he is deported to Iran.

Both cases have provoked international protests against Britain and led to calls for an immediate moratorium on the deportation of gay and lesbian asylum-seekers who fear they will be persecuted in Iran.

More than 60 MEPs have signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Mehdi Kazemi, 19, who escaped to the Netherlands after the Home Office refused him asylum last year. His case is still before Dutch judges who will decide this month whether he should return to Britain where he faces deportation to a country which has already executed his boyfriend.

Gay rights group claim there are dozens more cases of gay and lesbian asylum-seekers living in Britain in fear of persecution and facing harsh punishments if forced to return to Iran.

Ms Emambakhsh came to the UK in 2005 fearing for her life after her partner had been arrested by Tehran police. Iranian gay rights groups have reported that that partner is in custody under sentence of death by stoning. Speaking through her asylum representative in Sheffield yesterday, Ms Emambakhsh said: “I will never, never go back. If I do I know I will die.”

Under the Iranian Islamic Punishment Act, lesbians found guilty of sexual relations can be sentenced to 100 lashes. But, for a third offence, the punishment is execution.
Ms Emambakhsh narrowly avoided deportation in August last year but only after her local MP, Richard Caborn, and other parliamentarians persuaded the Government to allow her to stay while further legal avenues of appeal were explored. She says she was already on the way to Heathrow when she learnt of her last-minute reprieve. But last month the Court of Appeal turned down her application for permission for a full hearing. Ms Emambakhsh said yesterday that she was “very disappointed” by the ruling but planned to apply for a judicialreview at the High Court. The Home Office has also agreed to consider fresh legal representations on her behalf.

The Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford has written to the Home Secretary to request her urgently to review the case of Mehdi Kazemi. Lady Ludford, the party’s European justice spokesperson and a member of the European Parliament’s Gay and Lesbian Rights Intergroup, said: “Jacqui Smith must recognise and act on the real threat of persecution and even execution which Mr Kazemi would face if he was to be deported to Iran.”
Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

In a phone conversation with his father in Tehran, Mr Kazemi was told that, before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Mr Kazemi. Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. Late last year, his claim was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of being deported, he made a desperate attempt to evade deportation by fleeing to the Netherlands where he is being detained amid a growing outcry from campaigners.
In turning down Ms Emambakhsh and Mr Kazemi’s asylum applications, the Home Office has said that, provided Iranians are discreet about their homosexuality, they will not be persecuted. But Omar Kuddus, of Gay Asylum UK, demanded that Britain follow the example of the Netherlands and Germany in imposing a moratorium on all deportations involving gay and lesbian Iranians. He asked: “How many more young Iranians have to die before the British Government takes action?”

The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency, Lin Homer, said: “Our country guidance for such cases is published and is considered as amongst the best in the world. We have expert case workers who make decisions on such cases and there are further avenues through the courts. When and if a court decides that we should look at a case again we will do that.”


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