Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another Christian Convert Faces Possible Deportation to Iran

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SWEDEN (ANS) -- Iranian Christian convert Parvaneh Sarabadi was forced to leave Iran due to severe harassment and mental pressure.

Parvaneh Sarabadi
According to a story by Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Sarabadi left the country illegally and eventually arrived in Sweden. Despite all the hardship she went through in Iran, she is now about to be deported right back there.

Sarabadi converted from Islam to Christianity with her husband around two years ago. She told Mohabat News that after they trusted Christ, one of their relatives who works for the Islamic regime and has government support, found out about their faith and eventually killed her husband in a conflict.

Mohabat News reported Sarabadi said that her husband's murderer also subjected her to physical harassment, sexual abuse and severe mental pressure. Having no one to support her, and knowing that her testimony would not be accepted in the Islamic judicial system of Iran, she was forced to leave the country against her will. After many difficulties sought asylum in Sweden.

Sarabadi soon began ministering in a local church in the city where she was living. However, Mohabat News said, despite confirmation from the church regarding her claim, and the support of a number of human rights advocacy groups, her asylum application was turned down by the Swedish Immigration Board Office. She faces deportation back to Iran.

She is currently being held police detention. Mohabat News said on Feb. 15, she was put on a plane heading to Iran, but when she as well as other passengers objected, the pilot said he wouldn't fly the aircraft if she was on board. The police officers then took her back to detention "and treated her badly as if she were a criminal."

In addition to collecting signatures for a petition supporting Sarabadi, Mohabat News said a group of social activists also held protests and announced that according to international law, she should be released and be granted her rights as a religious and political refugee. One of the many protests held in her support took place on Feb. 15.

The protest was held in partnership with the church of Falun. Mohabat News said a number of Sarabadi's friends and supporters gathered in front of the police detention center in Falun. Another group held a protest in front of the immigration office in Stockholm, expressing their objection to the decision of Immigration authorities regarding Sarabadi's potential deportation.

Mohabat News reported Sarabadi's lawyer said he is following up on her case and going through the legal process to annul the Immigration Board's decision and request that they review her case again.

Mohabat News reported the lawyer said, "I think the support of all media, refugee and human rights advocacy organizations is necessary and sincerely ask for their help. Publicizing Parvaneh's situation through the media, especially in Europe, the advocacy of human rights organizations, as well as protests in support of Parvaneh's refugee claim can be of great help."

Mohabat News commented, "Considering the brutal treatment of the Islamic regime of Iran towards religious and political dissidents, and the death sentence for Christian converts who are apostates in the Iranian regime's eyes, it is clear that deporting religious and political asylum seekers to Iran can put their lives at risk. This is why many social and political activists put all their efforts into stopping the deportation of asylum seekers to Iran."

Mohabat News said according to human rights activists, a large multi-city protest drawing thousands was held in Sweden on March 9 2013, against the inhuman situation of asylum seekers and refugees in the country and the harsh measures taken by Swedish police to deport them.

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