A good half an hour later there was a bloke in a suit knocking on our window. The SIS had left one behind and the door didn't have a handle to open from the outside. Gold pure gold.
So, did you leave them out there to freeze for a while? Smert' shpionam, and all that.
Speaking only for myself, I would rather give $10 to helping a third world country develop (you know, to people who can't afford air fares) than give $1 to a refugee.
Generally I agree with you; all other things being equal, it is better to help people build their own futures. But it is rather difficult to help people who live under repressive regimes (not to mention morally questionable if it aids the survival of those regimes), and the best thing we can do on that front is help pick up the pieces for those who manage to escape.
Nothing lasts forever, and when governments change and situations stablise, refugees can go home. But sometimes that takes so long that they have become valued members of our community in the meantime, with jobs, families, and children. And under those circumstances, its IMHO better to let people stay if they want to than uproot them again
I disagree. The problem is that people don't have a great deal of confidence in the integrity (or even the intrinsic value) of the refugee system, populated as it is by people who do not share their views.
Translation: the majority of New Zealanders are vicious xenophobes who do not give a rat's arse about human rights.
I think we should reject that characterisation, andactually try and live up to our own fine opinion of ourselves.
I guess we're down to what constitutes a significant risk and how that should be proved. The RSAA found Panah's evidence that he was at risk to be fabricated. What evidence should it have acted on?
Reports by Amnesty International and other NGOs of the religious situation in Iran. And if the RSAA found that that didn't meet the level of persecution required for refugee status, the government should have allowed temporary protection regardless.
Mark: that's why I went straight to Amnesty International, though the US State Department country report on Iran is also an interesting read...
Along with applicants from Burma, China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, North Korea, Eritrea, Sudan and Vietnam? Those are the other countries on the US State Dept's most recent "Countries of Particular Concern".
Yes. Either we stand for human rights, or we don't. If people face a significant risk of persecution due to their religious or political beliefs, or their race or social status, then we should grant them refuge. Anything else is failing in our duty as human beings.
And for those who raise the prospect of being "swamped", this country is not a full lifeboat, and we are not going to have to throw anybody overboard in order to make space. We do not face tremendous influxes of refugees, and given the difficulties of travelling here, nor are we ever likely to (except perhaps from Australia when they run out of water).
This issue is about generousity and simple human decency. Unfortunately, the public rhetoric is dominated by the ungenerous and indecent competing to be increasingly vicious in an effort not be a "soft touch" (i.e. decent human beings). And their xenophobia and hatred shames all of us.
Russell: no, it's not an automatic death sentence, but it is a risk, and there is significant persecution. And that's why we should be granting these people protection.
Don't even get me started on countries who deport gays to Iran.
Fortunately, from the RSAA's database, we don't seem to do that.
Wouldn't Panah be just as much at risk on his return if he'd declared himself to be an atheist?
Indeed. But how the hell would he prove it to the satisfaction of the RSAA? How could anyone?
Russell: I was actually going off the rulings, which I found a few days ago. And again, what matters isn't any "patently false documents" he presented in the past, but what his religious beliefs are now.
There is another issue here, and that is the RSAA's approach to claims of religious discrimination in Iran. I've read a fair number of the recent cases (they're handily searchable by country and topic), and they seem to be demanding evidence of actual persecution before departure to justify a refugee claim. But as Amnesty International and other human rights NGOs argue, this is setting the bar too high. Here's what they have to say in their 2007 Report about religious persecution in Iran:
Several evangelical Christians, mostly converts from Islam, were detained, apparently in connection with their religious activities.
• In September, Fereshteh Dibaj and her husband, Reza Montazemi, were detained for nine days before being released on bail. Fereshteh Dibaj is the youngest daughter of convert Mehdi Dibaj who was murdered in 1994 shortly after being released from prison where he had been held for nine years for "apostasy".
And in a 2006 report following the election of the current government:
Since President Ahmadinejad’s election, members of Iran’s religious minorities have also been killed, detained or harassed solely in connection with their faith. Even the recognized religious minorities of Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians face discrimination in law and practice with respect to employment, marriage, and criminal sanctions. Unrecognized religions such as the Baha’is, Ahl-e Haq and Sabeaens (Mandeaens) are at particular risk of discrimination. Converts from Islam can risk arrest, attack or the death penalty.(21) Official statements from time to time create an atmosphere in which human rights abuses by non-state actors against minorities may be encouraged. For example, on 20 November 2005, Ayatollah Jannati, the Secretary General of the Council of Guardians which vets legislation passed by the Majles to ensure its conformity with Islamic Law, stated in a speech at a commemoration of those killed in the 1980-1988 war with Iraq that "human beings, apart from Muslims, are animals who roam the earth and engage in corruption".
Prisoner of conscience Hamid Pourmand, who converted to Christianity from Islam over 25 years previously, remained in prison after being sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by a military court in February 2005 on charges of deceiving the Iranian armed forces about his religion and ‘acts against national security’. In May 2005 he was acquitted of further charges of apostasy. He was arrested along with 84 others at the annual general conference of Iran’s Assemblies of God Church in Karaj in September 2004; all the others were later released.(22)
Ghorban Dordi Tourani, 50, an ethnic Turkmen convert from Islam who pastored an independent house church of convert Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus, was killed by unknown assailants on 22 November. After his body was found outside his house, up to 10 other Christians in various cities were reportedly detained briefly by officials of the Ministry of Intelligence and may have been tortured. Christian leaders are also reported to have been warned to tell Protestant pastors of house churches that "the government knows what you are doing, and we will come for you soon". Ghorban Dordi Tourani is the fifth Protestant pastor to be killed by unknown assailants in 11 years.(23)
While the government is right to point out that there is no UNHCR directive against deporting people to Iran,any reasonable person would conclude that Christian converts from Islam face a significant risk of persecution. And against this backdrop, telling converts that they can simply keep their faith secret (as the RSAA has said in one case) is akin to telling Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany that they could just hide (and yes, before anybody squeals, I am quite aware that the Iranian government isn't rounding people up and sticking them in gas chambers).
Amnesty's argument is that if genuine Christian converts from Iran don't qualify for refugee status, the government should provide them with protection anyway rather than deporting them to that sort of persecution. I agree with that position. Christian converts face a significant risk of persecution in Iran, therfore we should not deport them there.