By Roberto Malini
Vahid Kiani Motlagh, a 32-year-old Iranian, arrested in France on 25 May 2009, is being held at the retention center at Saint-Exupery Airport, Lyon, where he risks imminent deportation to Iran.
Motlagh, who had lived for about 1 year as an illegal alien in Italy, was travelling with his French companion to Belgium where the two had planned to get married.
On 29 May, Lyon administrative court judge Peuvrel rejected Motlagh’s request for release from the center; that day, Motlagh, as refugee and asylum seeker, filed a request for humanitarian protection and asylum. Iran punishes homosexual acts with imprisonment, torture, and hanging. Based on Islamic law, homosexuals accused of “lavat” (sodomy) are arrested without any means for defense.
According to unofficial reports, Motlagh could be expelled from France within the next couple of days and deported to Iran. This violates the provisions of the Geneva Conference, the directives of the European Council (Tampere, 1999), and European Directive 83/29 April 2004—all documents that establish the inalienable right to receive protection or asylum and not to be deported to one’s country of origin or another country where such person would risk violation of basic human rights.
We, at Everyone Group, jointly with the Fondazione Luciano Massimo Consoli and Certi Diritti, which sounded the alarm, have asked the French government to immediately suspend Motlagh’s deportation procedure and release him from the retention center until his request for asylum has been decided. We have contacted Jean-Marc de la Sabliére, French ambassador to Italy, asking him to intercede with the French Minister of Immigration and with president Sarkozy; and we have forwarded a dossier of the case to António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Laura Boldrini, his spokesperson in Italy.
The right to asylum for refugees is also established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under art. 14 and by the European Union Charta of Fundamental Rights, texts upon which democracy and human rights are based. This is an incontrovertible right of all human beings and the duty of all countries to extend it to persons such as Vahid Kiani Motlagh who seek to escape violence and persecution.
We hope that Vahid and his companion will soon be able to re-unite and contract their marriage as planned, as well as to resume a normal life in a country that recognizes and protects their identity and their human dignity.