Mehdi Kazemi came to England to study in 2004 with the intention of returning to his homeland of Iran. In 2006 he learned that his boyfriend had been arrested and had named him as his partner before being hanged for sodomy.
An appeal to the UK government for asylum was turned down and he was detained at Tinsley House removal centre, near Gatwick Airport, to be deported to Iran. Faced with a possible death sentence, he travelled to Holland, where is now detailed and awaiting an appeal court decision on whether he will be allowed to stay there or be deported to the UK.
The Independent notes:
Last year, the Foreign Office released correspondence sent between embassies throughout the EU dating back to May 2005. They refer specifically to the case of two gay youths, Mahmoud Asqari, under 18 at the time of his execution, and Ayad Marhouni, who were hanged in public.
The Home Office’s own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians.
No doubt this story is being reported because of the need to build support for a war against Iran and cases of LGBT refugees being deported to other homophobic states will not get as much attention.
Note how a government minister hypocritically hijacked a solidarity protest for an imprisoned trade union leader in Iran:
(Thursday 06 March 2008)
BRITISH trade unionists demonstrated the international solidarity that underpins the labour movement on Thursday when they turned out in support of jailed Iranian busworkers’ leader Mansour Osanloo.
Rail workers leafleted commuters at major railway stations and other union members joined left colleagues at the Iranian embassy to voice their anger at the reactionary regime’s repression of Iran’s trade unionists – and in particular the horrific imprisonment and torture of Mr Osanloo, who has been savagely beaten in prison to the extent that he may lose the sight in one eye.
Trade unionists mobilised in Britain as part of a worldwide action day for Mr Osanloo, organised by the International Transport Workers Federation.
As RMT general secretary Bob Crow pointed out, “trade union rights are human rights.”
Unfortunately, as happens occasionally with campaigns organised by the left, some unsavoury extremist elements attached themselves to the protest – namely the vile Foreign Office Minister “Dr” Kim Howells.
In a self-important press release from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Howells claimed to “share the international concerns about the growing repression and severity of action taken against labour rights activists who work tirelessly to defend the rights of workers in Iran.”
He urged Iran to “respect fully the right to form or join trade unions, in accordance with its commitments as a member of the International Labour Organisation and the international human rights conventions it has ratified.”
Oh dear. Would this be the same Kim Howells who was pictured on the FCO website in February grinning all over his face alongside Colombia’s High Mountain Brigades – a particularly nasty bunch of state-backed paramilitaries notorious for the rape, murder and torture of Colombian trade unionists?
At the time, Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley pointed out that “Colombia is the world’s leading slaughterhouse for trade unionists and it defies belief that British ministers should be cuddling up – literally, judging by the photographs – with the perpetrators.”
Would this be the same Kim Howells whose government persists in handing over no-strings military aid to Colombia’s far-right Uribe government, which then uses its ordnance to slaughter labour rights activists who “work tirelessly to defend the rights of workers” and ensures that Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist?
And would this be the same Kim Howells who nauseatingly sucked up to Saudi despot King Abdullah during his shameful state visit in October 2007, making the incredible claim that Britain and the medieval Islamist autocracy enjoy “shared values”?
Presumably those values also include the repression of trade unions, since they are banned in Saudi Arabia by “royal decree” and Britain persists in refusing to grant unions rights in accordance with International Labour Organisation standards.
With this, as with so many other things, Howells and his cronies seem to take Margaret Thatcher and her retrograde attitudes as a template for their own foul behaviour.
After all, Thatcher was deeply enthusiastic about free trade unions back in the 1980s – just so long as those unions were in Poland.