Fearful Iranians seek passports
By Tom Spender
There has been a surge in applications for British passports from the borough's Iranian community in response to the fate of two Barnet-based refugees who are languishing in an Iranian jail.
Dr Rudi Vis, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said that the Foreign Office had not visited either Abrahim Khodabandeh, of Barnet, or Jamil Bassam, of Hendon, in jail in Iran because neither had chosen to take British nationality despite living in the borough for more than 30 years. They were arrested while visiting Syria last April and were flown back to Iran a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention on Refugees.
Now Dr Vis, who was born in Holland, said: "More people from Iran who are more British than I am are asking for British citizenship. They may want to go to countries neighbouring Iran such as Syria to meet up with families and friends."
A Foreign Office spokesman has said that the Government has no right to visit the men in jail in Iran because they are not British citizens.
But Mahmoud Tabrizi, a childhood friend of Mr Khodabandeh who lives in Mill Hill, said that passports were not the real issue.
"The Government could do something if it wanted to. It's a matter of humanity. These men have been living here for 30 years morally they have as many rights as any other citizen.
"The Foreign Office is choosing not to use the influence it claims to have."
The Government has said it is pursuing a policy of engagement with Iran, which it hopes will give it enough influence to try to persuade the Iranians to improve their record on human rights. http://www.barnettimes.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.473930.0.fearful_iranians_seek_passports.php
posted on 03/26/2004 10:22:10 PM PST
(Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
"They were arrested while visiting Syria last April and were flown back to Iran a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention on Refugees."
They've been in jail for a year....Iranian regime has nothing better to do than arrest people who left 30yrs ago during the Shah's reign?
posted on 03/27/2004 5:46:09 AM PST
("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ( President Bush 3-20-04))
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