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Sweden saves some money - sends trade unionist to torture in Iran

L-E Morin | 17.09.2005 18:56 | Repression | Workers' Movements

An Iranian trade union activist is to be deported to Iran. The Islamist government knows he is a fierce opponent, since an interview with him was broadcast in several countries. He was responsible for revealing the fact that the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was killed in an Iranian prison. The Swedish authorities refuse to have the interview translated: "too expensive".

Rabi Nikoo, trade union activist and asylum seeker in Sweden, is in danger of being deported to Iran with wife and two children. The Aliens’ Appeals Board (the highest level of immigration and refugee bureaucracy in Sweden) does not want to translate a document that will support his demand for asylum. In case he would be submitted to the Iranian government’s torture there is an obvious risk that they eventually force him to disclose sensitive information about Iran's illegal workers’ movement. His case now is widely published in Swedish media and arousing a lot of protests.

The largest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, says today (Friday) that Rabi Nikoo risks torture in Iran. He was contributing in a decisive way to the fact that Western news media could reveal that Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist, was tortured to death in an Iranian prison.

The regime’s knowledge about Rabi Nikoo’s participation in the publishing is confirmed, according to his legal representative Anna Enochsson, by a CD with an interview with Nikoo that has been broadcast in several countries. But the responsible official of Aliens’ Appeals Board says that it’s too expensive to translate the interview and that it does not contribute to the investigation of his demand for asylum.

- It’s of course expensive to carry out translations, but we do that if we have an opinion about what the document contains and how long it is, says Harriet Öhman of the Aliens’ Appeals Board to DN. She claims that Nikoo’s lawyer did not explain the contents.

The newspaper Socialisten recently interviewed Rabi Nikoo about his trade union activity in Iran. He informed its readers that he spent five years in prison for agitation against the regime - organizing strikes, boycotts and demonstrations among factory workers in Iran. If he is deported, other unionists also will stand a risk to be caught and jailed.

- I still have contacts with the Labor Movement in Iran and if I would be tortured they might force me to reveal the names of many underground activists, he said to Socialisten.

The organization SSU Facken (young social democrats of the trade unions) runs a campaign in order to stop the deportation of Rabi Nikoo.

In order to sign their petition for him, click here (put your name [Namn] and city [Ort] in the first 2 boxes, you can leave the rest blank.

On September 10 there were demonstrations in 27 Swedish cities demanding a general “amnesty” (permanent residence permit) for some 30,000 people waiting for a decision of asylum in Sweden or hiding underground after earlier deportation decisions. In these demonstrations the above mentioned petition was signed (on paper) by a big number of people.

Five out of seven parliamentary parties supported the demand for a general “amnesty”, originally coming from the archbishop and other main religious leaders in Sweden. One strong reason for this demand is a legal reform, that will abolish the Aliens’ Appeals Board next spring and transfer its capacities to the ordinary system of legal courts. The “amnesty” would rid the process of an enormous backlog that is threatening to drown the courts right from the start. However, on September 14 a majority of the parliament members voted against.

The social democrat (labour) party in the government agrees with their biggest opponents, the conservative party, that the demand for a general amnesty, being an exception, is a ”threat to legal justice”. Nevertheless, a few amnesties similar to this have already been realized in Sweden. In 1992, a decree created favourable rules for about 40,000 refugees from Bosnia, and in 1994 another “amnesty” opened for 18,000 refugees (families with children) who had been waiting since 1992 or longer for a decision. In 1996 and 1997, again, ex-Yugoslav refugees were given special rules of a similar kind.

Translated from the web site [non-copyrighted]. Background added for international readers.

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L-E Morin
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