Interview on campaign to stop deportation of Ali Reza

Posted by admin on Jan 11th, 2005

Seven Oaks, 11 January 2005
Derrick O’Keefe

Ali Reza Monemi is an Iranian refugee facing deportation from Canada on Tuesday, January 11. Over the weekend Monemi was detained by Immigration Canada, while his family and supporters waged a hunger strike and rallied outside the government offices and detention center, campaigning for his release and for his right to stay in Canada.

Tammy Sadeghi spoke with Seven Oaks about Monemi’s case and the ongoing struggle of refugees against deportation. Sadeghi works with the Vancouver coordinator of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, which, together with the Coalition to Defend Iranian Refugee Rights and No One Is Illegal, has been working to defend the rights of refugees in Canada.

Could you tell us about Ali Reza Monemi?

Ali Monemi has been here for six years. His family has been here for ten years, and they are Canadian citizens who have all been working since they came here – even Ali. He was working at Sportmart, and he had a cleaning business, and he was a really good painter. He was working hard and being a good citizen.

Under what circumstances did he come from Iran to Canada?

When his family left Iran, he couldn’t leave because he was eighteen years old, and in Iran there is a rule that when you are eighteen you have to serve in the military for two years. They did not allow him to leave the country. After he finished his military service, his father tried to sponsor him and bring him here but his file got rejected.

Just last month, there was the case of the deportation of Haleh Sahba from Canada, who was jailed upon arrival in Iran. Could you explain Haleh’s case?

Haleh Sahba was here for six years. She was working. All her family is here, they are citizens – her parents, her sister, brother, everybody. But they deported her to Iran, and she was in custody until her family paid her cash bail to release her from custody. She’s now waiting for her trial in Iran. Now a similar case is happening here, with Ali, and he’s going to be deported tomorrow. He doesn’t have travel documents, which, by itself, endangers his situation if he goes back to Iran. And we don’t know what’s going to happen to him.

And Ali has faced torture before in Iran?

Yes, he got lashes before, 60 lashes, just simply for having a relationship with a woman. If he goes back, we don’t what’s going to happen. Lashes are a minimum thing you can get in Iran.

What do you think of the Canadian government’s role, which on one hand denounces the government of Iran for violating human rights, yet continues to deport people there?

I think this is a double standard. On one hand they condemn Iran for violating human rights, while they continue to send refugees back to that country. On the other hand, they easily allow entrance to Iranian government members, because they bring money here. And they get their landed immigrant status so easily. We see a lot of them here, they have mansions in West Vancouver or in Coquitlam.

As an exile yourself, what kind of social and political change do you hope to see in Iran, and how to think it is going to come about?

I feel that Iran is facing another Revolution. If you follow the news in Iran, you see that workers are on strike, students are rising up, and people are upset about this brutal government that we have there.

What are you encouraging the public to do, to protest against this deportation and others like it?

I think that, first of all, people should educate themselves about how racist the Canadian immigration system is. And secondly, we hope that people will please write to, or call, their MP, support Ali and his family to put pressure on Immigration Canada to stop this terrible deportation to Iran.

Comments are closed.