Against the Bosnian Governments Restriction

Maryam Namazie
Published in Hambastegi English
December 11, 2000

The Bosnian government has placed a visa restriction on Iranian citizens entering Bosnia in an attempt to prevent mass illegal migration into Europe.’ The chairman of Bosnia’s council of ministers stressed that the decision to impose visas was made at the request of the Iranian government. According to the United Nations mission to Bosnia, 12,323 Iranians arrived at Sarajevo airport this year and only 1,062 of them were recorded leaving the country.

Rather than condemn the visa restriction which further endangers asylum seekers and obstructs flight, the UNHCR spokesperson, Douglas Coffman, stated that: “The UN hopes that this decision [will] help stem the growing problem of illegal migration to Bosnia.” In its frenzy to be ‘useful’ after the end of the Cold War, the UNHCR is openly assisting governments in control, deportations and prevention of flight rather than protection.

The visa restriction is a clear attempt to prevent the Iranian refugee flow and legitimise the Islamic regime. By effectively closing an important escape route, the regime and its supporters hope to further promote their ‘reformist Islamic democracy’ propaganda vis-à-vis the reality of a repressive regime, which is the cause of one of the primary refugee flows in the world. There can be no cover up, however, as Iranians continue to flee to more tolerable and safer countries and to struggle in Iran for an end to the regime.

In the meantime, the UNHCR and the Bosnian government are duty-bound to ensure that those fleeing are given access to determination procedures, asylum and not deported. Calling asylum seekers, ‘illegal migrants,’ doesn’t end the responsibility and accountability of the UNHCR and governments.

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