The New World Order and refugee rights

Maryam Namazie
Opening speech at the tenth conference of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees
August 2, 2004
Koln, Germany

When I think of the New World Order and asylum rights, I see so many faces:

* I see 27-year old Ramin Khaleghi lying dead in his hostel room after being refused asylum in the UK.
* I see Ardeshir languishing indefinitely in an Australian detention centre; it’s been four years now with no hope of release. His name has been replaced by a number.
* I see Azita receiving a deportation order after the German government announced her transgression of the Islamic regime of Iran’s anti-women laws are a prosecutable offence and not persecution.
* I see Karim Tuzhali before an execution squad after having been deported from Turkey to Iran…

I see so many faces; 7 million of them have been warehoused for ten years or more. They are the nameless, faceless multitudes in flight from the New World Order and the war of terrorists (both USA-led and Islamic) – with nowhere to go. Closed borders, refusals, detention, deportation, racism, minoritism, cultural relativism, rightlessness, poverty and misery are what await them. They are the nameless, faceless victims and survivors of the New World Order. They are the consequences of the ‘liberations’ and wheeling and dealings with repressive states and movements like the Islamic regime of Iran.

And when asylum seekers try to reach safety, they become ‘terrorists, bogus, illegal, criminals and scroungers’. They are told ‘stay where you are’; ‘it’s safe’. ‘Respect your religion and your culture’. ‘It’s your fault’; ‘you should not have transgressed the laws of ‘your country’; ‘what you did was illegal’ – ‘why did you demonstrate’; ‘why did you throw off the veil’, ‘you shouldn’t have been a communist, an atheist; dissatisfied’… ‘Go back ‘home’ even if you have lived outside for a generation; just go back home’.

They have created a swamp in Iraq with innocent civilians caught between the USA-led violence on the one side and the decapitating Islamists on the other, and yet the numbers of Iraqi refugees are down 13% in 2003. Many countries have frozen Iraqi asylum claims. Iraq has been ‘liberated’ so they must go back home.

Iraq is truly the symbol of the New World Order.* And asylum seekers are the symbol of people’s rightlessness in the 21st century. We are familiar with the images of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghareib prison in Iraq. These are the same images of asylum seekers in Baxter and Woomera in Australia, Harmondsworth in the UK, Noes in Germany and Karselond in Sweden. Stripped naked, abused, blindfolded, faceless, nameless, dehumanised, and tied like animals.

And it is in this New World Order that you and I, the International Federation of Iranian Refugees and our movement have stood up and said to Western governments: recognise the UN Convention Regarding the Status of Refugees – even if it is no longer useful for you to show you are pro-human rights vis-à-vis an Eastern bloc – but that is not enough. That is no where enough. It is your responsibility.

It is in this world that we have said there are no bogus asylum seekers; all are genuine – even if they don’t fit in the little box you have created to meet your interests. It is in this world we have said every woman and girl fleeing political Islam has a right to asylum. Every human being who flees because s/he doesn’t want to live under barbarity, live under rules and norms, traditions, and cultures imposed by reactionary states and movements, because s/he want to live like a human being in the 21st century, has the right to asylum.

It is in this world we have defended universal rights and norms vis-à-vis western government which have imposed racism cultural relativism and lower standards for asylum seekers, migrants and ‘minorities’.

It is in this world where even many refugee rights advocates have shouted Islamophobia and racism for our critique of Islam and the political Islamic movements, we have stood up and said you cannot defend the victims of the New World Order without condemning and opposing its causes, including the Islamic regime in Iran.

While Western governments have daily taken back advances and reforms, it is we, along with others, who have fought for the slightest change and improvement in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees.

It is in this world of imposed barbarity that we have helped Mohammad Kalantari escape from a detention centre whilst the Swedish government was going to deport him to Iran. He now has refugee status and his approval letter states that it was a result of the IFIR’s support.

In Japan, Jamal Saberi who has been there for 14 years and was detained to be deported to Iran was released after our campaigning.

In Turkey, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that over 1000 Iranian refugees had to return to Iraq to be processed there as that was their first country of asylum, we said it is unsafe for them to return to Iraq. We said we would not stop campaigning until all were recognised. Some said we were being unrealistic; that it was impossible. Today they have refugee status.

In the UK, when Abbas Amini went on hunger strike and said he would die in protest to the UK Home Office’s refusal, we organised support for him and persuaded him to live. He now has asylum and is alive.

How many lives have been saved and changed because of the work of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees? How many laws have been changed or reforms brought about because of our work and that of others? How proud you must be and how proud I am to have stood with you over the past 8 years.

Of course much more needs to be done, nothing is ever enough for humanity. As a respected, influential and effective voice of asylum seekers, it is expected of us. We expect it of ourselves.

This conference – entitled the New World Order and Refugee Rights – is our call to step up the war on the New World Order, the USA and Western governments, on political Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran and the swamp they have created.

They aim to take the world back into the Middle Ages; we will force it into the 21st century.

* In a meeting with the executive committee of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Hamid Taqvaee, the leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran spoke extensively about this.

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