Maryam Namazie
Published in Hambastegi English
June 20, 2001

For the past six months, Abbas Rezai and Ghafor Zarin, two Iranian Kurdish political activists, have been languishing in prison for ‘illegal entry’ into India. They have been beaten, shot at, wounded, and criminalized; they face a serious risk of deportation back to persecution. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in India has continually postponed making a decision on their claim and granting them protection.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, the UNHCR continues to refuse to address refugee living, medical, food, protection and resettlement needs. 500 women, men and children have been participating in a sit-in since June 3 in the hopes of pressuring the agency to finally address their human needs and legitimate demands.

On June 20, International Refugee Day, Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, addressing governments said: “Helping [refugees] and protecting them is a moral and legal obligation, rather than an optional act of charity.” Mr. Lubbers would do well to remind his staff and offices in Northern Iraq and India of their obligations too.

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