The media has been full of debate and discussion about the deportation of a convicted killer to Italy. I don't want to get into that debate, except to note that the consequences for Learco Chindamo of deportation to Italy would be relatively inconsequential when compared to the probable fate of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian, about whom there hasn't been a single column inch in the mainstream media.
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Her claim was rejected and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August 2007. She is scheduled for deportation to Iran on 27 August 2007.
If returned to Iran, she faces certain imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation - she was in a same-sex relationship.
Ms Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum, after her lover was arrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released but not before he had been tortured himself.
Ms Emambakhsh has a more than well founded fear of persecution if she is returned to Iran. She belongs to a group of people - gays and lesbians - who, it is well known, are severely persecuted in Iran.
According to Iranian human rights campaigners, many lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.
In 2006 a German court ruled that an Iranian lesbian could not be deported as she risked death because of her sexuality.
The UK Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) have chosen not to believe that she is in danger if returned to Iran, even though the UK government are well aware of the dangerous situation that gay people face there.
The BIA will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human rights violation if they insist on Ms Emambakhsh's deportation.
The Asylum Seeker Support Initiative in Sheffield are now getting Pegah new solicitors in order to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence and expert testimonies. A stay of deportation is needed to give Pegah time to prepare and submit this fresh claim.
Pegah's MP, Richard Caborn, has already won one stay of deportation and is working secure another postponement of deportation on 27 August.
You can help. Please write or email asap the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and to Pegah's British constituency MP, Richard Caborn (see details below).
Pegah Emambakhsh's Home Office reference number is: B1191057. This number must be quoted in any letter, so the Home Office can identify
and access her case.
Letters need to be sent TODAY by first class post to arrive tomorrow, Friday 24 August, at the latest. If you can't send a letter, a fax is a good alternative, and an email is certainly better than nothing. Mark all correspondence "For the persona attention of..."
Please write to:
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary,
2, Marsham St,
London SW1P 4DF
Fax no: + 44 (0) 207 035 3262 or +44 (0) 207 035 2362
Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP,
Sheffield Constituency Office
2nd Floor, Barkers Pool House
Sheffield S1 2HF
Fax: + 44 (0) 114 275 3944
Email link for Richard Caborn
Please don't let Pegah be quietly deported to face torture or death. Our letters can make all the difference.
In related news, the Daily Mail has a story, with photos, of the public flogging of 25-year-old Saeed Ghanbari, convicted under Iran's 'morality laws' of drinking alcohol and having sex outside of marriage.