The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.
While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.
Continue reading Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus
Iran arrests British-Iranian dual national as crackdown continues
- An Iranian prosecutor indicated through state media that an Iranian-British dual national had been arrested for links to British intelligence services.
- The official indicated that the arrest was a part of an ongoing crackdown against Western “infiltration,” which has ramped up in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.
- The arrest is at least the seventh of such dual nationals—whose non-Iranian citizenship the Iranian government does not recognize—arrested in the last year.
“Iran says it has detained a dual national linked to British intelligence” (Reuters)
“Iran accuses dual national of spying for British intelligence” (BBC)
“Iran arrests suspected British spy” (Bloomberg via The Toronto Star)
Iran executes gay teen for alleged rape
- In the Arak prison, the Iranian government executed Hassan Afshar, who was accused of rape by the parents of Afshar’s sexual partner.
- Afshar maintained that the sex, which took place when he was 17, was consensual, but Iran’s sodomy laws make it difficult to ascertain consent in same-sex sexual relations.
- International human rights organizations have expressed outrage at Iran’s practice of capital punishment for juveniles and for rape in opposition to international law.
“Iran: Hanging of teenager shows authorities’ brazen disregard for international law” (Amnesty International)
“Iran’s First Juvenile Execution of 2016 Was a Gay Teenager” (VICE News)
“Iran executes teenage boy for being gay” (PinkNews)
Executive pay leaks stir outrage in Iran
- Leaks of executive compensation at state-owned firms led to controversy when local media revealed some business leaders were receiving dozens of times the amount of pay the average Iranian household received.
- Iranian law dictates that the top government salary should not exceed seven times the amount of the lowest paid, but bonuses and additional incentives have at times been used to skirt that requirement.
- Four public bank chiefs have been fired in the wake of the revelations as Iranians continue to wait for the economic benefits of the lifting of international sanctions in 2015.
“Executive pay stirs outrage, becomes political issue in Iran” (Reuters)
“Iran sacks bank chiefs amid uproar over high salaries” (BBC)
“Four Iranian Bank Chiefs Fired Over Salaries Scandal” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Canadian-Iranian arrested in Iran as detentions of dual citizens continue
- Homa Hoodfar, an anthropology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran.
- Her family indicated that she had been detained and transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin prison on unspecified charges following extended interrogation.
- Iran, which doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, has imprisoned a growing number of dual nationals traveling from abroad in recent years under allegations of espionage and foreign collaboration.
“Canadian-Iranian professor arrested in Tehran by Revolutionary Guards” (The Guardian)
“Arrest of Homa Hoodfar in Iran Shines Light on Dangers for Dual Citizens” (The New York Times)
“Concordia University prof jailed in Iran’s Evin prison, family says” (CBC News)
(Image Credit: Amanda Ghahremani/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
Iranian pilgrims denied travel rights as diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues
- Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced that Iranians would not be allowed to make the annual trek to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
- Relations between the regional rivals have deteriorated in the wake of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, which led to violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Riyadh’s severance of diplomatic ties.
- In September 2015, hundreds of Iranians were among the thousands killed in a stampede in Mecca, and the continued absence of an official Saudi report has exacerbated tensions between the two countries.
“Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi” (Reuters)
“Iran pilgrims to miss Hajj amid row with Saudi Arabia” (BBC)
“Iranians will not perform Haj this year” (Gulf News)
(Image Credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
Iranian government releases five Americans as U.S. sanctions lifted
- Four of the released, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, were dual Iranian-American citizens released as part of a U.S.-Iran prisoner exchange.
- A fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately.
- The exchange comes as the U.S. lifts its sanctions as a part of its agreement with Iran to halt its nuclear development program.
“Iran Frees 4 Americans, Including Jason Rezaian, in Prisoner Swap” (The New York Times)
“Iran frees Post reporter Jason Rezaian, 4 other Americans, officials say” (The Washington Post)
“Iran separately releases fifth American: U.S. official” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post, via The New York Times)
Execution of Saudi Shiite leader sparks protests throughout the Middle East and South Asia
- From Saudi Arabia to India by way of Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, Shiite Muslims protested the Saudi government’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
- Nimr had been convicted of order followers to attack the police, a crime of “banditry” that carries an automatic death sentence.
- Before his arrest in 2012, Nimr had publicly called for nonviolent demonstrations to draw attention to the oppression of the minority Shia community in Saudi Arabia.
“Shi’ite Muslims worldwide decry execution of Saudi cleric” (Reuters)
“Protests in Kashmir, Bahrain and Pakistan over killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr” (The Guardian)
“Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Figurehead Shia cleric” (BBC)
(Image Credit: AFP, via BBC)
Fourth Iranian American reportedly detained in Iran
- Businessman Siamak Namazi has become the fourth American of Iranian descent detained in the country in recent years, according to Iranian media sources and personal associates.
- What Namazi has been accused of has not been made public, but reports allege he, like the other three Iranian Americans arrested, came under suspicion of Iran’s security forces.
- Dual citizens face vulnerability in Iran as the country does not recognize dual citizenship, making it easier for them to detain Iranian passport-holders without cause.
“Iranian-American Executive Arrested in Iran” (The Wall Street Journal)
“Another Iranian American arrested and imprisoned in Tehran” (Washington Post)
“Iran Is Said to Detain Another Iranian-American” (The New York Times)
Washington Post reporter convicted of espionage in Iran
- Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian faces up to 20 years in prison after the ruling, though the Post and Rezaian’s legal counsel are now working to appeal the verdict.
- Iranian state media alleged that Rezaian had come to Iran to expose Iranian businesses and individuals who were circumventing U.S. sanctions.
- Rezain was detained by Iranian authorities in July 2014, held without charge for months, and subjected to a legal process criticized by supporters and human rights groups as opaque and inhumane.
“Iran says Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian convicted” (AP)
“Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian Convicted In Iran” (BuzzFeed News)
“What you need to know about the Jason Rezaian trial” (Washington Post)
(Image Credit: Twitter photo, via BuzzFeed News)
Iranian human rights activist languishes in jail as sentence expires
- Bahareh Hadayat, an activist who spoke out on women’s rights issues and government suppression, was in and out of jail before being sentenced to sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail for threatening national security, insulting the supreme leader, and insulting then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- Many expected parts of Hadayat’s sentence to be commuted, but police threats and Hadayat’s continued activism from behind bars have diminished that prospect.
- Hadayat’s husband reports health complications have exacerbated the effects of Hadayat’s stay at the Evin prison, where around 18 other female political prisoners are held.
“The authorities have put pressure on us because of speaking out about Bahareh’s situation in jail. … They’ve threatened us, and have told her in jail that they’ll arrest me if we keep speaking out. They want to keep us silent.”
Read the full story at the Guardian.
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Guardian)
Iranian actor apologies after summoning by authorities following LGBT-supportive tweet
- Bahram Radan tweeted in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of nationwide same-sex marriage, leading to his summoning by Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.
- The reaction to the U.S. ruling highlights the division in Iranian society and the diaspora over LGBT rights, seeing online debate stirred after many added Facebook’s rainbow filter to their profile pictures in solidarity with the decision and many others condemned the action.
- Iran’s hardline conservative authorities have relaxed some punishments against homosexual acts, but they are still criminalized and treated as manifestations of mental illness.
“They’re afraid that people in Iran are beginning to talk about homosexuality as a sexual minority, not an illness, and they don’t want that to be normalised.”
Read the full story at the Guardian.
(Image Credit: Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua Press/Corbis, via The Guardian)
Advocates and sports federation officials express unease at Iran’s equivocation on easing of restrictions on women’s attendance at sports matches
- With Tehran set to host a world league volleyball match, the FIVB, the sport’s international federation, says it is committed to ensuring open, inclusive participation globally, though it has indicated no countermeasures should the Iranian government refuse.
- Last week, Iran’s VP for women and family affairs indicated that women’s attendance would be limited to family members of athletes in a select set of sports, considered by many to be capitulation to the country’s vocal conservatives.
- British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami was jailed for nearly five months for trying to attend a volleyball match, leading the FIVB to state that Iran would not be eligible to hold international championships until the ban was lifted.
“The situation has got worse in recent years and hardliners have become more extreme on this matter but on the positive side, more people are aware of our cause now than ever before.”
More on this story at The Guardian.
(Image Credit: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters, via The Guardian)
The NY Times has published a graphically enhanced look at the global migration crisis that is being called the worst since World War II
- 38 million have been displaced within their own countries, while 16.7 million refugees have fled internationally.
- Roughly 11 million Syrians and 3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced, while 4 million Syrians have left the country, straining the intake abilities of neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
- Approximately 25,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants have been trafficked via sea in Southeast Asia, some finding conditional acceptance in Indonesia and Malaysia and others being repatriated.
- To date, around 78,000 have traveled across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and Turkey, fleeing violence, persecution, and poor economic prospects in North, West, and East Africa.
- Finally, the conflict in Ukraine has displaced 1.3 million inside the country and sent 867,000 abroad, mostly to Russia with few European countries willing to accept them.
More on this story at The New York Times.
Israel nixes bus segregation plans, the U.K. takes strong stance against undocumented immigrant labor, Russian bill looks to criminalize abortion procedures, a British Muslim woman takes on ISIS through poetry, Ireland celebrates passing of same-sex marriage referendum, and 35 other stories in this week’s news rounds… Continue reading The Week’s Rounds