He’s conspicuous by his absence, isn’t he? Mehdi Kazemi is still in Rotterdam, awaiting deportation back to the UK under the Dublin Treaty, where Home Secretary Jacqui Smith still hasn’t granted him asylum. It appears that a Dutch MP has secured a parliamentary debate in the Netherlands to take place tomorrow, because he doesn’t believe Jacqui Smith can be trusted with his safety. Given that their Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Dublin Treaty supersedes Holland’s policy of not deporting gay asylum seekers back to Iran at all, it’s regrettable that his tactic looks likely to have little effect on the case, other than to lengthen Mehdi’s period of detention.
On the other hand, following on from a group of peers in the House of Lords publicly clamouring against his deportation to Iran and for an end to any deportations of asylum seekers to Iran, a group of MPs from all parties are doing likewise. Hopefully his support throughout the European Union will now make a deportation politically impossible for Smith, who has recently defended her department’s competence in this matter, despite its shortcomings, failings and institutional homophobia being widely acknowledged.
We should keep in mind as well the complicated attitudes which are driving the controversy about his fate. Scott Long of Human Rights Watch asserts that there have been no executions in Iran for just homosexuality since 2005. In this he is making the same two dangerous assumptions which George Galloway, Lord West of Spithead and others have made: that the Iranian theocratic regime can be believed when secondary charges like ‘child rape’ get added, and that the homosexuality of victims of Iranian state executions can’t be substantiated. This is a nonsense which even the Iranian regime doesn’t try to conceal, and which is well documented by Doug Ireland. And any of you still unsure about whether the famous executions of gay teens Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni (warning: link to strong images of their hanging) were based on any ‘legitimate’ grounds, please read this article. Why Long and especially the British Home Office can’t do such basic research themselves is beyond me.