Belarusian authorities want to deport Iranian citizen facing death penalty at home

The Belarusian authorities have decided to deport a citizen of Iran Merhdat Jamshidiyan. At home he faces the death penalty.

“It was my mother’s birthday, she was 47 years old and father bought her roses,” said Diana Jamshidiyan showing a photo.

This is the last picture of Diana’s parents together. The girl’s father has been in prison for half a year already.

“It is very difficult and painful to look at our mother,” says Diana.

Iranian citizen Merhdat Jamshidiyan hass been living in Belarus for more than 20 years and, with the exception of the last two years, he had had registration. But for the last seven years Iran has been asking to give out the man, because he is suspected of murder. Until now, the Belarusian side refused to start extradition proceedings due to lack of conclusive evidence. If a man is found not guilty, he still faces the death penalty.

“I changed the faith, Islam for Christianity, it was in 2002,” Merhdat remembers.

Last June, the man was arrested for lack of Belarusian registration. Diana and her mother were not allowed to visit him.

“In the last couple of months, probably 3-4 months, the letters stopped, both ours to him and his to us. Our only connection was through letters. But now it is only through a lawyer,” said Diana.

The Ministry of Interior refused to give the man refugee status. Merhdat learned that last week a decision was taken to extradite him. In this case, the deportation of Merhdat to Iran is illegal.

“The Belarusian law “On legal status of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship” has Article 17.1, which says that you cannot be sent from the territory of Belarus to a country where the person may be at risk of torture and the death penalty,” explains Enira Branitskaya of the human rights organization Human Constanta.

Annually, a few hundred people ask for a refugee status in Belarus. But only a few people get it: the year before last the status was given only to a few people, while the petition was filed by over 700 people. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Ihar Shunevich, explained it this way two years ago:

“We do not have any urgent need to adopt a large number of refugees. There is no sufficient conditions to take in a large number of refugees.”

In addition, the legislation has a term “adverse countries in terms of migration”.

“There is no definition of it anywhere, there is no list of these countries, any additional applications of the law or any decisions on these countries are nowhere to be found. But it is the basis for refusal to issue an invitation,” says Enira Branitskaya of the human rights organization Human Constanta.

At the spring session, the Belarusian parliament will consider amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens. Experts hope that the concept of adverse country migration will be expunged.

Anastasia Kahanovich,

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