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  • Iranian boy 'very happy' as family wins battle to stay in Canada

    The parents of a Canadian boy who, with them, was held for nearly six weeks at a controversial U.S. immigration facility this year, were granted an "approval in principle" for permanent residence in Canada yesterday.

    The decision to allow Kevin Yourdkhani's parents to stay was based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and made in the best interests of their 10-year-old son, their lawyer said.

    "Approval in principle is the difficult step to meet and that normally takes two or three years," Andrew Brouwer said. "The remaining step is to do the security, criminality and medical screening ... and I don't anticipate any problems with that."

    Majid Yourdkhani and Masomeh Alibegi could become permanent residents as early as next month. "I'm very happy now because my mom and my dad is happy," Kevin said yesterday.

    The decision marks a new beginning for the family who, just months ago, had found themselves in international limbo.

    Mr. Yourdkhani and Ms. Alibegi initially fled Iran for Canada in 1995 to seek political asylum. In 1997, the couple's only son, Kevin, was born. He attended a Toronto school until Grade 3, when his parents' refugee claim - based on fear of persecution in Iran - was denied, and the family was deported in December, 2005.

    Upon their arrival in Tehran, Mr. Yourdkhani said, he was taken away from his family to a prison cell, where he was detained, beaten and tortured for three months.

    Once he was released, friends helped the family connect with a people smuggler in Tehran, who said he would help them get back into Canada.

    On the last leg of their trip, their flight made an unscheduled stop on U.S. soil because of a medical emergency, and they were found to be travelling on fake passports. They were held at a Texas detention centre from Feb. 12 to March 21.

    The facility was the subject of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the family was being held in "inhumane conditions."

    After a flurry of media coverage on the family's situation, including a letter Kevin wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper describing his cell, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley issued the parents a six-month, renewable temporary resident permit, three days after the U.S. government declared it had sufficient reason to believe the family faced a credible risk of persecution if returned to Iran.

    Since their return to Canada, Mr. Yourdkhani has been working on a temporary work visa at a pizza parlour. But the approval in principle means he and his wife are eligible to apply for an open work permit, allowing them to work for most employers in Canada while they await final approval for permanent residence.

    Meanwhile, Kevin returned to school in September after nearly two years away. But, he said yesterday, children at his old school were taunting him about his family's ordeal, and he had to change schools.

    "It wasn't so good. They keep bothering me. They say, 'Kevin, you was really a bad guy? You was in jail? What did you do? What did your parents [do]?' " he said.

    He says he is happy at his new school and likes his teacher.

    "It's way better. Nobody knows about ... anything that happened. I can relax a little bit. I have got some new friends."


    • Asylum-seekers 'are left to starve' in Britain

      Thousands of people are forced to spend years living in abject poverty on the streets of Britain's cities after fleeing persecution in their own countries, an independent asylum inquiry has heard. The destitute have no access to help from the state as they have not been granted asylum, yet they prefer to stay in Britain rather than return home because they fear of being tortured or killed.

      Senior lawyers, doctors and immigration officials even claim such destitution is, in effect, now being used by the Government as policy, in an attempt to force desperate people out of the country.

      There are at least 280,000 people living in poverty in Britain after having their leave to remain refused. Some of them are appealing those decisions. Some just go completely underground, taking their chances on the streets of the UK with no money or shelter.

      Living on the margins, these outcasts have been "failed" by the place where they thought they would be safe, the inquiry was told. Many sleep rough; few have access to the healthcare that UN legislation says they have a right to. Sir John Waite, a former High Court judge and chair of the Independent Asylum Commission that will report to the Government next year, said: "I think it's a serious omission that we haven't looked earlier at this very pressing problem. There is a significant element of the population subsisting while awaiting hearings or asylum claims, especially after rejection. And some of them are suffering serious hardship either because they don't understand the system or because the system fails them."

      The Commission met last week in Manchester to hear evidence from immigration experts as well as direct testimonies from those who had experienced the struggle of surviving in the UK first-hand. They described the extremes of poverty they suffered while living in fear of returning to their countries of origin.

      In an impassioned plea to the Commission, Iranian Afshin Azizian, whose asylum case is still undecided after 12 years, said: "Thousands and thousands of asylum seekers have been made destitute. I ask those in the Home Office to think, if you were to spend one day in my shoes how would you like to be treated? We never had much of a voice until recently. If you don't have a piece of paper from the Home Office you're not considered human. How can you call yourselves civilised?"

      The 36-year old, who was beaten by Revolutionary Guards in Iran, fled after his activist friends were brutally tortured by the regime. Until recently he was sleeping rough, before finding sanctuary in a monastery. Sleeping everywhere from laundrettes to parks, he said that his living conditions had been better in Iran. "I was not poor in Iran – I did not come here for your money but I was seeking refuge. I would never have believed that one day I would be starving for food, and I would never have imagined that people would get this kind of treatment in this country. We're human beings. You signed the [European] Convention on Human Rights: do you not respect your own signature?"

      Financial support is cut off after 21 days for those without children whose asylum case has been rejected. Immigration experts have called this a "deliberate tool" to rush people out of the country, often before enough evidence has been collated to ensure the safety of their return.

      Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee Action, condemned the country's treatment of failed asylum seekers: "It seems the Government is using destitution as an instrument of policy. It's no accident. It's very much a deliberate tool of government. It's morally unacceptable to force people into utter destitution, and the most desperate and degrading circumstances when people are frightened of what awaits them when they return home.

      "Destitution is an unworkable policy that has completely failed to deliver on its objectives," he added. "It means the Government loses contact with asylum seekers. Each day they are destitute, the chances of return become more remote."

      Ruth Heatley, an immigration solicitor, said that part of the problem was in the phasing out of Exceptional Leave to Remain, a policy that used to grant temporary residency to those whose safety in their home country was still in question. In 2002, one in four initial asylum cases was granted this temporary permission; by 2005 this had been reduced to just one in ten.

      "This is wrong and inhumane, and the policy doesn't work: people would rather face destitution than persecution," she said.

      Dr Angela Burnett, who was at the hearing representing Medact, which campaigns to improve health worldwide, said healthcare provision for many asylum seekers was so poor that it broke UN conventions.

      "Torture survivors are being denied access to healthcare due to an inability to pay. This contravenes the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by the UK, which obliges states to provide as full a rehabilitation as possible to torture survivors," she said, adding that thedifficulty of understanding a labyrinthine set of regulations meant that even those eligible for healthcare missed out.

      "The complexity of the current and proposed rules means that some people who do have full entitlement to free healthcare, such as people who have active asylum claims, have erroneously been excluded or charged."

      The Independent Asylum Commission is conducting a nationwide review of the UK asylum system and will present a report to the Government in 2008. Last week's hearing in Manchester, was the sixth of seven nationwide hearings and was specifically aimed at tackling the issue of poverty amongst asylum seekers and refugees.

      Mary Namkussa: 'It was like being an animal'

      Mary Namkussa fled Uganda after she was raped and beaten by soldiers hunting for rebels. Her brother-in-law had been a rebel, but she had not known.

      After months of being held captive and repeatedly raped by soldiers, the 40-year-old mother of two was released and pushed out of a car on to the road. She tried to resume life as normal in the pharmacy she owned with her husband, but her home was raided and her husband disappeared.

      When she escaped to England in 2003, her Home Office interview was delayed as she was being operated on for internal injuries caused by being raped. Her solicitor asked the GP for a medical report, but he never sent it, and the Home Office refused her entry. At an appeal hearing in 2005 she had a medical report, but again she was denied asylum. She was left homeless and penniless, and for two and a half years she has survived on Red Cross food parcels.

      "It is difficult for me to put into words how I feel about being destitute," she said. "I think living the life of a destitute person is like living like an animal, not a human being."

      "If I was returned I'm sure I would be targeted. Who will help me? I'm not a public figure or significant, so no one from the West would help me if I was imprisoned. I would like to be able to work so that I can do something instead of just roaming or sitting still. I used to work, I am not disabled, I am an educated and hard-working woman. I can use my brain.

      "I think about my children, my family and my position every day, and every day I cry."


      • i believe iranians shouldnt immigrate to a different country, but if for any reason they do so, they shouldnt choose the usa, the usa has an atmosphere which takes away peoples cultural heritage, characteristics and everything that involves their cultur and replace it with the WESTERN system.
        the most suitable country would be UK because of the wide islamic or multicultural surrounding.
        Vote Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf


        • I agree. immigration is brainwash. unless you're forced out of Iran, I see no reason for immigration. such immigrants are shown to have a multitude of identity, health and social problems.

          OR, if one immigrates, it should be clearly temporary and one should be constantly planning to go back and live in Iran as soon as possible. Its best for one's own dignity, health, prosperity etc, and its good for the future of our country.
          Last edited by zubin; 10-30-2007, 12:41 PM.
          Take him and cut him out in little stars,
          and he will make the face of heaven so fine,
          that all the world will be in love with night,
          and pay no worship to the garish sun

          - Shakespeare

          "In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny." - JS Mill


          • Iranian Jews slam 'emigrant stunt'

            The well-publicized landing of 40 Iranian Jews in Israel on Tuesday spurred glee among some Israelis and the immigrants themselves and drew public scorn from a surprising quarter in Iran -- two officials from its centuries-old Jewish community.

            One of them described the emigration as a "misinformation" campaign and defended their lives under the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

            The arrival in Israel was publicized as the largest single group to arrive in Israel from Iran since Iran's Islamic Revolution, and the immigrants traveled via an undisclosed third country. Other Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel over the years.

            Anti-Semitism has been a worldwide phenomenon for centuries and the state of Israel became a homeland for Jews to escape anti-Semitic persecution.

            The group that sponsored the immigration is the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, based in Chicago. It says it wants to help Jews flee such persecution. The group receives money from evangelical Christians.

            Its founder, Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, believes Iranian Jews face dangers, citing the words of Ahmadinejad, who has urged Israel's destruction but not by military means.

            There has been great criticism of Ahmadinejad by Jews across the globe for his remarks about Israel, for the government's stance toward Israel, and for the regime's sponsorship of a recent Holocaust denial seminar.

            Eckstein said immigrants received $10,000 each because they left behind possessions to go to Israel.

            Noting the evangelical support from his group, Eckstein, in fact, believes it's no "coincidence" that the people came to Israel on Christmas Day, which Eckstein describes as "kind of a Christmas present to these folks from Christians in America who seek to tell Israel and the Jewish people that they're not alone."

            The immigration comes at a time of great tension between Iran, whose president stoutly rejects the Jewish state's existence, and Israel, which asserts that Iran is funding terrorism, has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, and is intent on destroying the Jewish state.

            But the account of the mass immigration was vehemently disputed among Jewish officials in Tehran who defend Jewish life there.

            The man representing Iranian Jews in Iran's parliament on Wednesday disputed the notion of an organized immigration of Iranian Jews to Israel, saying he would have known about such a development.

            Iranian MP Morris Motamed told CNN that he and Ciamak Morehsadegh, the director of the Tehran Jewish Community, had issued a statement condemning the spread of false news about an evangelical organization facilitating the immigration of 40 Iranian Jews to Israel.

            Iranian Jews can travel anywhere they want, anytime they want, but like other Iranians they are not allowed to go to Israel, Motamed said.

            Even with that, some Iranian Jews may decide to travel to and from Israel via a third country to visit their families or to visit for religious reasons.

            However, Motamed called the news a "misinformation" campaign aimed at creating an atmosphere of distrust between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Iran. He said it is meant to make Iranian Jews feel unsafe and vulnerable in their own country.

            He said that before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian Jews numbered more than 100,000, but like other minorities their numbers diminished because of immigration.

            He said almost 95 percent of Iranian Jews went to the United States and as a result there is now quite a sizable Iranian Jewish community there. The remaining 5 percent, he said, went to Europe and Israel.

            There are as many as an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Jews remaining in Iran, the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel, according to CNN's Shirzad Bozorghmehr.

            The U.S. State Department's 2007 report on religious freedom says the Iranian government's "rhetoric and actions created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shi'a religious groups, most notably for Baha'i's," who are based in the Israeli city of Haifa. It also cites "Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, and members of the Jewish community."

            Jews by Iranian constitutional law have the right to practice their religion and "with some exception," there has been scant government restriction and interference with religious practices, the report said.

            However, "members of these recognized minority religious groups have reported government imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on their religious beliefs."

            Jewish education has been tougher to carry out, there has been a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric, and assaults on two synagogues, the report said. Their contact with or support for the state of Israel has been squelched "out of fear of reprisal."

            "Recent anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations included the denunciation of Jews, as opposed to the past practice of denouncing only 'Israel' and "Zionism," adding to the threatening atmosphere for the community," the report said.

            In the Islamic Republic's Jewish community, there is a different view from voices emerging.

            Morehsadegh described the Jewish community in Tehran as alive and well, with 20 synagogues, more than eight butcher shops, two restaurants, and four youth groups.

            "There is no doubt that the Holocaust happened," he said. "But we disagree with the superpowers who have misused this incident to their own benefit."


            • Immigration officials alerted

              Police have alerted immigration services after three Iraqis and an Iranian were spotted jumping out of a transport trailer at an industrial park.

              The four males, aged between 16 and 24, were discovered at Holmewood Industrial Park, on Park Road, near Chesterfield, about 9.40pm, on Tuesday January 15th.

              Officers were called out to the industrial park and the men were handed over to the Home Office immigration services to assess their status and to consider further action including deportation.


              • تعداد ایرانیان خارج از کشور از 2میلیون و 700 هزار تا 3میلیون و 500 هزار نفر برآورد شده که این تعداد در حدود 32 کشور جهان هستند و عمده این افراد در آمریکا حضور دارند. در سال*های گذشته نوعی بدبینی نسبت به ایرانیان خارج از کشور وجود داشت مبنی بر اینکه این ها همگی فراری و ضد انقلابند و این در حالی است که تنها شاید حدود یک درصد از ایرانیان خارج از کشور چنین وضعی داشته باشند.
                سید علی ریاض نماينده مردم تهران و رییس فراکسیون پیگیری امور ایرانیان خارج از کشور در مجلس شوراي اسلامي در گفتگو با «جهان» ضمن ارائه گزارشی از عملکرد این فراکسیون بیان داشت: این فراکسیون برای اولین بار در مجلس هفتم حاصل حرکتی برای حمایت و پیگیری ایرانیان خارج از کشور است.

                رییس فراکسیون ایرانیان خارج از کشور، تلاش براي زنده نگه داشتن هویت دینی و ملی ایرانیان، حمایت از آنان در مسایل حقوقی و کنسولی، مشارکت دادن در امور توسعه کشور به عنوان یک ظرفیت ایرانی و همچنین تسهیل و تعمیق بخشیدن به روابط ایرانیان داخل و خارج از کشور را از مهمترین رویکردهای این فراکسیون دانست و اضافه کرد: این روابط دیپلماتیک نیست، بلکه یک روابط مردم محور است.

                رياض خاطر نشان کرد: این فراکسیون در بهمن 83 در مجلس شورای اسلامی اعلام موجودیت کرد که دارای هیئت رییسه و 4 کارگروه کاری است.

                وي همچنین گفت: در همین رابطه ملاقات هایی هم با حدادعادل و آیت الله هاشمی شاهرودی صورت گرفت که در دیدار با ایشان بر این نکته تاکید شد که امنیت این افراد باید تامین شود، مگر اینکه جرمی داشته باشند که در این صورت این قانون برای هر شخص دیگری حتی در داخل کشور نیز قابل اجراست.

                نماینده مردم تهران در مجلس شورای اسلامی افزود: در سال*های گذشته نوعی بدبینی نسبت به ایرانیان خارج از کشور وجود داشت مبنی بر اینکه این ها همگی فراری و ضد انقلابند و این در حالی است که تنها شاید حدود یک درصد از ایرانیان خارج از کشور چنین وضعی داشته باشند.

                ریاض تصریح کرد: بسیاری از ایرانیان در خارج از مرزها افتخار آمیز هستند و ما به بسیاری از آنها افتخار می کنیم.

                وی اظهار داشت: هجرت یک جریان تکوینی است و امروزه در تمام دنیا و حتی در امریکا هم وجود دارد، لذا نمی شود به همه ایرانیان مقیم خارج از کشور نگاه منفی داشت.

                رییس فراکسیون ایرانیان خراج از کشور اذعان کرد: بنا بر تحقیقاتی که در این فراکسیون صورت گرفته است دید ایرانیان خارج از کشور نسبت به ایران بسیار مثبت است و ایرانیان مقیم همچنان ریشه ایرانی و دینی و مذهبی خود را محکم نگه داشته اند و علی رغم اینکه زمان زیادی از مهاجرت آنها می گذرد، ولی همچنان دلشان برای موطن خود می*تپد و این امر خصوصا در نسل سوم آنها که در خارج از ایران متولد شدند به طور بارز دیده می شود که یک رنگ و بوی بازگشت و رجعت به خود گرفته است و ما هم با آغوش باز به این قضیه نگاه می کنیم و این فراکسیون برای همین کار تشکیل شده است.

                ریاض در خصوص اقدامات انجام گرفته توسط این فراکسیون نیز گفت: تعامل بسیار خوبی با شورای عالی ایرانیان در دولت داشته ایم؛ چراکه دولت یک نهاد اجرایی است و اگر قرار باشد ما ساز و کار جریانی را تعیین کنیم باید از مسیر دولت و خصوصا دستگاه دیپلماسی اقدام شود.

                وی ادامه داد: بحث آسیب شناسی*ها و مشکلات ایرانیان خارج از کشور را شروع کرده ایم تا با شناخت این مشکلات به اولویت بندی آنها اقدام کنیم.

                ریاض تصریح کرد: خیلی از این مسایل تنها با یک هماهنگی ساده قابل حل است، مانند مشکل نظام وظیفه که با اقداماتی که انجام گرفت، ساز و کاری در نظر گرفته شد و تقربیا این مشکل برطرف شد.

                رییس فراکسیون ایرانیان خارج از کشور گفت: دیدارهایی هم در خارج از کشور با ایرانیان داشته ایم و در آنجا هم مواضع خود را اعلام کردیم که مورد استقبال قرار گرقت و آنها نيز گفتند براي خدمت به كشور اعلام آمادگی كردند.

                رياض افزود: ما آمادگی داریم تا از این ظرفیت*ها براي هرگونه سرمایه گذاری و مشارکت در توسعه ملی دعوت کنیم و البته بسیاری از آنها اقدامات لازم را انجام داده و در حال شروع به کار هستند.

                وي ادامه داد: یکی از کارهایي که در شورای عالی ایرانیان در دولت روی آن بحث کردیم این است که یک ساز و کار آماری و سنجش جمعیتی را در دست داشته باشیم و در تلاش هستیم تا آن را اجرایی کنیم.

                نماینده مردم تهران همچنین بیان داشت: تعداد ایرانیان خارج از کشور از دو میلیون و هفتصد هزار نفر تا سه میلیون و پانصد هزار نفر برآورد شده است که این تعداد در حدود 32 کشور جهان پخش هستند که عمده این افراد در امریکا حضور دارند.

                وی پیشنهاد طرح کنسول افتخاری را یکی دیگر از اقدامات این فراکسیون اعلام کرد و گفت: در برخی شهرها ایرانیان از کنسولگری دورند و برای رفتن به آنجا باید راه زیادی بروند و یا هزینه زیادی پرداخت کنند که با این پیشنهاد با استفاده از حقوقدانان متخصص و واجد شرایط به عنوان کنسول افتخاری در آن شهرها هم این مشکل حل می شود و هم هزینه های وزارت خارجه کاهش می یابد.

                ریاض افزود: مجلس هفتم به فکر همه ایرانیان چه در داخل کشور و چه در خارج بوده و ما توانستیم در این مورد به صورت عملی وارد شویم و همانطور که به مسایل مردم در داخل کشور بپردازیم، باید مشکلات ايرانيان خارج از كشور* را هم در نظر بگیریم؛ چرا كه همه ايرانيان به صرف ايراني بودن قابل احترام هستند.


                • A bill that would allow police to seize cars from illegal immigrants was approved by the House Thursday.

                  Bill sponsor Rep. James Mills (R-Gainesville) repeatedly told House members Thursday the measure would protect Georgia citizens from the "epidemic" of illegal immigration. "The state of Georgia's door is being kicked down," Mills said. Immigrants are coming from "Iraq, Iran, Irania, Jordan. We don't know where they're from," Mills said.

                  The measure passed 104 to 51, and will move to the Senate for consideration.

                  The bill would allow police to seize any vehicle involved in a traffic violation or accident if it's driven by an illegal immigrant. That includes rented and leased vehicles if the owner knew, or should have known, the driver was an illegal immigrant. It also includes bank-owned cars if the interest-holder actually knew the driver was an illegal immigrant.

                  The bill prompted a healthy floor debate. Some legislators asked how police would be able to determine whether a driver was an illegal immigrant during a traffic stop. Some wondered if it would create an atmosphere for racial profiling of drivers who police think might be illegal immigrants. Rep. Bob Lane (R-Statesboro), who represents rural south Georgia, worried farmers would lose their vehicles if they lent them to workers who might be illegal.

                  "Would you have to go down to the police station and say, 'I didn't know this person was an illegal immigrant, and I lent him the car to go down to the store to get some grass seed?'" Lane asked.

                  The vehicle seizure would work much the same way as property seizures in drug cases. But under the bill, if the owner of the vehicle presents a sworn affidavit that he or she did not know the driver was an illegal immigrant, they would get their car back, Mills said.

                  The legislation is part of a package of about 10 Republican proposals introduced this legislative session aimed at discouraging illegal immigration in Georgia.


                  • Deportation could mean death for Bahareh Moradi - Immigration New Zealand is ordering the 25-year-old Iranian Christian back to Iran within the next two weeks.

                    It is refusing to wait for a High Court judicial review of her appeal for refugee status, or for the Iranian embassy to issue her a passport.

                    Three of Miss Moradi’s brothers and their families have already been granted refugee status and are living in Auckland.

                    One of those brothers, Hamid Moradi, says his sister is being denied her rights and sent into danger.

                    Converting to Christianity is – under Sharia law – an offence punishable by death.

                    "I can’t believe this, that this could happen in New Zealand – one of the most democratic countries in the world," says Mr Moradi, a Birkenhead resident.

                    "They have to let us talk at the High Court. They just have to let us talk.

                    "It is our last chance."

                    Miss Moradi’s first application for refugee status was declined in 2006.

                    She appealed that decision to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, with the support of her family and her pastor.

                    That was denied in December 2007 in a decision that called her conversion to Christianity into question.

                    The family then spent $5000 hiring a lawyer to apply for a judicial review in the High Court.

                    Because Immigration New Zealand will not wait for its result, the family is now spending another $2500 to try for an injunction on Miss Moradi’s deportation orders.

                    Mr Moradi is upset the organisation is deporting his sister when it lists a judicial review as a right on its website.

                    "If they believe we had no right to go to the High Court then why did they let us pay $5000?

                    "I want a guarantee the review can go ahead even if she is in another country."

                    His sister has refused to sign removal papers, but has signed an application for an Iranian passport.

                    "I do not understand why they would not wait even for her to get a passport," says Mr Moradi.

                    "This way she can’t go to any countries except for Iran."

                    Rinny Westra is Miss Moradi and Mr Moradi’s pastor at St Aiden’s Presbyterian Church in Birkenhead.

                    He testified to the genuineness of her conversion at her first appeal and is protesting her deportation orders.

                    "She’s a Christian and her life is in danger if she goes back.

                    "There seems to be something very negative towards Iranian Christians."

                    The Department of Labour, which oversees Immigration New Zealand, is not commenting on the case because it is before the courts.

                    Its official statement reads:

                    "The department is unable to comment on a specific matter before the courts. By way of general information, lodging of judicial review proceedings is not a bar to removal.

                    If an individual wishes to stop removal action pending determination of such proceedings, they
                    can seek orders to that effect from the court. Miss Moradi has not sought such orders."

                    Miss Moradi was a student before she came to New Zealand, and has trained as a hairdresser.


                    • For allowing two Iranians to enter and leave the country through Mactan using fake passports, the Ombudsman ruled to dismiss from government service the Central Visayas director of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

                      Regional Director Geronimo Rosas faces dismissal for grave misconduct.

                      Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez approved the recommendation of graft investigator Nelia Lagura to impose the penalty of dismissal.

                      Rosas’ legal counsel Francis Pepito yesterday said the Dec. 27 decision of the Ombudsman was not yet final until she rules on their motion for reconsideration.

                      “We are confident we can get the decision reversed,” he said after filing the motion last week.

                      Rosas was the subject of a 2006 complaint filed by two employees in his office Dilausan Montor and Imra-Ali Subdullah.

                      They said Rosas along with BI security guards Elmer Napilot and Ramon Ugarte connived in the handling of the two Iranaian nationas.

                      Based on the case record, on Dec. 7, 2004, Iranian nationals Jafar Saluti Taromasari and Jaliel Shokr Pour Ziveh were allowed entry in the country through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) using tampered Italian and Mexican passports.

                      They were allowed to leave for Narita, Japan on Dec. 16, 2004 but the discovery of the fake passports by Japanese immigration authorities resulted in their being sent back to Mactan. Upon arrival, they were brought to the BI office and detained.

                      Three days after the two foreigners were “unlawfully” released although as Iranians they were “restricted” aliens who should have been investigated as a potential threat to national security.

                      In his defense, Rosas said he had no prior information about the entry and exit from the Mactan airport of the Iranians using counterfeit passports.

                      He said the duty to inspect aliens lies with the Immigration Officers under head supervisor Casimiro Madarang.

                      He said the two aliens returned from Japan using Iranian passports and had no derogatory record based on records of the Iranian embassy.

                      In a 14-page decision, Ombudmsan Gutierrez said Rosas was guilty of grave misconduct because the release of the two Iranian nationals “was tainted with irregularity and inconsistent with existing law.”

                      The Ombudsman said Rosas’ defense was “flawed and self-serving.”

                      The right thing to do then was to have filed deportation and criminal charges, said the decision. Allegations that the two aliens were “terrorists and involved in human smuggling” were unproven.

                      Nevertheless, Rosas should have been more careful and had them investigated by the Intelligence Division to make sure they were not threats to national security, said the Ombudsman.

                      Rosas was earlier embroiled in a conflict with Cebu City Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro who was detailed at the BI-7 n August, 2006.

                      He complained that a woman was doing a “demolition job” to unseat him by sending false expose reports to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

                      He didn’t name the woman but it was well understood in the office he was referring to Castro.


                      • Germain Naruhana from DR Congo told officials his father was beheaded by political opponents after the family spoke out against abuses. He lost contact with his wife and children and fled to Europe. But when he pleaded for political asylum in Britain, a judge told him his story was not credible.

                        Afshin, an Iranian, waited five years for an asylum decision and got a refusal. “If someone told an Iranian that in a Western country they treat you like this, they would not believe you,” he said.

                        Shoherah Mohammad from Somalia found it nearly impossible to get legal help.

                        “I was running around not knowing where I was going,” she said. “The only thing going through my head was, ‘Coming to the UK was a really big mistake’.”

                        Few things in Britain generate more heat than incomers. Many people do not know the difference between asylum seekers and immigrants (legal or illegal), and surveys show that the average person hugely over-estimates the number of foreigners in the country and the benefits they receive.

                        Asylum seekers

                        A report by the Independent Asylum Commission last week declared that the UK’s treatment of asylum seekers falls “seriously below” the standards of a civilised society and was a blemish on the nation’s reputation.

                        “We are a country with a basic instinct for fair play,” said Sir John Waite, co-chairman of the Commission, “but fair play is being denied to asylum seekers because of a culture of disbelief and a lack of resources.”

                        Destitution was visited on some appellants to try to force them out of the country, the report said, while officials’ decisions were often perverse and unjust.

                        Further confusion entered the debate when an influential House of Lords committee declared that the economic advantages of immigration were far less than the government claimed.

                        Migration has risen dramatically since 2004 with the expansion of the European Union to include eight new countries. The net increase in migrant numbers is 190,000 per year and Minister Liam Byrne says migration added £6 billion to the economy in 2006.

                        The Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee argued that immigration in fact had “little or no impact” on the economic wellbeing of Britons – competition for jobs resulted in a negative impact on the lowest paid and contributed to rising house prices.

                        What did not seem to be in doubt was that migrants, mostly from Eastern Europe, had a better work ethic than their native counterparts.

                        The food giant Sainsbury’s told the Lords that their superior work ethos, efficiency and dependency was even rubbing off on their British workmates.


                        I am of that group of generally ageing cyberphobics who own a mobile phone but hope nobody ever calls me on it. Of course, that makes me part of a tiny minority. Practically everybody else in Britain is a mobile enthusiast, children included, and many people have two – one for work and one for home.

                        So wedded to their phones are they that there is a new disease, “nomophobia,” a stress condition caused by not having access to their cellphone. These people – there are 13 million of them – break out in a sweat if they get to work and discover they left their phone at home or feel a wave of nausea when they realise the battery is about to run out.

                        Stress levels caused by being out of contact are equal to exam-day jitters and trips to the dentist.

                        Stewart Fox-Mills of the Post Office said, “Being out of mobile contact may be the 21st century’s latest contribution to our already hectic lives.”

                        Which seems odd since the most important conversations I overhear consist of “I’m on the bus,” or, “I’m at Tesco’s, do you want beef or chicken?”

                        Last week I endured my most terrifying career assignment – half-an-hour’s interrogation by a class of 10-year-old boys and girls who think they might like to be media people one day. (Have you ever noticed how a semi-circle of children fix you with unflinching, totally unembarrassed eye contact?)

                        The invitation came from my grand-nephew Luke on behalf of his teacher who had organised a Young Journalists Club. When I asked the name of the teacher, he said, “Miss Ness … or just Angela.”

                        “Just Angela!” My mind backsprinted many decades but just could not cope with the idea of going up to our ancient Miss Daglish, she of the iron grey hair and ever-swinging cane, and calling her “Alice.”

                        Lovely and curious

                        The children were lovely, curious and bright, and one little girl declared afterwards, “That man has had a MINT life,” which I guess rates as a plus, whatever it means exactly.
                        Still and all, I got the impression that when the stakes are down, being a professional footballer, nurse or a TV star would probably win out over Grub Street.


                        Half of all marriages are doomed – Nearly half of all marriages in Britain will end in divorce before a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, figures show.

                        White boys fare worst at school – The poorest performers in British schools are apparently white boys from underprivileged backgrounds.

                        Booze is cheaper than sport – About a third of teenagers may binge-drink because it is cheaper than playing sport.

                        These were the three stories on pages 14 and 15 of the Metro free newspaper one day last week. Then came a Time magazine cover showing a boy in a hood and the headline “Unhappy, unloved, out of control” – a story that claimed Britain is now frightened of its own binge-drinking, knife-carrying youths.

                        You would not say all this provides an accurate snapshot of Britain today since the media always prefer bad news to good.

                        But if you were thinking of emigrating, it might just give you that extra push.


                        Every now and then, officers from the armed services visit schools to talk to leavers about a military career. The National Union of Teachers last week passed a resolution to have such visits banned.

                        This set a Church of England vicar wondering where it will end. Already hymn books are changing Onward Christian Soldiers to Onward Christian Pilgrims. Will Soldiers of Christ Arise be next to go? Does the Church Militant become the Church Pacific? And is somebody going to rewrite Saint Paul, who always seemed to be advising his followers to put on a helmet, shield and sword?

                        It would be interesting to know the reaction from our beloved Salvation Army, but meanwhile a local newspaper poll voted 80-20 against the teachers.


                        A young man went to a monastery and told the abbot he wanted to be a monk. “Fine,” said the abbot, “but we only speak once every 10 years.”

                        Ten years later, the monk went to the abbot and said, “The beds are hard.”

                        Another 10 years passed and the monk told his boss, “The water is always cold.”

                        Thirty years after his entry, the monk called on the abbot a third time and said, “The food stinks and I’m leaving.”

                        “Good riddance,” said the abbot. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”


                        • The pastor of an Iranian woman facing deportation is hitting back at criticism levelled at her in Parliament.

                          Foreign Minister Winston Peters has used parliamentary privilege to attack Birkenhead resident Bahareh Moradi.

                          He told Parliament Ms Moradi arrived in New Zealand using fictitious passports arranged by her brother in Asia.

                          Ms Moradi’s brother had smuggled three other family members into New Zealand, he said.

                          The three had all now been given refugee status in New Zealand.

                          "Why is she still in New Zealand?" Mr Peters asked.

                          Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove said Miss Moradi had gone into hiding in Auckland, possibly in the Iranian community.

                          She is being pursued by immigration officials charged with enforcing orders to deport her.

                          Miss Moradi’s pastor Rinny Westra says he does not know if Miss Moradi has gone into hiding.

                          If she has, it was because she feared for her life should she be deported back to Iran, he says.

                          He has testified to her Christian conversion and says any attempts to question it are wrong.

                          Converting from Islam to Christianity is considered a sin in Iran and punishment can range from social exclusion to torture.

                          "She’s just scared. What else can she do? Handing herself into the police would be like going into the lion’s den.

                          "What I’ve observed over two to three years is her regular attendance at church, public professions of faith and interest and diligent study of the Bible.

                          "You could say it is fictitious, but if it is it’s a very, very sustained fiction."

                          Mr Peters’ criticism of Miss Moradi is more to do with politics than facts and genuine concern, he says.

                          The New Zealand First Party recently issued statements opposing high levels of Asian immigration and has maintained a tough stance on refugees.

                          "It’s electioneering and he lacks credibility on this issue," Mr Westra says.

                          "The fact is that with refugee cases there’s always something in the background that doesn’t look right."

                          Miss Moradi’s brother Hamid is one of three Moradi siblings with refugee status in New Zealand.

                          He would not comment on whether Miss Moradi was in hiding but rejected Mr Peters’ assertion his brother in Asia is a people smuggler.

                          Miss Moradi was first turned down for refugee status in 2006 and an appeal of that decision to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority was rejected in 2007.

                          Immigration papers have revealed the authority did not accept Miss Moradi risked persecution if she returned to Iran.

                          The authority also expressed doubts about her conversion to Christianity.

                          Miss Moradi recently lost a last-ditch attempt to stay in New Zealand when Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones rejected her appeal.


                          • When Kazem Ariaiwand fled Iran to seek asylum in the West, he never imagined he would end up here — at the frozen edge of civilization, hawking kebabs in a place where polar bears outnumber people.

                            But he’s become a familiar sight in this desolate Arctic settlement, luring the hungry with the inviting fumes that tumble from the grill of his stand, a retired U.S. military field kitchen truck he has named “The Red Polar Bear.”

                            “I came here without knowing anyone. I had nothing. I came on a plane with my backpack,” said the 48-year-old Iranian. “Now I have many friends, almost the whole town.”

                            How the native of hot and bustling Tehran went on to win the unofficial title of “world’s northernmost kebab seller” comes down to the vagaries of early 20th century geopolitics.

                            Under a 1920 treaty, Svalbard is an international zone under Norwegian sovereignty that requires no tourist or resident visas. So when Norway rejected Ariaiwand’s asylum application in 2003, he fled as far north as you can fly on a commercial flight — to this land of legal limbo.

                            When he arrived in Longyearbyen, the main settlement of about 2,000 people, he had no job or accommodations. Left behind on the mainland were his son, then 15, and ex-wife, who both won permission to stay in Norway, he said.

                            Realizing his stay could be a long one, he went into business last year as a kebab seller, opening The Red Polar Bear in his bright-red truck parked on a public lot at the center of tiny Longyearbyen.

                            “I had to move on,” Ariaiwand said. “The only option was here on Svalbard, which was the only place where you didn’t need some kind of permission to live.”

                            During winter, he keeps late opening hours to cook for hungry night owls. Just before midnight on a recent Saturday, people were milling around The Red Polar Bear waiting for Ariaiwand to open, exhaling frost in a temperature of 4 below zero.

                            Finally, Ariaiwand trundled up in his battered blue Mitsubishi van and lugged plastic boxes with his homemade kebab meat, hamburgers and trimmings into the stand.

                            Since the islands’ frozen tundra is inhospitable for agriculture, Ariaiwand, like everyone else in the outpost, faces the additional hurdle of having to import all his supplies from the mainland.

                            As Ariaiwand worked inside, two teenage boys pressed their noses to the truck’s frosted window.

                            “It’s the best on Svalbard,” said Martin Ulsnes, 15, awaiting his weekly treat.

                            And while it may seem unlikely, there is plenty of competition. Three upscale restaurants and numerous smaller cafes cater to tourists and visiting researchers.

                            A few offer local delicacies, such as seal or whale — meat from the minke whales Norway hunts is imported from the mainland.

                            But with citizens of 35 nations represented on the sparsely populated islands, Longyearbyen’s cuisine could perhaps be described as global, much like the kebab. And Ariaiwand had international travelers in mind when he decided to open the stand.

                            “The only way to be independent was something that had something to do with the tourists. We have six, nearly seven, months with tourists in town,” he said.

                            Ariaiwand, who also works full-time at a local grocery store, refused to discuss the reasons for his flight from Tehran a dozen years ago, saying only that it was related to his job at a government-run publishing house and that he feared for his life.

                            The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration said it could not discuss details of his case, citing privacy laws.

                            His journey took him to Sweden for 18 months and then Norway for almost five years before he ended up on Svalbard in self-imposed exile on the 23,550-square-mile archipelago on the planet’s northern fringe.

                            Svalbard Police Inspector Trond Aagesen said Ariawand’s success on Svalbard was highly unusual — perhaps three other outsiders have managed to settle here. He had advised against even trying.

                            “It is a small place. There is a shortage of accommodations and jobs,” Aagesen said.

                            Ariaiwand found his military mobile kitchen in Germany on the Internet. His brother, Mohamad, who runs a car-repair shop in Germany, picked it up, painted it red, and drove it to northern Norway for transport by ship to Svalbard.

                            The Red Polar Bear, or “Roede Isbjoern” is open weekends in winter and most days in the summer tourist season. Ariaiwand made his polar bear red because “it has to be a little different so people come over.”


                            • THE Parramatta area is becoming a magnet for filmmakers who have realised its cultural and ethnic diversity offers a rich but relatively untapped resource of talent.

                              Anousha Zarkesh is a Sydney-based casting agent who is seeking to recruit men and women with Middle Eastern heritage, particularly Iranian, for a new SBS telemovie.

                              The two-part film called Saved has been written and will be directed by the acclaimed Chinese Australian director Tony Ayres, whose most recent work The Home Song Stories received seven Australian Film Industry awards in 2007.

                              "No experience is required, but enthusiasm is a must," Ms Zarkesh said.

                              She is hoping Parramatta and its surrounding suburbs such as Harris Park, which has a large Iranian community, will provide the talent needed to fill six roles.

                              "Ideally we would like to recruit Iranians but what we really need are Farsi-speaking people, which can include people from places like Syria or Iraq," Ms Zarkesh said.

                              Renowned Australian actor Claudia Karvan will play the female lead as Julia, an Australian woman who is grieving the loss of her baby and forms a relationship with an Iranian man, Amir, in the Villawood immigration detention centre.

                              "There is nothing political in this film," Ms Zarkesh said.

                              "My father was a political prisoner in Iran and I understand people might be wary because of the politics."

                              Ms Zarkesh is married to seasoned Australian actor David Field, who is currently making his debut as a director on another film, The Combination, which has just finished shooting in and around Parramatta.

                              It traces the story of a young Lebanese man growing up in the cultural and ethnic melting pot of western Sydney.

                              "There is an untapped pool of talent in these migrant communities but they never get a look-in, they never get a job here," Ms Zarkesh said.
                              Casting will take place in Sydney from Monday, May 5. Ms Zarkesh said actors must be available to travel to Melbourne for the shooting during August and September.

                              Anyone who is Farsi-speaking, aged between 20 and 50 and would like to audition for one of the roles should email Ms Zarkesh with their details including a photo to


                              • Police and immigration officers have again searched the house of Hamid Moradi in a hunt for his sister Bahareh Moradi.

                                Iranian refugee Miss Moradi is being tracked for deportation by Immigration New Zealand, despite claims her Christian faith puts her at risk in Iran.

                                The search of Mr Moradi’s home last Wednesday came on the back of another by police and immigration in mid April.

                                Then a man who Birkenhead pastor Rinny Westra claims was an Iranian Christian was taken into custody and deported.

                                No one was taken into custody in the recent search.

                                Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove has told Parliament Miss Moradi is likely to be hiding out in Auckland’s Iranian community.

                                A two-month search has failed to find her.

                                Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones rejected an appeal to stay Miss Moradi’s deportation in March.

                                The Moradi family wanted to keep her in the country until a High Court review of her case starting on July 28.

                                Three of Miss Moradi’s brothers have been granted refugee status and another is a refugee in Canada.

                                Mr Westra attests to Miss Moradi’s baptism and Christian faith. His assertions are questioned by Immigration New Zealand and the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

                                Foreign Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused Miss Moradi of using a fake passport to enter the country.