Hank Wilson (left) and Michael Petrellis outside the
British Consulate in San Francisco before meeting with officials to
assylum claim in the UK.
Photo courtesy The Petrellis Files
SHEFFIELD, August 23, 2007 – A
last-ditch attempt to stop the deportation early next week to Tehran of a
40-years-old lesbian has been mounted by her supporters in Sheffield.
But already activists around the world are campaigning against the
Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian
national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Despite appeals, her claim
failed and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday August 13 2007. A week
ago she was taken to London’s Heathrow airport but a short “stay” on the
deportation was given by Home Office officials minutes before being put on a
British Airways flight.
Last night, her support group
Assist (Asylum Seeker Support Initiative – Short Term) pleaded for more
letters and emails of support to be sent to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith
MP, who, as Minister for Women and Equality was responsible for steering the
Civil Partnership legislation through Parliament almost three years ago.
A spokesperson at Assist says that
already “hundreds of letters” had been received by the Home Office, many of
them from outside the UK.
“If you can’t write a letter via
the post or manage to send a fax then you could obviously send an email,”
the spokesperson said. (See end of this article for adresses and
“But do bear in mind that emails
are easily dismissed while mountains of letters and faxes hang around and
embarrass people. If you email remember to paste the contents of your
letter into the body of your text rather than send as an attachment, because
attachments are much less likely to be opened and read.”
Tuesday (August 28) is the deadline
for the Home Office to receive further representations as to why Ms.
Emambakhsh should not be deported. It is thought that if deportation does
go ahead, it could be anytime next week.
Activists from around the world are
taking up the case of Ms. Emambakhsh.
In San Francisco, local activists
Hank Wilson and Michael Petrellis met with the Deputy British Consul, Mary
“Ms. Gilbert said she would write a
memo to the Foreign Office back home that she had met with us,” Mr.
Petrellis said after the hastily arranged meeting. For a report of the
The Petrellis Files
“We remain in solidarity with Pegah
and continue to work to prevent her deportation to Iran,” he added.
And in Rome, the Gruppo EveryOne
has made representations to the British Embassy.
Roberto Malini of EveryOne Group say
that the British Ambassador wrote: “The United Kingdom repatriates only
those who do not need international protection, those who can return to
their Country of origin without a risk to their life.”
But the Mr. Malini went on to ask in
the report of the representation to the Embassy on the group’s
website: “It is a solemn commitment, but will the British Government
Speaking in London, Peter Tatchell
of Outrage! said that his group had been working all week on getting Ms.
Emambakhsh legal representation and preparing a case to put to the Home
“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 terrible situation
that gay people face there,” he said.
“The BIA will be committing a
serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human rights violation if they
insist on Ms Emambhaksh’s deportation.
“We are now getting Pegah new
solicitors in order to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence
and expert testimonies. We need a stay of deportation to give Pegah time to
prepare and submit this fresh claim.”
Letters of support of for Pegah
Emambakhsh should be sent to: Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary, 2,
Marsham St, London, SW1P 4DF. Because of the urgency and the holiday
weekend, faxing the letter is suggested. The fax number is: + 44 (0)
207 035 3262.
In either case the letter (envelope
or fax) should be clearly marked for ‘The personal attention of The Home
The Home Secretary’s email address
is homesecretary.submissions(at)homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk – replace “(at)” with
“So we can keep a record of what
has been written please send a brief email to: pegahletters(at)mac.com to
let the campaign group know who you have written to and by what form
(letters, fax, email),” the Assist spokesperson requested.
■ Newspapers in Iran are now reporting on Pegah
Peyke Iran and
are carrying articles in Persian.
ranian Lesbian Freed on Bail From UK Detention at Yarl’s Wood.
Pegah Emambakhsh, the 40-years-old Iranian lesbian who fled to the UK in
2005 seeking asylum, has been freed “on bail” from the Yarl’s Wood detention
centre in Bedfordshire. (UK Gay News, September 12, 2007)
Panthers in Paris Support Iranian Lesbian Facing Deportation from UK.
The Panthères Roses of Paris (Pink Panthers) have weighed-in with support for
Pegah Emambackhsh, the Iranian lesbian who is facing deportation from the UK
back to Iran. (UK Gay News, August 28, 2007)
International Gay Human Rights Group “Troubled” At Planned Deportation of
Iranian Lesbian From UK. A
leading American gay and lesbian human rights group has joined the
world-wide campaign to stop the deportation by the British Government of
Pegah Emambakhsh, the 40-years-old Iranian lesbian back to her home country.
(UK Gay News, August 28, 2007)
Iranian Asylum Seeker: British Govt. Dithers Over Possible Deportation, Italy
Acts. Gay News ran the headline “Ashamed To Be British” on an
article about how a gay Algerian was treated over an asylum application.
Two years on, nothing has changed when it comes to the case of
Pegah Emambakhsh, the 40-years-old gay
Iranian woman who is languishing in Yarls Wood Detention Centre near Bedford
facing deportation – and who knows what when she arrives in Tehran.
But it’s a different story in Italy.
(UK Gay News, August 26, 2007)
Gay Iranian Woman Gets ‘Stay’ On UK
Deportation Order. A gay Iranian woman came within minutes
of being put onto a non-stop flight to Tehran at Heathrow this evening as
the UK Government’s Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) – part of the Home
Office – went through the final process of deportation. (UK Gay News,
August 16, 2007)
“All This Torture Just For Being a
An interview with an Iranian
lesbian who fled to Europe:
"I am a lesbian. For this reason I
was arrested countless times. I went to prison and ultimately sentenced to
death [by hanging]. I remember the first time I was arrested; I was 21 and
a student in Esfahan." (UK Gay News, June 26, 2007)
Posted: 23 August 2007 at
10:30 (UK time)