Fareed Houshmand, an Iranian Baha’i who has been a refugee in Türkiye for the past seven years, faces a precarious situation as his asylum application has been rejected by a Turkish court. He is at risk of imminent deportation back to Iran.
In recent months, Houshmand was detained by Turkish authorities and faces deportation due to Turkish immigration authorities’ lack of familiarity with the Baha’i faith and the persecution this religious minority faces in Iran.
Returning Houshmand to Iran could result in his arrest by the Iranian government, and subject him to torture, given the government’s long-standing and systematic persecution of Baha’is in the country.
After asylum is denied by Turkish authorities, individuals in Türkiye have the option to appeal the Immigration Department’s decision and have their case reviewed by a city court.
Despite Houshmand’s objections, the court appointed a lawyer on his behalf, due to his financial constraints, and his appeal was then rejected.
Houshmand left Iran on March 4, 2017, to seek refuge in Türkiye. He presented his case to the United Nations Refugee Agency in the hopes of receiving international support and protection. The UN relocated him to the city of Ordu.
He worked by teaching English at language schools – though he later switched to working in a carpentry workshop. The language school had exploited Houshmand’s labor, paying meager wages or even withholding payment, taking advantage of his refugee status.
The recent surge in the arrest and deportation of Iranian refugees in Türkiye has heightened concerns about the overall plight of refugees in the country.
Shahryar Baratinya, a political activist and former political prisoner who was deported from Türkiye to Iran on August 3, was detained once he returned to Iran and is currently being held in Evin Prison.