Iranian, who converted to Christianity, to be expelled from Belarus: he may face the death penalty
Minsk City Court upheld the decision to refuse refugee status to Mehrdad Jamshidian from Iran. Now, he can be at any time sent to Iran, where he may face the death penalty.
Mehrdad Jamshidian has been living in Belarus since 1993. He started business here, started a family and became Christian in 2002. In the end of 2012, he was arrested at the request of the Iranian side, which accuses him of murdering his mother and brother in September 2012. Jamshidian insists that he did not kill his relatives. He was in Iran for the last time on August 25, 2012, Naviny.by informs.
Nevertheless, he spent in custody more than a year, while the Belarusian law enforcers decided what to do with him. General Prosecutor’s Office twice refused to hand him over to the Iranian side. And his niece and a second brother, who are recognized as victims in the case, asked to terminate the criminal case.
Jamshidian’s family considers his arrest to be a kind of political violence of the Iranian authorities since his murdered brother was the leader of the opposition movement. Mehrdad may face the death penalty both for murder and for abandoning Islam.
Since the penalty for changing religion is not acceptable in Belarus, Jamshidian expected to receive refugee status. However the Interior Ministry claimed that he told about the change of religion in order to avoid expulsion. However, Baptist pastor Siarhiej Kazluk in court confirmed that Mehrdad converted to Christianity in 2002.
On July 4 Central District Court upheld the decision of the Interior Ministry to refuse to grant Jamshidian a refugee status. Minsk City Court also rejected his request.
Iranian Embassy says that Mehrdad Jamshidian poses as an innocent and tries to mislead the public, and that the followers of Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism in the country enjoy all the rights. However, as stated in the UN report, in 2014, apostasy is punishable by death in Iran, and people converted to Christianity are persecuted, being accused of “endangering national security” and “propaganda against the state”.
The Iranian embassy also reported that Mehrdad’s father is also the victim in the case, but he died five years before the murder in 2007.
However, Mehrdad can be expelled from the country at any time, despite the threat to his life and the fact that in Belarus he has wife and three children.
Jamshidian still has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The United Nations Human Rights Committee took up his complaint and asked the Belarusian side not to send him to Iran. However, Minsk has repeatedly ignored earlier this international body requirements, because its solutions are advisory and not binding.
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