Saba Rawi is a 30-year-old gay Iranian now facing imminent deportation back to the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Netherlands.
Saba, who lived in the northern Iranian city of Rashd, was arrested for kissing his boyfriend on the street—the boyfriend was able to flee arrest. Saba was tortured by the police and raped by a police officer, who, using the threat of a prison term, blackmailed Saba into signing a letter saying he was not harmed by the police and that his rape was at the hands of others. Saba signed the letter under this horrific pressure—and then managed to flee Iran.
Saba eventually arrived in The Netherlands. That was some four and a half years ago. Since then, Saba has been serving as the Dutch representative of the Persian Gay and Liberation Organization, the largest Iranian gay group.
After the worldwide protests against the hanging of two gay Iranian teenagers in Mashad last July, The Netherlands was one of several countries to have temporarily suspended deportations of gay Iranians who had not been granted asylum. But that Dutch suspension has now ended, and Saba—who inexplicably had his request for asylum refused, and his deportation ordered—now will find himself in a Dutch court once again, on March 8, to present his final appeal against deportation back into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiery furnace for gay Iranians.
If the Dutch government sends Saba back to Iran, he will face arrest, prison, and perhaps even execution, a fate that has befallen so many other victims of Iran’s lethal anti-gay pogrom.
The Netherlands has an international reputation as a defender of human rights but this new threat to deport Saba and other gay Iranians is a shameful blot on that reputation. Yet our U.S. national gay organizations—including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—have maintained a discreet silence on the crisis facing Iranian gays, and none has raised its voice in public on behalf of Saba.
We demand a halt to deportations of gay Iranians by ALL countries, including the Netherlands.
And we ask that deportation proceedings against Saba Rawi be halted immediately, and that he be granted permanent asylum by the Dutch government. This we ask in the name of our simple, shared humanity. Stop the deportation of Saba Rawi!
We also ask our readers to take five minutes to phone, fax, e-mail, or write immediately on Saba’s behalf to H.E. Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, at The Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008. The phone number is 202-244-5300; the fax number is 202-362-3430. The ambassador can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Written on behalf of Gay City News by Doug Ireland.