Former prisoner and activist faces threat of torture and murder by Iranian regime
A crowd gathered across the street from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) office in support of Roghayeh “Mina” Azizi Mirmahaleh, a 60-year-old human rights activist from Iran. She recently had her application for her Canadian refugee status revoked and will be sent back to Iran on Feb. 28.
“Keep Mina here! Keep Mina here,” chanted protesters as they stood opposite CIC in downtown Montreal on Feb. 21, urging Canadian Immigration not to deport her.
Sahar Bahrami, Azizi Mirmahaleh’s daughter, said the Iranian regime knows Azizi Mirmahaleh’s identity and of her political activism in Canada, which would result in her mother facing torture, imprisonment and execution if she were forced to return back to Iran. Azizi Mirahaleh was imprisoned in the 1980’s for three years due to advocating for human rights, women’s rights and free elections in Iran.
“[The regime] executed her husband in 1988 in a mass execution,” said Bahrami. “She has participated in protests [in Canada] against violation of human rights in Iran.”
Azizi Mirmahaleh moved to Canada in 2012 after receiving a temporary resident visa, acquired by her daughter. However, when she registered for refugee status in late 2013, Azizi Mirmahaleh’s application was revoked. According to the CBC, in January a Canadian Immigration officer determined she was fit to go back to Iran.
Her lawyer Stéphanie Valois told Radio-Canada that, on Feb. 17, Azizi Mirmahaleh filed for a request to stay in Canada, in the wake of being denied refugee status.
Azizi Mirmahaleh was among the crowd of protesters, and she eventually went into CIC to speak with an immigration officer about her flight to Iran on Feb. 28.
According to the Journal Métro de Montréal, Valois said Azizi Mirmahaleh was arrested following her appointment at CIC on Feb. 21, due to immigration officers suspecting she would not arrive for her flight next week.
“We do not support deportation of any political refugees right now, so we’re here to make it very visible and so our voices are heard,” said Sherry Guppy, an organizer of the event, who is also on the NDG Senior Citizens Council where she met Bahrami and Azizi Mirmahaleh.
Guppy said she has been working with Azizi Mirmahaleh and her daughter for the past nine days since they approached the NDG Senior Citizens Council for aid.
“They’ve needed a lot of support, so we’ve just been trying to mobilize in any way that we can. We’ve been traveling around, going to see different political constituents and rallying,” said Guppy.
“It’s a human rights issue. Mina is a human rights activist,” said Guppy. “Human rights, regardless of what your politics are…it’s very basic and it’s very fundamental to our safety here and everywhere in the world right now.”
Guppy said it is vital to mobilize in circumstances such as this, as many people around the world have their human rights in jeopardy.
There is a petition available for advocates, which calls upon Ministers with power to stop Azizi Mirmahaleh from being deported.
For more information and updates on Azizi Mirmahaleh’s case, visit the Facebook group “Stand With Mina.”