Background information on the deportation of Sami
On October 7, the immigration authorities in Neubrandenburg put Sami from Iran in the detention center in Glückstadt. What the fuck? We explain some background information here.
Who is Sami?
Sami is a friend of ours. We met him at one of our manifestations in Horst. He is a friendly, open person who has always shown solidarity for the concerns of his roommates and friends. He lived in a refugee camp in the district of Mecklenburgische Seenplatte. Sami often visited us and his boyfriend in Rostock, so we have been in contact for more than two years now.
Sami cannot go back to Iran because he is threatened with execution there. He's very scared. The first thing he wrote us from jail was "I want to live" - nothing could say more clearly why it's important that we (and you) stand up for him.
We will post news and views on our Instagram and Twitter channels. We ask you to keep an eye on this in the next few days and save Sami from deportation and from the Islamist regime.
Why deport someone who needs protection?
In the German bureaucracy, responsibility is often shifted from A to B to Z. The BAMF rejected Sami's application for asylum. The Administrative Court of Greifswald confirmed this rejection. So the immigration authorities organize the deportation. For all those involved, it is currently irrelevant what Sami's situation in Iran will actually look like, because the BAMF's rejection is what counts for the authorities at the moment.
It is important to know: Asylum procedures do not always reveal the truth, even if the BAMF claims so. Roughly speaking, an asylum procedure works like this: Someone has a few hours in 1 day to tell his/her story. The BAMF fundamentally questions this story with a rather disrespectful and often degrading questioning technique. Many asylum seekers describe it as a gaslighting experience. Many people who have such a hearing at the BAMF have seen and experienced terrible things. Where they come from, on the escape routes and in the refugee camps. Trauma and psychological stress play a major role. In the asylum procedure, this hearing is formally the only place where information can be given to the BAMF. Information that is subsequently submitted or provided in court proceedings is usually classified as implausible (“exaggerated”, “asylum-tactical”).
The decisions made by the BAMF and the courts are by no means always fair and correct. Often enough they are far from reality and sometimes shocking. We know of a hearing protocol in which the BAMF reproaches someone: If it is life-threatening to get involved against the regime, why did you do it? We know of court decisions in which the Greifswald Administrative Court seriously tells young women that they have to adapt to the living conditions in Iran and the "patriarchal barriers" (#forcedhijab).
Sami is a converted Christian. In Iran, the Islamist regime imposes jail and torture up to the death penalty for people who turn away from the Islamic faith ("apostasy"). Atheists are persecuted just like converts. In the corresponding asylum procedures, converts have to convince the BAMF and later the court that they really are atheists/Christians/others and, above all, that they cannot be secretly so in Iran. It is therefore often a question of whether someone in Iran already knows that they are no longer Muslims.
In Sami's case, neither the BAMF nor the Greifswald administrative court believed that he is a Christian. There are no objective criteria for the question of credibility. Baptism is not proof in itself. Regular church attendance is not evidence in itself. Knowing the Bible well is not proof. It is always up to the personal assessment of the listener and the judge. Which in Sami's case was false and potentially deadly.
Sami is also gay. Lesbians and gays* face the death penalty in Iran. Recently, the cases of Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choobdar, who were sentenced to death by the regime in September, have attracted global attention. A death sentence always means jail. Prisons in Iran always mean torture and severe violence.
Asylum procedure for LGBTIQ+
In itself, persecution because of homosexuality is a reason to give someone protection status as a refugee in Germany. The BAMF is also aware that lesbians and gays are being persecuted in Iran. As mentioned above, the BAMF does not always get everything or incorrectly judges statements as implausible.
Anyone who is used to hiding their own sexuality may not be able to discuss this topic in a hearing with two complete strangers (listener from BAMF & interpreter). The interpreters are mostly from the same countries as the asylum seekers, which doesn't exactly increase trust. Until recently, the BAMF also assessed whether, in their opinion, someone could not simply continue to live as gay/lesbian in Iran. In addition, coming out in the asylum process is not easy for many LGBTIQ+ refugees. Those who come out make themselves vulnerable. The hearings still take place in the initial reception camps. In the collection camps, anti-LGBTIQ violence is part of everyday life. You live with people from the countries you just fled from. Not coming out can save your life.
Sami felt the same way. He was in the process of preparing for a second asylum application (so-called follow-up application/Folgeantrag), in which he wanted to apply to the BAMF for protection because of his homosexuality. The first asylum procedure rejected so far was only about conversion to Christianity.
In many cities there are support and self-organized groups of queer refugees. We are currently in the process of contacting groups in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in order to be able to support Sami even better with his follow-up application.
If you know LGBTIQ refugees who need support, you can find really good information here: www.queer-refugees.de. Also encourage people to contact the LSVD MV or any of the queer organizations throughout MV. Community has your back!
Why deportation prison in Glückstadt?
Sami will not be deported from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but from Glückstadt in Schleswig-Holstein (SH). There is a deportation prison that Hamburg, SH and MV operate together. It has been in operation since summer 2021. Pro Bleiberecht is active in the cross-federalstate network "Glückstadt without deportation jail". We would like to encourage you: Join us!
There is now a visiting group in Glückstadt ("Besuchsgruppe"). Voluntary committed people try to support people in the deportation prison. Contact them if you know someone who is being jailed in Glückstadt.
In recent years, the Federal Ministry of the Interior under the CDU/CSU has pushed for disgusting racist tightening of the law against asylum seekers and migrants. One area in which they were very active was detention for deportation (Abschiebehaft). They have expanded the criteria for Abschiebehaft so that practically every asylum seeker falls under it. They pushed ahead with the construction of deportation prisons and even disregarded a court ruling of the ECJ and in between housed deportees in prisons again, for example in Neustrelitz.
Few people are aware of this policy. What happens in the area of asylum and deportation often does not get out. Collection camps and deportation prisons - both serve to isolate those affected so that they can be better controlled and deported. We are glad that we can support Sami with everything we can think of at the moment. But we are also painfully aware of how many people with the most blatant stories are deported every day without anyone knowing their names or being able to help them. Recently there was the example of the seriously ill Ghanaian whom the Rostock immigration office sent to his death with medicine for 6 months in his luggage.
The problem is racism. Abschiebehaft is institutional racism. The revision of the residence laws by the new federal government is absolutely overdue. From our point of view, this must include completely abolishing Abschiebehaft as quickly as possible - as well as other racist and populist laws that the CDU/CSU and SPD have enforced in recent years.
Deportations to Iran
Overall, there are comparatively few deportations to Iran. Throughout 2021, 28 Iranians were deported from Germany to Iran. In the first half of 2022, however, there were already 25, which shows that the SPD interior ministry is continuing the racist deportation policy of recent years and is intensifying deportations.
Three years ago, a Christian woman from Torgelow was deported to Iran from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In general, the immigration authorities in MV are to be classified as restrictive. For 14 years, ex-Interior Minister Lorenz Caffier was in charge of them – known in terms of asylum policy for his closeness to Horst Seehofer and privately known for buying weapons in the context of the right-wing prepper network Nordkreuz.
On Friday, a few hours before Sami was taken to Glückstadt, the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania decided on a moratorium on deportations from MV to Iran. Some politicians from the SPD, Green Party and LINKE have already reacted to our social media campaign on Saturday and will follow up with the authorities about Sami's case. We're excited to see what happens. Unfortunately, experience shows that you have to assume the worst at the immigration office in Neubrandenburg.