Mahdavi-tabars must be granted refugee status

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    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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    Hambastegi-International Federation of Iranian Refugees-Vancouver
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Re: Ali Reza Mahdavi-tabar, case no: 385-07c01469, date of birth: 29/12/1978
Mehdi Mahdavi-tabar, case no: 385-07c01464, date of birth: 18/09/1982
Hamideh Mahdavi-tabar, case no: 385-07c0146, date of birth: 27/05/1984

Alireza, Mehdi and Hamideh are the children of Manouchehr Mahdavi-tabar, a well-known Iranian labour activist and one of the leading members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburb Vahed Bus Company. Mahdavi-tabar was fired, imprisoned thrice, and forced to flee after being threatened with death by security agents as a result of his labour activities.

Mahdavi-tabar is currently living in Canada after having been granted refugee status for the persecution he faced. His children, however, continue to face a tenuous situation, having been refused refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey where they fled from Iran.

It is common knowledge that families of labour activists are often harassed, intimidated and persecuted by the Iranian government. In the case of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburb Vahed Bus Company, the government violently attacked and arrested many workers and their leadership as well as a number of their wives and children. At the time, human rights groups called on the Iranian government to stop its persecution of workers and their families. Some of those arrested continue to languish in prison. In the case of Mahdavi-tabars children, they were active in supporting their father's labour rights activities, including by distributing leaflets and raising awareness on the abysmal situation of workers at their places of work and study. Mehdi, for example, challenged the head of the Islamic regimes Workers Council and a member of the Islamic Assembly and was fired from his job and expelled from university as a result. The Islamic regime of Iran treated the three children as social pariahs and denied them the right to education or work. They were also blacklisted and felt threatened and persecuted.

The three deserve refugee status and protection. They have a well-founded fear of persecution should they be returned to Iran.

We, the undersigned, call on the UNHCR in Turkey to review their cases and to grant them refugee status based on their well-founded fear of persecution.