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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Protester's tortured past
Abas Amini
Mr Amini says he is prepared to die
Abas Amini has sewn up his eyes, mouth and ears because the Home Office does not believe he should be granted asylum.

But the medical team which has examined him says the Iranian Kurd has been tortured and must not be deported.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture is furious with the Home Office stance.

One of its doctors said Mr Amini, 33, who lives in Nottingham, had been left "very psychologically damaged" by repeated beatings in Iran.

Sherman Carroll, director of public affairs, said: "The doctor here who examined Mr Amini had no reason to doubt that he had suffered beatings on the soles of the feet.

"Scars elsewhere on his body were fully compatible with torture.

"But all this medical evidence has been ignored.

The uncertainty that all this engenders has obviously assumed nightmarish proportions in Mr Amini's mind
Sherman Carroll
Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

"Instead, the Home Office has clutched at straws to have the case thrown out."

Mr Amini spent more than six years behind bars, including a year of solitary confinement, between the ages of 13 and 31.

When in jail, he was beaten, sometimes on the soles of his feet, and suspended off the ground for up to two days.

Sometimes he was subjected to mock executions.

His offences included the writing of anti-government poetry, which he would sometimes read in public, or circulate among his friends, and membership of an underground communist group.

Reasons for refusal

He was imprisoned for two years for allegedly killing a member of the Iranian security services, but later cleared by an Iranian judge.

The Home Office letter refusing his asylum application said: "The Secretary of State notes that on each occasion when you were imprisoned you were released and allowed to return home, and that you had lived peacefully there for some time.

"He considers therefore that the authorities would have been aware of your opposition to the regime and that had they wished to imprison you for these opinions could have taken action at any time during the years you lived at home."

Home Office asylum headquarters in Croydon
The Home Office says he faces no dangers in Iran
The Home Office also challenged claims about anti-government tattoos on his body.

Mr Carroll said these "spurious" objections were appalling and he added: "The uncertainty that all this engenders has obviously assumed nightmarish proportions in Mr. Amini's mind.

"It strikes us, frankly, as manifest of nothing more than a desire to keep the numbers down."

The foundation receives about 17 referrals each week from lawyers asking for a medical report in a particular case.

If the foundation agrees, then it talks to the asylum seeker about his experiences before a medical examination.

Michael Peel, senior medical examiner at the foundation, told BBC News Online: "We have a good idea about what goes on in these countries where torture is practised.

Woomera detention centre
Protesters in Australia sewed their lips
"It's not just looking at scars and bruises and saying 'yes' or 'no'.

"It's an expertise that's unique to the foundation and the training we have."

Mr Peel said the Home Office was appealing decisions with increasing frequency - a pattern which can deeply affect asylum seekers telling the truth.

"Having been turned down by the Home Office, then accepted by an adjudicator, then turned down again, I would accept that to be very damaging to their mental health, especially after everything they've already been through."

The form of protest by Mr Amini is not believed to have been seen in the UK before.

A handful of asylum seekers at the Woomera detention camp in South Australia sewed up their lips last year as part of huge protests there about the conditions.

Mr Peel said: "I don't know for sure, but I presume it's part of certain cultures as a way of protesting.

"A large proportion of people in the Australia case were from the same part of the world [as Mr Amini] - Afghanistan and Iran."

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