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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Farzad's anger at clerics and clerks
By Nick Dermody
BBC News Online

Farzad, a refugee from Iran
"Farzad" fears his life is at risk if he is identified
Like many students in Iran with ideas about democracy, Farzad - not his real name - began to protest at the way his country was run.

And like most things the computer-literate undergraduate puts his mind to, he did it well. Perhaps too well.

Within six months, he had to jump out of a second-floor window to escape the secret police, and flee to Wales where he is now claiming asylum.

But the Home Office claims Farzad is an economic migrant and has turned down his application for refugee status.

It is a ruling that makes him almost as angry and bitter towards the UK authorities as he is towards the clerics in Iran.

There is no democracy in my country, I would not put my case to an "adjudicator" there, but here I thought there was democracy
Farzad, an asylum seeker

The mullahs had him kicked off his university course because he was too "Western" for their liking - he dressed too smartly, had a girlfriend and refused to grow a beard.

He is worried the Home Office's continued opposition to his claim for asylum could send him back. He has launched an appeal but is worried about his future.

Smart dresser

He said: "There is no democracy in my country, I would not put my case to an "adjudicator" there, but here I thought there was democracy.

"But they are making decisions about me when they know nothing of what is happening in Iran.

Asylum Day in Wales

"They have played with my life for three years. It's mental torture."

He says he had no choice in the UK as a destination. It was where the trafficker was going when Farzad's mother handed over the $5,000 the man demanded to take her son to safety.

If the secret police had raided his student flat a week later, Farzad, who now lives in the Cardiff area of south Wales, would have gone to Belgium.

He makes a point of still dressing smartly - far more smartly than he could possibly afford on the 38 the government gives him to live while his claim is assessed.

It serves a dual purpose: it is a continued snub to the men of religion who have wrecked his life and it serves to belie the Home Office claim he is in the UK simply to improve his standard of living.

'Persecution'

For, by Iranian standards, Farzad is from a quite comfortable family background. He receives money most months from his parents - who he has not seen for three years - to ease the loss of his home comforts.

He wants to work rather than receive benefits but is not allowed to while his asylum claim is re-assessed.

"I don't need to work - I have money. In Iran I had my own business.

"I am here because I had to run from Iran because of persecution.

"I had to leave in two days. The Home Office does not understand."

A Home Office spokesman said they were not able to comment on an individual case.

He said: "All cases are dealt with on their individual merit."




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