Medhi Kavyanpor, a political refugee from Iran, has been living in Iceland for over five years and now lives in a state of limbo, as the Icelandic government has still not arrived at a decision regarding his case. The Grapevine spoke to an advocate who has worked closely with his case.
Kolfinna Baldvinsdóttir, an advocate of the rights of refugees, has pointed out that Medhi’s case is particularly frustrating because of the unanswered questions surrounding it. “How can it be that Iceland allows this treatment of people waiting for six years for an answer?,” she wrote in part on her Facebook. “How come Medhi did not get [legal counsel] – when all others have been granted [it]?”
As it stands now, he officially cannot be sent back to Iran – but he remains utterly stateless, living by an emergency work permit that needs to be renewed every six months. Despite the fact that he pays taxes from his wages, the permit does not grant him any social benefits that other working people have.
The Grapevine contacted Kolfinna to get more of her thoughts on the matter. “What I have noticed about these refugees cases,” she told us, “is that there is no red thread running through them. Each case, no matter how similar, is handled differently. Much of this depends on connections, who you know.” The Grapevine pointed out that this sounded like nepotism decides whether or not a case is approved, to which she affirmed, “Exactly.”
However, she did credit previous Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir with meeting refugees, and changing treatment methods in the event of deportation. She said she was also happy that current Minister of Justice and Human Rights Ögmundur Jónasson ended the practice of sending refugees to Greece – a major stopping point for many refugees on their way into Europe – as that country has been heavily criticised for abusing the human rights of refugees.
Kolfinna adds that the wait has been terribly stressful for Medhi, who has sworn that he would sooner kill himself than return to Iran. On the bright side, this January he will have been working in Iceland two years, and can then apply for a permanent residence permit. “But I still wonder,” asks Kolfinna, “if they were never going to send him back to Iran in the first place, why did they make him wait so long for an answer?”
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