A group of Icelanders arrived at the Ministry of the Interior today to hand over a petition of some 3,300 signatures, all from Icelanders calling upon the Minister of the Interior to halt the impending deportation of an Afghan mother and daughter.
Torpikey Farrash and Maryam Raísi, a mother and daughter from Afghanistan, arrived at the Ministry this morning with about half a dozen Icelanders to hand over the petition. While Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal was not present to receive the petition, Ministry Office Manager Hermann Sæmundsson was. He accepted the petition, saying that he would pass it along to the Minister, but added that the Minister does not make deportation decisions; rather, this is in the hands of the Directorate of Immigration, the Immigration Appeals Board, and the courts.
As reported, the Torpikey and Maryam were subject to considerable persecution in Afghanistan, on account of being Shia Muslims and belonging to the Hazara ethnic minority, which has been subject to intense persecution. After traveling between Afghanistan and Iran for some years, the situation became so dangerous they were forced to flee to Europe, ending up in Sweden.
Swedish authorities, however, rejected their application for asylum because they felt Maryam’s accent sounded more like she was from Iran than Afghanistan. Torpikey told us Maryam’s accent can be explained by the fact that they lived in Iran while Maryam was still quite young, and as such her accent was coloured by the local language.
Nonetheless, Icelandic authorities have declined to even open their case, and both the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board have rejected their application on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation – an international agreement which gives signatory states the power, although not the obligation, to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure if they had applied for asylum elsewhere.
Torpikey told the Grapevine that they have not received a definitive deportation notice yet, but the Immigration Appeals Board has asked for the Swedish authorities’ papers on them.
“We’ve received an outpouring of support from Icelandic people,” Torpikey said. “Maryam and I were sitting at Mjódd the other day, and this old Icelandic woman approached. She put her hand on Maryam’s shoulder in comfort, telling her that she hopes we can stay here.”
For now, the two are resting all of their hopes on the Icelandic people.
“I am very grateful to the people who have supported us,” Torpikey told us. “I send my love to these people. I hope they won’t abandon us. The Icelandic people are my hope now. They bring power to my heart.”