From Iceland — Afghan Mother & Daughter Get Second Chance For Asylum

Afghan Mother & Daughter Get Second Chance For Asylum

Published November 15, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Immigration Appeals Board has ordered the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) to review the case of Torpikey Farrash and Maryam Raísi, a mother and daughter who fled persecution in Afghanistan some four years ago, and were originally denied asylum in Iceland on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation.

RÚV reports that Magnea Marínósdóttir, a specialist in women’s issues in Afghanistan and a political scientist, broke the news yesterday, adding that she hopes the two will finally be granted asylum.

The Grapevine has been reporting on the case since last August, when their plight was first brought to our attention. As reported, 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 declined to even open their case, and UTL 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.

Last September, they took their petition for asylum directly to the Ministry of the Interior, pleading for the chance to continue making a life for themselves in Iceland.

“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.”

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