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Iranian refugee commits suicide

International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR)
Press Release
January 6, 2000

On January 3, 2000, Reza Afshar, a fifty-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, committed suicide in protest to the policies of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Islamabad, Pakistan. Afshar who had struggled for so long to save his life took it with his own hands and became yet another victim of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the new world order's inhuman refugee policies. Today, other refugees and the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) Branch in Pakistan organized and paid for his burial.

Afshar had told the IFIR-Branch in Pakistan that four years ago, the UNHCR had rejected him after asking only two non-biographical questions pertaining to his claim. When he returned to the UNHCR on an appointed date to obtain their decision on his claim, the agency seized his UN letter and closed his casefile. The Pakistani authorities then imprisoned him for 40 months. When the government finally released him recently, Afshar returned to seek assistance from the UNHCR. He was sleeping in front of that office (located across from the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran) for lack of accommodations. After presenting several letters requesting assistance, the UNHCR gave him a notice that his case remained closed. Distraught and unwilling to return to Iran, Afshar took his own life with sleeping pills.

IFIR condemns the UNHCR's utter disregard for refugee lives and holds that agency directly responsible for Afshar's death. The UNHCR's bureaucracy, lengthy determination procedures, interrogatory interviews, lack of a satisfactory appeals process, and withholding of reasons for rejection are responsible for Afshar's death. The UNHCR's non-provision of any financial and living assistance to asylum seekers, and its failure to provide adequate protection and resettlement opportunities are responsible for innumerable such acts of desperation and lost lives in Pakistan and elsewhere.

IFIR calls on all to condemn the UNHCR Pakistan's violations of Reza Afshar's (case number I-16056) human rights by sending protest letter to the UNHCR in Pakistan (e-mail: or fax: +92-5127-9455) and the UNHCR in Geneva (e-mail:, +41-22-739-7353).

For more information: contact Maryam Namazie, IFIR, GPO, PO Box 7051, New York, NY 10116. Tel: 212-747-1046. Fax: 212-425-7260. E-mail: Website:


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