Iran Christians face ‘deportation death sentence’
The US government’s refusal to allow 100 mainly Christian Iranian refugees entry into the US could see them deported back to Iran from Vienna where they have been stranded for nearly a year.
“These deportations, during a human-rights crackdown in Iran no less, could be a death sentence for these persecuted Christians,” stated Nina Shea a human rights lawyer from the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.
The refugees, many of whom already have relatives in the US, were expected to be allowed to enter the US, under the Lautenberg programme, which was originally instigated in 1990 to enable Jews and Christians from the Former Soviet Union to emigrate. They have already been interviewed by the Department for Homeland Security, but their planned move to the States was halted in December, when the incoming Trump administration suspended the Lautenberg programme.
The 100 refugees, who are predominantly Assyrians and Armenians, are expected to deported back to Iran this week. Authorities in Iran have vowed to crush ongoing anti-government protests, which erupted last month. More than 450 people have been arrested by security forces in Tehran alone, since demonstrations began on 28 December.