Yousef Fallah Ranjbar left Iran in December 2008 because of the problems he was experiencing as a result of his Christian faith. He, like many other Iranian converts, sought refuge through the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Ankara,Turkey.
Yousef has faced many setbacks in his case, throughout which he has been continuously working 14-hour days, doing hard labour in tough conditions, for a maximum of 20 Turkish Liras (£7).
He has continued to face persecution. Yousef’s Turkish employer took exception to his Christian faith and has repeatedly denied him his pay as a result.
On one occasion, after Yousef had asked for his pay several times, the employer and several other workers attacked him; they beat him and poured hot water over him, causing severe scalding on his back.
Yousef reported the incident to the police and the case was pursued. But the trial has been postponed because the employer failed to appear for the hearing.
“ONE EXAMPLE OF HUNDREDS”
According to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Yousef is “just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey”.
Yousef is still awaiting a decision on his asylum case after a series of delays and interviews and an appeal. Mohabat News said that interviewers and decision-makers at UNHCR fail to understand the danger facing converts to Christianity in Iran and so often turn down their asylum appeals.
Iranian converts live under the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture and possibly even death, as numerous cases have shown.
Most recently, on 18 January, convert Leila Mohammadi was jailed for two years having been declared guilty of “broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, insulting sacred figures and action against national security”.