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Abuse, torture, rape – and exile
Critics of the Iranian regime are enduring torture and enforced exile. Trends magazine examines how even old family ties and privilege offer no protection.
January 20, 2010 4:36 by Iason Athanasiadis
It’s hard being an Iranian refugee in Turkey. Fear and paranoia buffets the growing community of exiles generated by the five-month-long crisis ripping through Iran.
The number of dissidents turning up at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees building in the past few months seeking refugee status has doubled since the crisis began this summer. Iranians took to the streets in June to protest against what looked like a suspicious victory in the presidential elections by incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The first port of call for Iranians coming to Ankara is the Buyuk Erhan hotel. Here, families of new arrivals congregate to swap tips, sim cards and, once trust is established, tales of hardship.
Despite the problems, opposition groups in Iran do offer support, but sometimes with strings attached.
“The day I was planning on leaving Iran, an influential member of the opposition came to our house and put $15,000 on the table for me to take to Turkey,” Mehtari says.
“But we refused it.”