Open letter to: Swedish government
On behalf of: International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR)
Copy: Swedish Migration Board and all agreed parties on the new asylum plan in Sweden
First of all, please note that although the name of our organization is the “International Federation of Iranian Refugees”, but in this letter we address the objection we have to the Swedish government’s asylum policy, not just as an asylum defender organization whose name and background is foreign, but as a movement that considers itself a citizen and a member of Swedish society.
We are very sorry that Sweden is destroying the rights of asylum seekers in an unusual and unexampled way. The policy you have pursued is first and foremost to Sweden’s detriment. The rules and regulations that you are setting and enacting and will henceforth be the basis of the asylum policy, will be the final nail to the coffin of the human and humanitarian values of asylum in Sweden. Sweden had an important place in the public mind in accepting refugees and immigrants among the Nordic countries. Many people who fled for fear of imprisonment, torture, death penalty, war and insecurity found it much easier to obtain a residence permit, security, employment, work and education in Sweden, and their lives were safe.
We are very sorry that the Swedish government’s asylum policy has fallen so far. We remember many years when each of the parties that now turned their backs on the abolition of Sweden’s asylum policy had to defend a generous asylum policy in order to get more votes in the parliamentary elections, but now it seems that everything is the other way around, and most of them are talking warmly and proudly about the decrease in the number of asylum seekers. With the exception of the Left Party and the Environment, the other parties have united in defense of fundamental changes to Sweden’s asylum and immigration laws, which were drafted by the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on Immigration. This law, due to be submitted to the Swedish parliament for approval on August 14, will ruin the lives of thousands of asylum seekers.
According to the draft of the new asylum law, the indicators of asylum admission will be much stricter than it is now. From now on, the residence permit is supposed to be temporary in all cases. The conversion of a temporary residence permit into a permanent one will have much more complicated terms and conditions. Work residence permits and work rules will be more difficult for asylum seekers. According to the new regulations, the people who join their families will be responsible for their own livelihood for up to two years. Those whose asylum application was previously rejected were legally given the chance to apply for asylum again after four years. The 4-year process is now set to increase to 8-10 years, and the asylum seekers who live at their personal place will no longer be eligible for the grant. Under the new regulations, the law will henceforth be much stricter for people who commit crimes with a foreign background. This law applies to all foreigners, whether with a residence permit or without a residence permit
The points made in the previous paragraph form the outline of the new asylum law in Sweden, but no further details of this plan are available at the time of writing this letter. It is clear from the outline of this plan that from now on Sweden’s gate will be completely closed to refugees. Many people involved in the new asylum law refer to this plan as an important achievement in Sweden’s asylum policy.
The International Federation of Iranian Refugees strongly opposes the approval of such cases as Sweden’s new asylum policy. The whispers around the approval of Sweden’s new asylum policy, which is due to be voted on by the Swedish Parliament on August 14, have sparked a wave of concern among asylum seekers and the Swedish people, as well as many humanitarian and asylum defender organizations. Our organization, which is known among Iranian and Afghan refugees, has received hundreds of phone calls and clients over the past month, all of whom have expressed concern about their fate and future, and in many cases our officials have witnessed the cries and tears of refugees. Many of these clients’ cases are closed and many have applied for asylum for 5 years and with a negative answer they have been waiting for more than 25 months to have their cases heard in the immigration court. Many of them have children and many of these children were born in Sweden. Many have gone to kindergarten and school in Sweden. Many Iranian asylum seekers have provided large and undeniable evidence to the refugee authorities to prove their refugee status, but it seems that the Immigration Office does not see these documents and does not care about them.
The plan, which is due to be submitted to parliament for approval on August 14, is expected to pose many challenges and social harm to Swedish society. The united parties in approving such a plan believe that by proposing temporary residence permits and changing the criteria for accepting asylum seekers, they can put an end to violence and social insecurity in Sweden.
This is the most incorrect and inaccurate analysis and justification by Swedish politicians. The result will be the opposite, because from now on, the negative responses to asylum applications will increase many times over, and massive of people take refuge in secret and underground life, and instead of creating passion and attracting them in society, they will separate them from society and make them isolated. Incidentally, it is in the heart of such a situation that society faces social challenges and anomalies. In the current situation and after the approval of such a plan as the basis of the asylum policy, the image of a refugee country called Sweden with its humanitarian foundations and values, which was known inside and outside of Sweden, will completely be destroyed. We wish it was not so.
Imagine all the eligible asylum seeker get temporary residence permit from now on, following the approval of this plan, the number of eligible Swedish citizens will decrease by 40,000 per year, because they will not be eligible for a Swedish passport unless they have a permanent residence permit. Add to this the list of several thousand people who receive a negative response to their asylum applications each year, and the fact that from now on it will be very difficult to convert temporary residence to permanent residence, which shows that after the approval of this plan; hardly anyone can have Swedish citizenship. These are important things that instead of making passion for life can lead to separation, hatred, isolation and many other social problems in Sweden. This is the realityand analyzing or predicting the situation after the approval of this plan is not complicated at all. This is an alarm that, if ignored, could turn Swedish society away from the laws and human values it has in dealing with refugees and immigrants.
- IFIR calls for Sweden to return to its past asylum policy in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention.
- Due to the current sensitive situation and the spread of the Corona virus, the high level of unemployment in Sweden, the very difficult conditions that asylum seekers currently are facing in Sweden, have been given negative response, or have been waiting a long time for their cases to be heard in immigration courts, IFIR demands that in case the new asylum plan is approved, all of whom will be granted permanent residence within a specified time process.
- Due to the systematic violations of human rights in Iran, the suppression of popular struggles, the issuance of death penalty, widespread arrests among protesters, tortures, forced confessions, the arrest and detention of religious minorities and the banning of their activities, arresting the political activists and putting pressure on LGBTs, IFIR demands permanent residence permit for all Iranian asylum seekers currently living in Sweden, and the Swedish government to have a more generous policy towards the reception of Iranian asylum seekers.
The International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) first of all calls on the civilized and humanitarian people of Sweden, the parties, individuals, organizations and institutions defending the rights of asylum to protest in any possible way against the approval of the new asylum law to not allow such an inhumane plan become the basis of asylum policy in Sweden.
August 7, 2020
Solidarity, International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) – Sweden