Saturday, August 27, 2011

A plea for my friend Dr. Roya Araghi, Iranian political refugee and former political prisoner in Iran

My dear friend Dr. Roya Araghi is an Iranian dissident and political refugee who is currently stuck in limbo in Malaysia. She has a PhD in physical chemistry from a university in Isfahan, Iran. One of her papers was published in a Western scientific journal. She is also a follower of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, an unusual pacifist Ayatollah who supports separation of religion and state, peace, and gender equality and rejects the whole idea of the clerical control of the Iranian state as being contrary to his interpretation of Shi’ite Islam. Ayatollah Boroujerdi was arrested in October, 2006, and sentenced to 11 years in prison. His father, also a prominent Ayatollah, was murdered in a Tehran hospital in 2002 under suspicious circumstances, and his mother died of a heart attack following her son’s arrest. His wife was raped in front of him. He has been severely tortured and denied medical treatment for numerous serious medical conditions, and he is not going to be released until this regime falls. Many of Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s followers include Dr. Araghi fear for his life and believe his life may be in imminent danger. Amnesty International recently cited him as one of nine Iranian political prisoners who is in need of immediate release for health reasons.

Dr. Araghi was arrested for the first time in October, 2006, at a large protest outside the Ayatollah’s house to try to prevent his arrest. She was arrested for a week and deprived of all work opportunities after that. In November, 2010, she was one of six followers of Ayatollah Boroujerdi to be arrested. During her several months in prison, she was severely tortured. She was granted medical leave from prison and chose to flee to Malaysia in May, 2011, rather than face inevitable prison, torture, and possibly death.

She has now stayed in Malaysia for 90 days and her visa has expired. She had a hearing before the UN High Commission for Refugees in July, 2011, in Malaysia, and she was told to come back in August, 2012. This news was so depressing to Roya that she became very sick and has been in the hospital for weeks. I welcome help from anyone familiar with the asylum process that can help me and her better understand the process and see if there is a way to expedite her application to the United States for political asylum.

In addition, she is also a strong supporter of Israel and the Jews who has expressed her solidarity with Israel and the Jews very clearly in conversations with me and another fellow American activist for Iranian freedom. Even while still in Iran, she expressed her opposition to anti-Semitism against French Jews on facebook. She also had an interview with I am wondering if there is any way to help expedite the processing of her case so that she can apply more quickly and directly for political asylum in the United States. I also would welcome any suggestions from you about how to lobby American Jews to support her asylum application in the United States. Anyone wishing to contact me about her case is welcome to do so at


No comments: