Priti Patel has been accused of trying to deport a former Iranian police officer who fled to the UK after giving first-hand testimony of potential human rights violations by the Iranian government.
Counsel for the Iran Atrocities Tribunal, known as the Aban Tribunal in London, has written to the home secretary, saying a former officer in the Iranian police has been detained in the UK and told that he will be sent 4,000 miles to Rwanda next week.
In a letter seen by the Guardian, the counsel said the former officer fled to the UK in May after being sentenced to five years in an Iranian prison in May for refusing to fire indiscriminately on crowds of protesters.
Patel announced last week that the first deportation flight to Rwanda would leave on June 14th. The flight may be delayed because of legal challenges against the move, according to lawyers.
Hamid Sabi, counsel to the Iran Atrocities Tribunal, said that the former police officer arrived in the UK by a small boat on May 14th, 2022 and is currently in Brook House detention centre. He was served with notice on May 31 that he will be sent to Rwanda, according to the letter.
The former police officer is a conscientious and brave citizen of the world, and he has a genuine fear of persecution in Iran.
Iranian agents were trying to find his whereabouts while he was harassing his family in Turkey. The United States is not a safe haven for Rwanda, having a close relationship to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please reconsider your decision for his removal, Sabi wrote in his letter to Patel.
The former officer told the tribunal that he was in charge of dozens of officers in a provincial city when he was ordered by the authorities to shoot at peaceful demonstrators.
According to the letter, he was tried before a disciplinary court in Iran for disobeying the order to shoot and sentenced to five years.
He fled from Iran to Turkey in the autumn of 2021 and testified by video link before the tribunal in November, according to the letter.
On November 15th, 2019 the Iranian government announced that fuel prices had tripled, leading ordinary citizens to protest in the streets. The nationwide protests were peaceful and consisted of people blocking roads with their cars and shouting slogans.
Over the week that followed, protests in most cities, towns and provinces were repressed by police and military forces who attacked protesters and bystanders with firearms. Hundreds were killed, thousands more injured, arrested or tortured.
Three NGOs were set up by the Iran Atrocities Tribunal to examine evidence of human rights violations in Iran during late 2019.
The Home Office has been accused of trying to deport unaccompanied 16-year-olds to Rwanda in the first wave of asylum seekers.
One person who said they were under 18 was placed in detention awaiting potential deportation to Rwanda and was released at the end of May, following intervention from lawyers.
Another two asylum seekers identified by one charity as having received warnings of imminent removal and are currently held in immigration detention centres say they are 16 but their age is contested by the Home Office.
Some of the countries that are currently in conflict zones are Syria, Sudanese, Afghans, Eritreans, Iranians and Iraqis.
A group of asylum seekers facing offshoring went on a hunger strike last week and on Friday dozens of people in the Brook House detention centre near Gatwick airport started a protest in the exercise yard.
A Home Office spokesman said people should not make dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK, and that they remain fully committed to working with Rwanda to provide safety to those seeking asylum.