Iranian sisters struggling for future in Turkey after escaping lashes for music video
Fevzi Kızılkoyun ANKARAThree Iranian sisters are struggling to secure a future in Turkey, after escaping from lashings and prison sentences for shooting a music video in their homeland. The women’s hopes were recently hit by a United Nations decision that rejected their claim of refugee status.
The sisters, 29-year-old Nafiseh Mansouri, 24-year-old Zahra Mansouri, and 21-year-old Fatameh Mansouri, were sentenced in Iran to 74 lashes and one year in prison after they shot a music video that was shared widely on social media. The punishment was suspended on condition that they would not repeat the “mistake.”
Police had tried to arrest the three sisters during an attempted live performance, but they managed to escape the police raid. They then fled to Turkey, along with their little sister, Fatemah.
The sisters, who have been living in Turkey for two years, applied to the United Nations to obtain refugee status. However, the body’s office in Turkey rejected their application on the grounds that they were escaping from the laws, not from cruelty defined in international refugee laws.
“Yes you are escaping and are scared. We believe you, but the sentences that you received do not comply with the refugee law,” the body reportedly said.
“[According to refugee law] you are not escaping from cruelty, torture or disproportionate punishment. There is no oppression due to religious, political, ideological, national or racial reasons, defined in the 1951 Geneva Convention. You are not escaping from cruelty, but from laws,” it added.
Appeal against UN decision
The sisters have appealed against the U.N. decision.
“If we return to Iran, we will be punished with 74 lashes and one-year jail terms. We will also be fined for leaving the country. Our only guilt is to have made music, which is something universal, and sharing it. We demand to receive refugee statues regarding international conventions and human rights declarations,” the sisters said in the objection petition.
The U.N.’s office in Turkey has so far avoided commenting on the incident.