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Afshin takes his battle for asylum to Parliament

PUBLISHED: 11:02 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:50 07 September 2010

AN asylum seeker who fled Iran to live in West Hampstead will visit the House of Commons to call for changes to UK law

Tan Parsons

AN asylum seeker who fled Iran to live in West Hampstead will visit the House of Commons to call for changes to UK law.

Afshin Azizian is joining the Independent Asylum Commission, which will present interim findings of its review into the country's asylum system.

The Commons visit on March 27 will come as Mr Azizian's own future remains unclear. The 37-year-old is launching a fresh appeal to remain in the UK, based on evidence of his activities here.

"I'm optimistic right now and I think that we will bring some changes when we go to Parliament," he said.

"The commission has information taken from all over the UK and there is growing pressure from Amnesty International and other humanitarian organisations. My case is not just about me any more - it's about me becoming a voice for other asylum seekers in the UK."

As part of his ongoing application to remain in the UK, Mr Azizian's solicitor will be presenting a new file to the Home Office later this year. The information being handed in will include press coverage from the Ham&High as well as footage from Sky News.

He hopes to put forward a different view of asylum seekers, one not always presented in the press.

"The Home Office, with some help from negative media, has created a very bad image of asylum seekers. It has so much power that no one can question it - they use their power and authority against the most vulnerable members of society," he said.

"It is hard but we need to send the message that these are people and not just numbers. This is a way to give a voice to one that is seldom heard."

Mr Azizian began a new life in West Hampstead after fleeing Iran in 1995. He feared he would be executed due to his anti-establishment views and conversion to Christianity.

Five years later, and only after the intervention of MP Glenda Jackson, he managed to find out from the Home Office that his application for asylum had failed.

He has subsequently had appeal cases turned down but the Ham&High is still running a campaign to have the decision overturned on compassionate grounds.

In July 2006, Mr Azizian handed in a petition signed by 1,000 people to Downing Street but his future remains unclear.

Legally he is unable to work or claim benefits and is relying on the charity of the Columban Fathers he lives with and the church where he is a parishioner, St Andrew's on Finchley Road.

o To help Mr Azizian to stay in the country, please fill out the form below and send it to Tan Parsons, 100A Avenue Road, NW3 3HF.

o To see Mr Azizian giving evidence to the commission go to www.humanrightstv.com/index. php?episode_id=102.

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk


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