This wrongful situation can be improved…
The 23rd Press Exhibition of Iran, Wednesday, Nov 1.
Shahrvand Newspaper booth hosted a specialized meeting titled “Investigating the Different Aspects of Granting Citizenship to the Children of Marriages between Iranian Females and non-Iranian Males.” In the meeting, Nader Musavi, the director of Afghan Children Home in Iran and the headmaster of the self-managed school for Afghan children deprived of education, Dr. Arash Nasr Esfahani, the PhD graduate of sociology from Tehran University who has conducted many studies on immigrants and refugees in Iran, and Dr. Bahram Salavati, PhD in workforce and economic sociology from Milan University of Italy; shared their opinions and experiences on the subject, discussing it from various perspectives.
The topic of today’s meeting is the granting of citizenship to the children from marriage between Iranian females and non-Iranian males. Of the immigrant-related topics, this is close to the action in question. First of all, we seek to inform the public opinion about the problems and difficulties of these children. A wide range of Iranian women residing in the south of the nation have married foreigner citizens, but their offspring live in the community without an official identity. This problem also afflicts the Iranian women married to foreigners outside Iran. For instance, Maryam Mirzakhani married a Czech man, and their only daughter had an Iranian name (Anahita). Maryam eagerly wished for her daughter to be an Iranian citizen; however, Iranian citizenship laws did not allow her this right and her last link to her nation was severed.
Nader Musavi: “This concerns the group which I call half-immigrants. People who are and yet are not immigrants. That is, they have no certain status, and are considered neither Iranian nor Afghan. This issue has persisted and been ignored for years. There are various approximate statistics in this regard, for instance in 2013 a report stated 500,000 such children live in Iran. The statistics published in the press this year speak of a million. The Ministry of Labor once reported that nearly 100,000 Iranian women have married non-Iranian citizens. In any case, there are numerous unofficial statistics on the subject which reveal its large scale. For an immigrant the situation is clear, as they know they are Afghan citizens. However, the people we speak of are somewhere in between and live in absolute uncertainty. Their very identity is in suspension. Our school at the Nematabad Police Station Alley hosts immigrant children who are deprived from attending Iranian schools for various reasons. After the Supreme Leader’s decree this situation much improved, but there are still kids who cannot attend school, majorly because of the age factor wherein some kids are older than the age approved by the schools and so are not allowed to attend Iranian schools. In recent years, there were many kids in our school with Iranian mothers and Afghan fathers. This year, only one student named Abolfazl has this situation. His father is Afghan and his mother is from Ardabil and this situation has caused him great difficulties. Current Iranian laws allow these children to live in Iran only until the age of 18, whereas their situation is not clarified until that age, and it is unclear whether they are Iranian or Afghan. Indeed, what we see is that many such kids are considered Afghan and under unwritten laws, are deprived of many conventional opportunities. They cannot participate in many contests due to being Afghans, they cannot take part in academic contests as they are not even allowed entry. Some authorities might say that these kids must benefit from equal rights, but in practice it does not happen. The lifetime until 18 is a very important period, in which a person’s character is shaped. After 18, even assuming these kids are given Iranian citizenship, this will not compensate for the deprivations and damages suffered by them until 18. There are numerous latent harms suffered by these children and the permission to reside in Iran until 18 only solves a small part of their problems. This sense of constant anxiety and uncertainty is a great issue. For example, the boy we spoke of, Abolfazl, has no certificates. He told me that if he was to be caught on the streets, he would have nothing to say, that he is neither Iranian nor Afghan. The other issue is that many of these kids have become 18 and according to the law, have done all that is required for citizenship without a problem; however, unjustified obstacles are raised on the way of granting them citizenship to withhold it from them.
There is also another view among the legislators, stating that the government does not need to be committed to the immigrants. Let them remain in uncertainty. Why should the government shoulder the costs for insurance, health, and social services to the immigrants? They argue that they neither provide insurance nor pay anything and use the immigrants whenever necessary. When needed, they give the immigrants short-term benefits and use them. This is one of the views that has remained unchanged in the laws governing immigrants. Further, the status of children from an Iranian mother and foreigner father remains undecided until 18, that is, it remains unclear whether they are Iranian or Afghan. The lifetime until 18 is a very important period, in which a person’s character is shaped. After 18, even assuming these kids are given Iranian citizenship, this will not compensate for the deprivations and damages suffered by them until 18.”