U.S. government action could send 100 mostly Christian Iranians stranded in Vienna back to Iran this week, where their return during the harsh government crackdown on dissidents could target them for further persecution, human rights activists warn.
The deportation threat looms despite the Trump administration’s and Congress’s vocal support for protesters in Iran, who are waging the strongest nationwide uprising against the government in Tehran in eight years.
“These deportations, during a human-rights crackdown in Iran no less, could be a death sentence for these persecuted Christians and other minorities,” Nina Shea, an international humans rights lawyer who directs the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told the Washington Free Beacon. “They would undermine the important statements against Iran’s repression by President Trump, Vice President Pence and U.N. Ambassador [Nikki Haley].”
“The administration needs to act fast to stop this travesty,” she said, noting that the U.S. government could give the refugees notices denying them entry to the U.S. as early as this week. This would leave the Austrians with little choice but to send them back to Iran.