Iranian embassies in Europe refuse to renew passports held by critics and opponents of the Islamic Republic living abroad, IranWire has learned.

IranWire has received reports indicating that in recent years, a number of Iranians residing in European countries with study or work visas, or with other residential statuses, have been denied new passports upon expiration of their old one.

Among these individuals, some had participated in protests against the repression and violence in Iran, while others were journalists or political activists.

According to one document, the embassy of the Islamic Republic in Madrid has declined to issue new passports to Iranian citizens who were active during nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.

Aida, a former teacher at girls’ schools in Iran, was accepted at a doctoral program at the University of Barcelona approximately three years ago.

She took a leave from her teaching position with plans to return to Iran upon completing her studies.

When protests erupted, Aida, like thousands of Iranians residing in European countries, took to the streets in protest.

“I couldn’t stay silent, so I participated in all the demonstrations in Barcelona. My photo was even published in Spanish newspapers,” she told IranWire. “When my passport was nearing expiration, despite facing financial strain, I traveled from Barcelona to Madrid, after scheduling an appointment with the embassy via WhatsApp.”

“I submitted my documents and was informed that my passport would be ready in three hours. However, a man named Talebi informed me that they could not issue me a passport. I explained that I was a teacher pursuing further education and intended to return to Iran.

“I mentioned that I could easily seek refugee status if necessary. He responded by saying he would explore potential solutions.”

Aida further explained that after waiting for three hours, she was informed that her father would need to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran to obtain a passport permit, which the embassy would subsequently use to issue her a passport.

The following morning, Aida’s father visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Tehran.

According to Aida, her father faced humiliation and was not provided with any assistance, not even a letter.

Despite her persistent efforts, Aida received no resolution from the Iranian embassy in Madrid.

Fearing repercussions upon returning to Iran, she was compelled to apply for asylum in Spain.

“I was afraid to return to Iran, as I was certain I would be arrested at the airport,” she said.

Shaghayegh Nowrozi, a gender equality activist and one of the administrators of the “MeToo Iran” page, shared a similar experience with IranWire:

“On February 15, 2023, I applied to renew my passport. Since my residency status is not linked to the asylum process, my passport remains Iranian. I had to seek renewal at the Iranian embassy in Madrid.”

She elaborated that despite security concerns, and after consulting with human rights lawyers, she decided to ask for a new passport.

After submitting her application and presenting the required documents at the Iranian embassy in Madrid, she was informed that an inquiry needed to be made in Tehran.

“They assured me they would call,” Nowrozi said. “After several inquiries via WhatsApp, they once mentioned, two weeks later, that it was ready. However, the day before the scheduled pickup, they notified me it wasn’t ready and that the ambassador wished to speak with me.”

After months of follow-ups, she eventually managed to talk over the phone with an individual, named Vatan, who identified himself as the consul-general.

After this conversation, IranWire received an approximately 20-minute audio file in which the man implied that consequences awaited those who instigated trouble.

“They said you have hurt Khamenei’s heart”

This isn’t the first instance where Islamic Republic institutions failed to recognize the rights of Iranian citizens residing abroad, leaving them in a state of limbo.

They impose financial and psychological burdens on these individuals, often pressuring them to return to Iran themselves or send a relative to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to secure a passport.

Roya Karimi Majd is a journalist specializing in women’s issues who has been working for Radio Farda in the Czech Republic since 2008.

She told IranWire that she has faced passport issues since the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

“My passport was due for renewal. I submitted my documents and filled out the necessary forms, but as time passed, I didn’t receive any notification to collect my new passport.

“Upon inquiry, they invited me to the embassy. They said, ‘You’re aware that you’re making things difficult for the Islamic Republic, aren’t you?’ I retorted that it was the Islamic Republic that made things difficult for me in Iran and forced me to leave Iran.”

Following this exchange, Majd was not issued a passport, and the Iranian embassy in Prague instructed her to wait.

“They summoned me again and stated that my work at Radio Farda had hurt [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s heart. They claimed they needed to rectify this,” Karimi Majd recalled.

“I asked if this meant they wouldn’t issue me a passport. They replied that I should return to Iran. They would provide me with a document for reentry and advised me to apply for a passport there,” she added.

Karimi Majd said she “never received an Iranian passport thereafter,” and was forced to live in the European Union without proper identity documents.

Source » iranwire