Exodus into Turkey: Shoutout to AP’s “Dissident Iranians take refuge in Turkey”

Iran’s presidential elections on June 12, 2009 became historic for the amount of involvement, protests and suspicion that surrounded it. After an unexpectedly high voter turnout, many people were surprised that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. Protests broke out throughout Iran and the world as doubt surged through people’s minds over how the ballots were counted. Becoming one of the Islamic Republic’s largest demonstrations, Iranians risked harm and death to fight what they believed was a corrupt election.

It is now nearly a year later and while the world has accepted Ahmadinejad’s victory and moved forward, the repercussions of taking part in the protests and fighting against Ahmadinejad’s regime continues to haunt many Iranians.

Associated Press writer Scheherezade Faramarzi compiled several haunting interviews in the story, “Dissident Iranians take refuge in Turkey,” that appeared over dozens of news web sites. Tales of government persecution, hostility and fear dominate the article as the issue of Iranian safety is addressed.

Iranian human rights reporters Hesam Misaghi and Sepehr Atefi fled to Turkey through icy weather before their homes were raided by the Iranian police, according to the article. Their friend, Navid Khanjani, who changed his mind at the last minute about accompanying them, was arrested.

Mahdis, a political activist, escaped Iran after being repeatedly raped in jail. She reached Turkey only to be raped again by a fellow refugee and have no way of paying the $200 needed to move to a different location.

These tales stand as a reminder that refugees are not only born out of natural disaster or of war, but out of government repression. Rights, such as freedom of speech and protest, that are taken for granted in countries like the United States are lost and forgotten in other places in the world.

As people lose their lives and homes due to persecution for their thoughts and actions, they now find protection in Turkey. The article reports that at least 4,200 Iranians have had to flee since the elections and around 1,150 have crossed the border into Turkey.

A year after the Iranian presidential election, people continue to fear for their lives. Leaving everything behind for an uncertain future, political refugees continue to learn to adapt to a world of uncertainty as they dream of safety.

Reform activist and refugee Saadat stated it best in declaring, “when we leave our country, we leave behind all our past, our love, memories, the sum of our lives.”

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