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Sasan's Story

Sasan, or as he is known on social media, Persian Sasan, is a 29-year-old atheist who has been hiding in Turkey since 2016. He is a human rights activist who, on Instagram, was publishing material critical of religion. He escaped from Iran because of threats he has been facing there for his activism and came to Turkey for a new, and hopefully safe, life.

In 2018, because of bureaucracy changes, Sasan went to the immigration offices in Turkey to apply for residency in Bursa, as he was advised to do. He started to reside there, but he was still constantly receiving threats from religious extremists, as well as the Iranian government and its intelligence services.

After he got his ID card he would be eligible to apply to the UNHCR. He wanted to change his city of residence, however, and applied to police and the immigration office who sent him to Konya, which is generally populated by the religious and uneducated. He settled down in Konya, but was still regularly receiving threats. He requested protection from the police in Konya; he tried to explain that his life was in danger, people were tracking him and seeking to kill him. Regrettably, police officers just mocked him because of his atheism and did nothing to protect him. He returned to the police later to re-explain everything, hoping they would take the threats seriously.

Soon afterward, an assassination attempt was made on Sasan and right inside his own home. As a sports coach, Sasan managed to fight his way out of that attempt with his fists. He went to the hospital for treatment, and to the police where he reported the event, telling officers he had been located by his pursuers. He told the police about the influence of Iran’s intelligent services inside Turkey, that he needed shelter and protection because they knew his location. But, again, the police did nothing; again, they judged him by his atheism and advised him to cease his activism, go home, and continue living his life.

After the assassination attempt in Konya he fled to Izmir, where he assumed he could be safer than in the small city of Konya, and indeed he started to build a life in Izmir. He changed his address every two weeks, but he continued working as a sports coach in a gym. Throughout this time he was still receiving death threats on a regular basis.

He recently obtained his official refugee status in Turkey and therefore became eligible to apply to the UNHCR for their protections. However, because of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, he couldn’t get access to their office. Since then, he has been trying desperately to get help with his situation. He faced yet another attempt on his life but was too frightened to go to the police again because they didn’t care; Sasan believes they may even be sharing his information with Iranian authorities. Not long afterward, Iran’s military service declared him deceased, with media outlets reporting that the heretic “was killed at last” and could no longer spread his heresy. Sasan is understandably terrified; his very life

and well-being are in constant jeopardy.

He applied to the Atheist Refugee Assistance Program for our urgent assistance, and to be heard. We have since provided Sasan financial and psychological guidance to change his dangerous situation in Turkey for the better.

Two lawyers have since volunteered to assist with his case, and have been seeking protection services for Sasan at Turkish offices. Sasan has also reached out to Secular Rescue in the USA, which has taken his case under their consideration after his story was shared with them. The ultimate goal is to assist Sasan with hoped-for relocation to a Western country where he can live his life in safety and peace, rather than remaining in Turkey, which has become far too dangerous for Sasan and others like him.

Recently some extremists groups found out the Sasan is still alive and called a campaign for his head. Due to those circumstances he's relocated to safe place, we managed that his story has been heard by UNHCR as well and now he is waiting for relocation to safe country.

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