An Iranian diplomat-turned-refugee in Norway, who left his post at the Iranian Embassy in Oslo to protest his own government’s harsh treatment of political opponents, has been granted political asylum in Norway.
Authorities had said his application would be handled like all others, and attributed their relatively speedy approval to “clear information and conditions” surrounding his case.
Mohammed Reza Heydari told newspaper Aftenposten that criticism of the regime in Iran is working and more diplomats are losing confidence in their government, as he did. He said 27 other Iranian diplomats have walked off the job in Asia and Europe, but the government is trying to cover it up.
Heydari is urging other governments to refuse visas to representatives of those in power, freeze their bank accounts and not allow children of those in power to study in the west as long as Iranian students are being thrown out of universities, harassed and even killed for protesting. He’s skeptical about economic sanctions against Iran, however, fearing they would hurt the general population.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and regime opponent Iranian Shirin Ebadi also warns against economic sanctions. She was in Oslo earlier this week and met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, urging him not to go along with US calls for sanctions because they would harm civilians.
Ebadi said she believes political sanctions against Iran, including recalls of ambassadors, can get the Iranian government to treat its own people better. Støre said Norway would support a UN Security Council’s decision on Iran.