A Winnipeg man’s family couldn’t say goodbye to him before immigration began deportations to Iran on Thursday.
Masoud Vaezzadeh and his family were about to say goodbye to their 85-year-old father at the airport, but officials from the Canadian Border Services Agency would not let them.
“They didn’t allow me to talk to him on the phone. They said because he’s imprisoned. It’s like he’s a criminal, he was totally treated like a criminal, worse than a criminal,” said Masoud.
Masoud’s father, Mirzaali Vaezzadeh, has lived without status in Canada since 1997 when he and his family came to Canada. Mirzaali’s application for permanent residence was granted in 2003, but his application was rejected.
CBSA officials rejected his application because of his work for the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK in the decades before the Islamic Revolution and the fall of the Shah in 1979.
Mirzaali’s family and lawyer say his involvement in the organization allegedly allegedly violating human rights, including torture and killings, was minimal.
“The Iranian government is hostile to people who worked for the Shah,” said lawyer David Matas.
“It was decades ago and he had an extremely insignificant and short-term role.”
Mirzaali quit his job for SAVAK after learning that it was involved in human rights abuses, Masoud said.
“He shouldn’t be punished for something done in his presence, but not by him,” said Masoud.
âAnd he wasn’t involved in any of that, and in fact he left. As I said, as soon as he found out what was going on behind closed doors … he didn’t want to be there either. “
Knew about crimes, officials say
Immigration officials say Mirzaali knew about SAVAK’s crimes until 1964 but continued to work for them until 1970. While at the organization, Mirzaali reviewed the files of approximately 20,000 people and referred 8,000 to intelligence officials, according to a 2017 federal court ruling denying Mirzaali’s motion for judicial review of his case.
The judge wrote in the ruling that Mirzaali “recognizes that once transferred, people may be tortured, detained, ill-treated and even killed”.
Matas wrote a letter to the CBSA asking for a delay in Mirzaali’s deportation on the grounds that he and his wife were in poor health and that five years had passed since his application for permanent residence was rejected.
“They split up after 65 years of being sick and needing each other most,” said Masoud.
His father was arrested and detained on Wednesday night and taken to the detention center and then to the airport after a trip to the hospital.
As the situation unfolded late Thursday afternoon, it was evident that the lawyer’s letter was insufficient to keep Mirzaali in the country.
Family members burst into tears when they argued with border officials.
“The decision to deport someone from Canada is not taken lightly,” CBSA officials said in a statement to CBC News.
âAt the same time it is Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Notes that deportation orders must be carried out as soon as possible and the CBSA is determined to do so. “
Masoud’s father flies to Toronto, then to Dubai and finally to Tehran, where he fears his father might be executed.
Masoud says this won’t be the last time CBSA hears from him.