New Zealand
Teen bullied in Iran for not practising Islam granted refugee status in New Zealand

An Iranian boy who was sexually abused and bullied as a child would face mental and physical harm if he was forced to return and carry out military service, an appeals tribunal has ruled.

The International Arrivals terminal at Auckland Airport. Source:

By Gill Bonnett of

The 15-year-old, who came to New Zealand when he was 12, has been granted refugee status.

His mother, an opponent of the Iranian authorities, was recognised as a refugee last year.

They told the immigration and protection tribunal he and his parents never practised Islam as his classmates did, and he was unfamiliar with the Qur'an other than what he could remember about it from school.

The tribunal was told he was punished by teachers, particularly for failures in religious instruction, and had been sexually abused when he was four. He became hypervigilant and would not leave his home alone after hearing about the extent of child kidnapping in his city.

"[He] has no belief in Islam and objects to the ideas of the Islamic regime," the tribunal recorded. "He believes that the Iranian government is a terrorist one. The appellant does not wish to undertake military service. He would be forced to pray five times a day. He would be shown how to use a gun and he would be given no choice as to how he was to treat other Iranians. He respects other people's opinions and does not wish to do this.

"He would be told to stand in front of protesters and, if he refused, he might be killed. Soldiers must do whatever they are ordered to do and he does not want to take anyone's life for some terrorist's sake or for any other reason. The military's aim is to train an individual for a life full of violence whereas he wishes to help others, live freely and build a better world."

His father is still in hiding in Iran after being detained, interrogated and tortured by the authorities.

The tribunal ruled that the risk of psychological harm at school being exacerbated by his absence from Iran and his time in New Zealand - and the possibility of further mental and physical harm over a two-year period of compulsory military service - constituted serious harm.

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