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Iran refugee claimant wants end to 21-year wait

OTTAWA — It’s not the accusation that he once belonged to an Iranian terrorist organization that most torments Hassan Samimifar. It’s the wait.

Since coming to Canada as a refugee 21 years ago, Samimifar has waited for a verdict on his immigration status.

Soon, he could be deported back to Iran for alleged links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, considered a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. Part of him will simply be glad for an end to the waiting.

"When a person is convicted of a murder and he will be executed, the anticipation of death is sometimes harder than death itself," Samimifar, 47, said this week.

"The best time of my life to establish a good life — it’s gone. What makes me angry is that I can’t get those years back."

Samimifar was born in Tehran and served in the Iranian navy. After the Islamic revolution of 1979, he moved to India to study science. While in university, he attended lectures and demonstrations opposing the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. During this time, the Canadian government alleges, he joined MEK, a Marxist group seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.

Ottawa says MEK espouses the use of force to purge Western influence from Iranian society, and has forged links with Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.

Samimifar admits to "sympathizing" with a student group with links to the MEK, but denies ever being a MEK member.

In 1985, Samimifar arrived in Canada and claimed refugee status.

The following year, he was convicted for causing a disturbance after an altercation with an immigration officer at a Toronto airport, as well as for breaching his bail conditions.

Samimifar insists he has had no contact with MEK since he came to Canada.

An immigration hearing is scheduled for early next month, and he could be deported sometime next year.

Spokespersons for the Justice Department and Citizenship and Immigration Canada declined to comment, noting the case is still before the courts.

Andrew Mayeda, Vancouver Sun, 23 November 2006

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