REPORT: Tehran (AFP) – Iran is not willing to accept its nationals being forcibly deported from Australia but will welcome back citizens of their own free will, a top official warned Sunday.
The remarks by deputy foreign minister Hassan Ghashgavi came as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited Tehran but failed to make a breakthrough on a long-running immigration dispute.
Ghashgavi, whose brief covers consular affairs, signalled the two countries are widely at odds and he even launched a thinly veiled dig at foreign states who send people back to their place of origin.
“Any forced deportation is contrary to human rights, but we believe that the voluntary return of every Iranian to his country is not a problem,” the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
“All immigration countries make a selection. They welcome those they consider useful to their society… and reject others to be forcib ly deported.”
Iranians make up 23 percent of 1,848 people held in immigration detention centres in Australia, according to official figures from late March.
Under a hardline policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat in Australia are subject to mandatory detention, and since 2013 have been denied resettlement even if found to be genuine refugees.