Iran says will accept refugees back from Australia, but not against their will
Iran will welcome its citizens returning from Australia, but will not force them to come or help pay Iran's Foreign Minister Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif has said on the eve of a trip to Australia.
Speaking at a Institute of International Affairs conference in New Zealand on Monday he said Iran believed that those "who have left the country for probably economic reasons to get a better life in Australia or elsewhere are always welcome to come back".
"If citizens want to come back to Iran then we will accept them with open arms."
But he said Iran "will not take anybody back to Iran against their will" unless they were a wanted criminal.
"We are ready to encourage Iranians in Australia, in PNG - anywhere, while we believe their rights should be respected and their personality should be respected and they should not be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment," he said.
"But we are ready to tell them that nothing awaits them of punishment in Iran, to encourage them to go back to Iran. But we will not impose on them to come back, we will not pressure them to come back to Iran."
He said other countries are free to apply their laws to deport people where there were illegal aliens in their country."
As a country with three million illegal refugees Iran understood that.
It would give citizens returning a letter allowing them to return to Iran but not help pay. However, Iran would provide a ticket to come back to those in Europe if they could not afford a ticket.
"Those who advertised for them to go should give them money to come back."
And he pointed the finger at Australia and other Western Government for creating the environment that saw people drawn to their countries.
He said he had told the Australian government and others they had to be careful when they made statements about Iran.
"Iran is the only country in the region that has serious elections, probably with the exception of Turkey."
Frustrations had been vented through the ballot box, which was one reason why Iran was "immune from extremism and violence".
A lot had been said about human rights and Zarif said he did not argue there was no room for improvement.
"But people here in the West created an image of Iran - we are the only country in the region that has elections and we are the only country in the region that has a special rapporteur on human rights. Isn't that a contradiction?"
That seriously questioned the credibility of the United Nation's human rights machinery.
"This is the price you will have to pay. You advertised that Iran violated human rights. so you get people who want to take refuge in other societies from our human rights abuses. So what are you complaining about? Isn't that a genuine question to be asked?"
Australia is pressing for a deal that would see hundreds of asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected sent back to Iran amid reports Australia will secure guarantees that returned asylum seekers would not face any persecution.
Fairfax Media reported in 2015 that more than 250 Iranians have had their claims for asylum refused. During the height of the asylum seeker boat arrivals experienced under Labor, the then Foreign Minister Bob Carr said most were not refugees fleeing persecution but "economic migrants."