Student faces death if deported

TORONTO, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- An Iranian high school student whose claim for refugee status has been rejected by Canadian authorities says he faces death if deported to Iran.

Nineteen-year-old Amir Shams says he was arrested and beaten in Iran after being caught with a book on the Bahai faith.

Canadian immigration officials have notified him he could be deported to Iran any time.

He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. today that if deported "I would be dead."

He says "my father was taken to prison for two months without even my mother knowng it, and they were looking for me."

Shams has been living with an aunt in Toronto for two years being smuggled out of Iran while preparing to adopt the Bahai religion.

Bahais were the largest religious minority in group in Iran before the 1979 revolution and became the most severely persecuted after the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power.

Shams's lawyer Peter Krochak says "refugeee status has been refused, as well as a subsequent post-claim application."

Immigration and Refugee Board spokesman John Cottreau told United Press International he could not give the reason for the denial of refugee status to Shams.

Krochak says that "at the time (Shams) left Iran, he was not actually a member of the Bahai community himself, although the family is Bahai."

Krochak says, "Unfortunately, because at the time he left (Iran), he was not actually a member, the Refugee Board felt that if he returns to Iran he is not going to be in any particular danger."

Sham says, "I got caught in the school with a Bahai book in my hand, and I was being beaten up for six, seven hours straight, and they threatened my life and my family."

He says "they told me they're going to kill me and my family soon. That is a fear."

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