When Their Lives were on the Line I Left No Stone Unturned.
Political Refugees Threatened with Torture and Death in Iran.
I was thirty-one in April of 1985 when I moved to Boston to help start a pro bono project to represent refugees seeking political asylum in the United States.
The wars and revolutions in Central America were the main motivation for establishing the Equal Justice
Institute, but within months of my arrival, I undertook the defense of three young Iranian men who had been placed in Immigration Detention.
They were simply trying to reach Canada, but were pulled off the plane at JFK airport. I did not speak their language,
and had to recruit translators and expert witnesses to present their stories. Later, a fourth young man from Iran was added
to the group, after he was pulled off of his plane. Despite our expert witnesses and piles of documentation on the fate that
awaited them if deported to Iran, the immigration judges turned a cold and indifferent eye to their plight. Unwilling to
abandon my young clients to a terrible fate, I wrote an account of their experiences, and sent it to human rights organizations and media outlets.
My account was published in a book, "Mother of Exiles",
and their stories appeared on the televison program "West 57th Street", and in the Boston Globe and the Providence Journal-Bulletin,
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees contributed a letter stating that they
appeared to have strong cases, and that their continued detention was unjustified.
After more than a year in detention centers, jails and prisons around the country,
they were finally released to go to Nova Scotia as political refugees.
Speaking at the rally in LaFayette
Park, Washington, D.C., June 25, 1986.
The book which included my
account of their flight and
The poster created by their supporters in the community for the rally in front of the White House.
The happy clients with their lawyer.