All Is Quiet In Aleppo’

Hundreds of Syrians across Russia face this kind of statements, getting denial of temporary asylum in territorial bodies of Federal Migration Service. A lawyer of Human Rights Center Memorial Maivand Abdul Gani and his applicant, Shava Mohamed, a Syrian from Aleppo, were able to achieve justice: courts of both levels acknowledged that the war in Syria continues and the return of refugees is unwarranted.

All Is Quiet In Aleppo’

Syrian Shava Mohamed lives in Moscow region for a long time. He arrived in 2006 to do business in Russia; he entered on visa, taking clothes to Russia and selling it here. In 2012 he suspended his business and decided to go back home, but the fighting had already begun in Syria. By September, 2012 more than 250 thousand people left Syria and Shava turned out to be a refugee sur place; the war at home found him in Russia and he was forced to apply for asylum here.

Shava Mohamed received a certificate which granted him a temporary asylum in Russia with a permission to work legally. Therefore, immediately after receiving his documents Shava was employed at a furniture factory in a small town Losino-Petrovskiy in Moscow region. He did little money but it was enough for food and a room in dormitory.

“I have no children and my parents… I can’t find them”, said Shava Mohamed. “They were in Turkey, in refugee camp, then they decided to flee to Europe. I don’t know what way, by sea or by land. I don’t have news from them for several months. I have no one left in Syria. And here I have my brother, he has already got a residence permit.”

In 2014, Shava Mohamed temporay asylum was prolonged. In 2015, a month before the expiry of the certificate, Shava once again applied to Federal Migration Service in Moscow region. But in May he was denied with reference to Part 1 Article 12 of the Federal Law “On refugees”: “due to elimination of circumstamces that served a basis for granting temporary asylum.”

“I was literally told that; you can go back. At home, in Aleppo, all is quite”, said Shava Mohamed. Dusagreed with the denial, in June, 2015, he filed a brief complaint in Lyuberetskiy court. “FMS representative at trial had very weak arguments”, said the lawyer of Migration and Law Network of the Human Rights Center Memorial Maivand Abdul Gani, who represented interests of Shava Mohamed. ”He said that Shava stays here due to economic reasons, that the war is over, that there is no fighting in Aleppo, referring to information provided by FMS. Our situation was not easy; UNHCR  statement on Syria, dated October, 2014, was referred as obsolete in the courts, and the new one hadn’t been alreday released. But we asked FMS representative a simple question: whether Russian army is involved in fighting in Syria? He said yes. So, the fighting still goes on there. And then the judge interrupted us, ruling in favour of the refugee.”

Lyuberetskiy City Court upheld the claim and ordered FMS in Moscow region to extend Shava’ s temporary asylum of for one year. The judge pointed out that situation in Syria since the time when the previous temporary asylum was granted has not changed for better. Moreover, it even worsened.

But Shava Mohamed failed once again to get the documents; for seven months he went to FMS in Moscow region, waiting for the answer, then he found out that FMS lodged an appeal before Moscow Regional Court.

But on January, 13, the Regional court regected FMS complaint. This was a victory for Shava Mohamed; he can obtain again temporary asylum in Russia in the nearest future. “I’m very happy, of course. While I didn’t have the documents, I was contantly stopped by police, which asked me for money”, says Shava. “I didn’t know what to do in the case of denial. But I was fortunate. First thing I’ll do, when I get the certificate, I’ll go to the doctor. I was diagnosed stones in the kindneys, it’s high time for me to begin the treatment. And I couldn’t do it without documents.”

Unfortunately, not all refugees are able to defend their right for asylum; court often rules in favour of FMS employees. Migration Service in its turn often insists: Syrians leave their country only for economic reasons. Though even in the denial to Shava Mohamed FMS noted that the fighting is going on and they are ready to give asylum but only to Circassian, Kurds or Armenians, said Maivand Abdul Gani. He also said:

“We managed to win in both courts because the judges’ position was neutral. They were trying to investigate, making questions to FMS employees and insisting that they answer. I spoke about what was going on in Syria. But even FMS representatives coudn’t deny the fact that millions of people are now on the borders of Europe, that Russia takes part in fighting in Syria, that ISIS is moving forward. I suppose it played a crucial role.”

By Elena Srapyan, Civic Assistance Committee

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