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Dublin mum trapped in 'Iran hell' for five years with daughter

THIS Dublin mum has finally returned home after almost five years of "hell" in Iran with her six-year-old daughter.

Masoomeh Hezari -known as Sami - was trapped in Iran after her former partner took their daughter Rojha's Iranian passport and refused to give permission for Rojha to leave the country.

Iranian-born Sami (43) first came to Ireland in 1995 and worked as an accountant for a number of firms and gained citizenship 10 years later.

Her relationship with Rojha's father broke down and he returned to Iran, but Rojha's surname on her passport was under her father's name.

Sour

In 2010, Sami travelled to Iran with Rojha so her former partner could complete the required paperwork. But things turned sour when Rojha's father wouldn't allow her to leave.

Sami and Rojha were effectively trapped as under Iranian law a child needs her father's permission to leave the country.

"I had gone from having this very good in life in Ireland where I was working and happy with Rojha, to all of a sudden being trapped in Iran," Sami said.

Sami contacted the Irish embassy in Tehran but was told there was nothing that could be done to help her. So she found work as a lecturer of English at a leading university.

She was determined to return her and made four separate attempts to escape. On one occasion, she attempted to flee with Rojha through the Zagros mountains into Iraq.

"We were climbing for hours. We had to go up over 3,000m and Rojha was very sick," Sami said.

"At one point, we came to a check point with men who aimed their guns at us. We had no choice but turn back."

Last month, Sami paid $10,000 (€8,031) to three "people smugglers" to take her over the border to Iraq and help her return to Ireland.

"They said 'everything will be fine, we have everything looked after'. But there was no car waiting for me on the other side," she said. "They had told me it would be just us, but there was maybe 10 or 20 others."

"We were all loaded up into a truck first, then we were told we had to all get out. We had to trek 10km or 15km," she said.

Sami said she was terrified for her daughter but eventually both she and Rojha were allowed through and took refuge with a kind Kurdish family.

She eventually got passport stamps for herself and Rojha from the British embassy after the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed she was an Irish citizen.

Ryanair

"We got a flight from Iraq to London Gatwick and then on to Dublin," she said. "But we didn't have our boarding card printed or the right bag, so Ryanair charged us more."

Sami, now living Dublin, is finding it difficult to settle back into life in Ireland.

"It's difficult because we've been away so long," she said. "But I'm so grateful to the British embassy and the Irish government for helping us get home. Now we can start afresh."

hnews@herald.ie


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