Feminist film producer Mahshid Ahangarani Farahani came to Canada from Iran to study almost 20 years ago. Shortly thereafter, she applied for and was granted refugee status due to the deteriorating political situation in her homeland and the fears she had of being persecuted for having opposed the regime.

Now, after almost two decades of living peacefully in Canada, the long-time North York resident is unexpectedly facing deportation back to Iran, where her films are banned and a warrant is out for her arrest, says her immigration lawyer Hana Marku.

Her deportation may not be imminent - Canada has paused removal orders to Iran as that country is experiencing a humanitarian crisis – but the threat hangs over her just the same.

“I’m definitely on the (government’s) radar. … I’m fully expecting (that) once I return I will be arrested and who knows what could happen next,” Farahani told CP24.com during an interview late last week.

“In Iran, when you go behind bars you don’t know what will happen the next day … and nobody is responsible. … Humans have no value for the Iranian government. People get killed (there) easily.”

Farahani attended and spoke at rallies in downtown Toronto opposing Iran’s human rights abuses last summer.

She said that she’s worried that the potential danger she could face if returned to Iran could be used as leverage to force her filmmaker mother, Manijeh, and sister, Pegah, an actor, who both fled the country in 2020, to return and face persecution themselves.

“We are frightened that just by her sheer family association that Mahshid will be a target, that’s she’ll be sent to prison and there’s nothing that the Canadian government can do for her,” her lawyer Marku said.

Farahani’s lawyers have suggested that the issues she is now facing with her status in Canada have to do with her travels back to Iran over the last two decades.

Recognized as a refugee in 2005 and granted permanent residency here three years later, Farahani has visited her homeland several times since coming to Canada.

She returned to work on films that criticize the Iranian regime. She went to Iran on other occasions to take care of her ailing mom and support her sister through her legal challenges, which included time spent in the notorious Evin prison. Another time, she went back after her family’s property and their filmmaking equipment were allegedly seized by the Iranian government, Marku said.

“There was always a reason why I returned to Iran and I never had any intention to live (there),” said Farahani, who said it is her “dream” to become a Canadian citizen.

“There’s no opportunity for any people there. Nobody can live there. Everyone wants to leave.” >>>