Thousands Flee Iran as Noose Tightens
Wall Street Journal

The United Nations says more than 4,200 Iranians world-wide have sought refugee status since Iran's controversial June presidential vote and bloody street violence. This provincial Turkish town -- near the famed carved-rock dwellings of Cappadocia that harbored outcasts in millennia past -- is home to 543 Iranians seeking asylum.

After sometimes spending weeks hiding in and hopping between safe houses, Iranians have turned up in countries as far away as Australia, Canada and Sweden. They typically seek refugee status.

"What good can a lawyer do in Iran if she is in jail?" says Nikahang Kousar, an Iranian political cartoonist in Toronto who formed an "underground railroad" of sorts to advise and assist other

A spokesman with Iran's U.N. mission in New York declined to comment on the refugees or their claims of repression or violence.

Iran's refugee exodus is exacerbating a brain drain that has stunted the country's development for years. Mr. Dabashi, the Columbia professor, says he has fielded hundreds of inquiries from students in Iran wanting to study overseas -- more than 20 times the rate of previous years. "It's mind-boggling how many extremely accomplished young people are trying to come abroad," he says.

Not all defectors are necessarily politically active. Two athletes from the national wrestling and karate teams, a well-known anchor on state television and a young film director have applied... >>>

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