Family's heartfelt appeal to government: 'Let us stay'
"WE ARE not criminals."
That's the message the Piri family have for the Australian Government as they face being deported back to Iran.
Shamsullah Piri and his wife Zainab are Kurdish Iranians who arrived by boat to Australia in August 2012, and have been living in the Gatton community since then on a bridging visa.
They are members of the Kurdish miniority group in Iran and claim they had faced persecution in the Middle Eastern country with little access to medical services or legal rights.
While they are married, they do not have a marriage certificate which means they are unable to even walk together in Iran.
The couple recently received news their application for a temporary protection visa had been rejected, meaning they faced the real prospect of being deported to Iran.
What makes this even scarier for them is they have welcomed two young boys to their family during their time in Australia, and Zainab has converted to Christianity.
She worries her new faith means she will be persecuted further on her return.
"If they send me back I know they (Iran's government) will kill me. It's easy for them," Zainab said.
Lockyer Multicultural Association president Margaret Cole has been helping them and is concerned for their safety.
"I'm concerned because they go back to a system with two little boys, who will have problems with schooling and medical help and they go back with Zainab as a Christian, in a Muslim country and it's very much ruled by Islamic religion," Ms Cole said.
"I'm worried she could be persecuted, jailed or killed."
Zainab said she and her husband did not come to Australia simply for economic reasons.
"I just looking for a safe place for my family, it doesn't matter where," she said.
Ms Cole called on the Immigration Minister to consider the Piri's case and allow them to stay.
A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs said the department did not comment on individual cases, but that "all claims for protection are assessed on their individual merits".
"Applicants for a Protection visa must satisfy Australia's protection obligations, and meet all other visa criteria, including health, security and character," the spokesperson said.
"The Department only removes a person where this is consistent with Australia's international obligations."