The Hunger Strike of a Number of Iranian Asylum Seekers in Athens
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- On July 31, 2010
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Open letter to the Greek government
One of Them Has Stitched His Lips Together
A group of Iranian refugees have been on hunger strike since July 25 in front of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Athens after a meeting with the Greek Deputy Minister for the Interior. They were told by the Deputy Minister that Greece cannot grant them refugee status due to the very close, friendly relations between Iran and his country. He also said that there were over 3 thousand Iranian asylum seekers in Greek prisons for having committed crimes.
The unbearable condition of asylum seekers in Greece is no secret to anyone in the least familiar with refugee questions around the world. They enjoy no benefits except for a red card, to be renewed every 6 months, as proof of their temporary residence in the country. The police treatment of them seems to be unspeakable. Dozens are said to be beaten and/or dishonored, and those in detention centers brutalized, by the police on a daily basis.
The IFIR is making every effort to bring the plight of the asylum seekers in Greece to the attention of the world, including millions of Iranian refugees and immigrants. The plights of individuals such as Reza Kamaali, Hosein Rostami, Sa’id Mahmoodi, Mohammad Azimi, Abdollah Bakhtiaari, Amir-Hosein Abdolmaleki, Faraj Gholaami, Saadegh Faraahaani are real and must be objected to by all conscious people across the world. The Greek government must be condemned for its treatment of refugees. The scenes of the Iranian refugees’ hunger strike, in general, and that of Saadegh Faraahaani’s sewed lips, in particular, are so distressing that make any human being’s hair stand on end.
The IFIR calls on all human rights organizations, the Greek people and all Iranians living abroad to show compassion for the striking refugees and support their demands. Iranian refugees around the world have fled the atrocious regime of Islamic Republic. They have fled a regime with pre-medieval laws and tribunals that sentence human beings to dismemberment, stoning, gouging of the eye, and a whole catalogue of other barbaric punishments unheard of in the modern world. They have fled a regime that executes children, homosexuals, ‘apostates’, ‘renegades’, ‘heretics’, ‘infidels’, believers in other faiths, dissenters, and so on, and so for forth. They have fled a regime that tolerates no degree of political dissent. They have fled a regime that shoots to kill peaceful demonstrators or runs them over and murder them with its police trucks in broad daylight and in front of thousands of cameras. They have fled a regime that atrociously tortures political prisoners for extraction of fake confessions. In short, they have fled a regime of murderers, indeed. That is why the striking asylum seekers in Athens are worthy of our most hear-felt support.
Nevertheless, the IFIR does not believe in hunger strike as an appropriate way out of the harsh refugee physical and emotional conditions. Those who choose hunger strike as a method of struggle have simply lost their hope and vision of a better life and opt for this method as a last resort, whereas, in any struggle, the goal must be clear from the beginning. It must be clear beforehand why we go on hunger strike, that is, it must be clear what we intend to achieve in terms of the change we want to bring about in our life. Again, in any struggle, the starting and the ending points must planned in advance. Refugees become refugees in order to save their life and guarantee their survival. Whereas a hunger strike for an unknown period of time can harm a refugee’s body and soul in ways that may never heal as long as s/he will live.
The IFIR, calls, therefore, on the striking asylum seekers in Athens to end their hunger strike in order to preserve their stamina to continue their struggles. We implore Saadegh Faraahaani, in particular, to get his stitches removed by a doctor, and to carry on his campaign employing less costly methods. At the same time we assure all asylum seekers in Greece that the IFIR will support your legitimate, humane demands with everything in its organizational and social power.
International Federation of Iranian Refugees
31 July, 2010
Box 11103 404 23 Göteborg
Tel: 073 717 88 19