Iranian Political Asylum Seekers Launch Campaign for FreedomOctober 28, 2010
“The Campaign of Iranian Political Refugees in Greece asks Iranians and supporters to stand in front of Greek embassies to show their solidarity with the hunger strikers.” To contact the Campaign email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past 57 days, the Iranian embassy in Greece has had to deal with the burden of Iranian asylum seekers on hunger strike and, in turn, the Greek government has felt the pressures from international organizations to take a stance on the situation. The asylum seekers endure hard conditions of wind and rain as they await action by the Greek government.
The Campaign for Iranian Political Refugees in Greece was launched almost two months ago. Its members are the Iranians hoping to gain asylum status, because returning to Iran is not an option for them. They have made it clear with chants of “down with the principle of the Supreme Leadership” that their struggle has shaped into a political one against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Over forty of the campaign members are on hunger strike for more than two weeks now. Eight of them have sewn their lips in further demonstration of resistance to the lack of action by the government of Greece.
The campaign, according to one of its members, is about Iranians around the world standing in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Greece. In a video posted on Facebook, the same member explained that the campaign’s goal is not just about attaining passports, rather, it stands against the repression of a regime that stones, executes, and tortures. One of the campaign’s statements reads that the hunger strikers hope to serve as examples for Iranians inside and outside the country.
Based on recently published internet video clips, members also aim to expose the close and friendly relationship between the Iranian regime and the Greek government:
Erfan, one of the Iranian asylum seekers, told Persian2English that the campaign requests from international organizations to answer their cries, because their voices are being silenced in Greece. He stated that based on available evidence, the Iranian and the Greek police work together on refugee issues. He added that Iranians who are caught upon arrival to Greece are identified and could face deportation or risk getting issued a false charge of drug smuggling, which is used as an excuse to issue long prison sentences.
According to Erfan, the victory of the campaign is for everyone. He stated, “God forbid if we fail in our struggle, the efforts of freedom lovers will be questioned. It is the duty of Iranians to get involved and come forward.”
The Campaign of Iranian Political Refugees in Greece asks Iranians and supporters to stand in front of Greek embassies to show their solidarity with the hunger strikers.
Last Wednesday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, warned that the Greek asylum system is “dysfunctional” and has created “catastrophic” conditions for refugees. During a 10-day fact finding mission in which he visited dozens of prisons, police stations, hospitals and administrative detention centres, he found detainees who had been locked up for up to six months in overcrowded, filthy cells, with very bad ventilation and lighting. Access to medical care, lawyers and interpreters was also very limited. The Special Rapporteur said he received “numerous consistent allegations” of beatings by police officers, but that there was “little forensic evidence” to corroborate them.
Recent videos from the Campaign for Iranian Political Refugees in Greece
Video 1: Greek authorities attack and yell at the Iranian asylum seekers, “This is Greece and we will do whatever we want.”
Video 2: October 17, 2010 at 6:00pm: Mandana, who is on hunger strike and who has sewn her lips shut, began to feel ill and was transferred to the hospital.
Video 3: A video clip of the tents set up by the Iranian asylum seekers.
Video 4: October 19, 2010: Supporters show their solidarity with the Iranian hunger strikers. Various Greek groups attended in support of human rights and the Campaign.
Video 5: October 20, 2010: AFP interviews one of the members of the Iranian political campaign in Athens, Greece
Video 6: October 24, 2010: University students in Greece show their solidarity and support for the Iranian asylum seekers on hunger strike.
Photo Gallery of Greece Hunger Strike, October 2010
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT | Introduction by a hunger strike campaign member: “Today is the 24th of October, 2010, and this is an important meeting between the members of the Iranian Political Hunger Strikers Campaign in Athens. This is Mr. Ashkan Yousefi, an Iranian political activist, who is against the Islamic regime of Iran and has been with this campaign since the 1st of September and has helped this campaign, and we start the meeting with his speech.”
Ashkan Yousefi: “Thank you very much. There is some information about the campaign of hunger strike of Iranians in Athens. About the 1st of September, the Iranian Asylum Seekers came together, about 45 members with 9 children, and they came together and they wanted to have a peaceful strike against the silence of the Greek government about their asylum. They are asking to receive an answer from the Greek government [in regard] to their asylum and they went on this peaceful strike for about 44 days, but unfortunately since, the Greek governzzzment didn’t pay any attention to their requests, even though [the strike is] in peace and had nothing against the government. The governments, they don’t respond and didn’t take any actions toward them. So the Iranian asylum seekers’ campaign finally decided to go [on] a hunger strike stage, as they have announced before, they [will] go on it. So, they did start the hunger strike, as they told me, nine days ago, and eight members of this campaign, including a woman with one child, a man with three children and his family, they started sewing their mouths with stitches, closing their mouths. As a symbol of our closed lips, it’s a response to the Greek government’s silence. So they have sewed their mouths for nine days, and went on hunger strike, besides the children, but the Greek government until now, until today, has not responded at all to their cases and their asylums.
As the days go by, the members of this campaign who are on hunger strike, one by one fall down [as a result of physical health deterioration], especially the members who have sewed their mouths, they unfortunately get weaker and weaker, and especially during the first days when they sewed their mouth, they fainted a lot, then the Greek government did not let them use an ambulance, a public ambulance for the hospital, they had to rent one. Unfortunately, that [ambulance] went away too, after two days, due to lack of money, financial problems, and also the ambulance left them without informing them. So if anyone here, anybody here, faints or has a problem, these people are stuck with this problem of “What do we do next?”. As I was talking with them, most of them, they keep asking from themselves, “Until when can we continue? Until when will the Greek government stay silenced and not pay any attention to us?” because the Iranian Refugees case is different basically than others since we are facing the most dangerous and the most fascist regime of the Earth.
The leader of the Islamic government of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei has given this new law that anybody that does any sort of activity outside of Iran is sentenced to death. So, these people [the hunger strikers] feel no insurance, they don’t have any security, even in Greece, since the Greek Prime Pinister, Mr. Papandreou, has shaken hands with the most dangerous man of the Earth, Ahmadinejad, in New York. Also, when the campaign learned that the Head Police of Greece had gone to the Embassy of Iran, the Islamic Republic, and shaken hands with the Head Police of Iran! What did they have to do together in this country [in other words, what diplomatic relations did they have]? This is the question that all these people [want] answered. This is the most dangerous fear that all of these people [asylum seekers] are facing. Since Greece and Iran have such a close and friendly relationship, they fear that maybe, maybe perhaps the Greece has betrayed them for a bunch of buckets of oil back from Iran. They are scared from this [Greek] government. They feel no insurance, and no security.
They demand an immediate answer and response from the Greek government. They demand immediate asylum from Greek government and if the Greek government cannot take care of them and cannot give them asylum, they have asked the International world, they have asked all of the countries, “Help us. Guide us and take us out of this misery and trouble. They call themselves the Iranian Hunger Strikers and as you speak with the people who have sewn their mouths, they have it said many times, and I’ll repeat it, that on today – all of these people – have not been accepted; [therefore] they will never open their mouths. First of all, we are very concerned for their health situation, since they have families, they have children with them, and also we are concerned that the Greek government will not pay any more attention to them and they ask for an immediate response to their asylums. Thank you.”
- Iranian Political Asylum Seekers Launch Campaign for Freedom | Freedom Messenger
- Iranian Asylum Seekers Demand Answers from Greek Government: TAKE ACTION! | Persian2English