Iranian hunger strikers sew their lips together in protest at UK deportation

The Guardian – Four Iranians, including a 17-year-old boy, are on hunger strike and have sewn their lips together with fishing wire in protest at plans by the British government to send them back to Tehran.

The men, who are among six protesters to have not eaten for 16 days, say they were beaten, tortured and in one case raped after taking part in anti-regime protests that swept Iran in 2009. They claim that although their lives would be in danger in Iran they have been “ignored and dismissed” by UK authorities since they sought refuge in the country last year.

“We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way,” said Keyvan Bahari, 32, who has scars across his back and arms from what he said was 12 days of being slashed with razor blades by the Iranian authorities when he was a student. “Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.”

Bahari, a former champion wrestler who ran his own training centre in Tehran, said the media and government in the UK and US had encouraged him and tens of thousands of other young people to stand up against the regime but had now “washed their hands” of the protesters.

“When I was back in Tehran, I was seeing Obama and British officials on our illegal satellite TVs, encouraging us day in day out to continue our protest,” said Bahari, who is one of three men camping on the pavement outside Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon. Speaking with difficulty through his sewn-up lips, which are already sore and infected, he said: “They said that they will support us but now that I’m stuck in here and need help, they are nowhere.”

The men say they are taking liquids, but doctors say that even so, they could deteriorate quickly, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Mahyar Meyari, 17, lying in the small tent next to Bahari, recalls how he was raped after being arrested following a demonstration on al-Quds day in 2009. “I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week. I was kicked on the head by batons many times … and even raped,” he said before breaking down.

Mahyar paid a smuggler to get him out of the country but says he did not know where he was being taken before he arrived in the UK 16 days later. “I can’t explain how I feel here, I can’t believe what’s happening to me,” said Mahyar, who does not speak English. “When I claimed asylum with the Home Office, they first didn’t believe that I’m 17 years old, they said I was lying. There’s a culture of disbelief in the Home Office, everybody thinks you are lying by default.”

The men’s asylum claims were all turned down, although some are still involved in appeals. They say they feel let down by the legal system and the lawyers appointed by the Home Office to represent them.

“I’m very discontent about my legal representation,” said Bahari. “I saw my lawyer more as a Home Office officer than a lawyer there to protect my rights. He was more looking after the rights of the Home Office.”

A government spokesman said the UK Border Agency “takes every asylum application it receives seriously” adding the men were given “every opportunity to make their representations to us as well as a right to appeal the decision to the courts”.

He added: “They all had access to free legal advice as well as a designated UK Border Agency caseowner who considered their case on its individual merits.”

However, the men say they have had very little contact with the Home Office since they began their protest and campaigners – and fellow Iranian activists – say asylum seekers are fighting a culture of disbelief across the government.

“The people who are supposed to interview asylum seekers in the Home Office, they do not interview these people, they interrogate them,” said Akbar Karimian, an Iranian activist who has been helping the group. “They search for an error or a mistake in their testimonies so that they can find a contradictory evidence to reject their claim. You imagine that the officers in a refugee organisation of this government are there to help these vulnerable people, but they are there to find a way to send them back.”

Campaigners say the UK hunger strike is a sign of the increasing desperation among Iranian asylum seekers. One man died after setting himself alight in Amsterdam this month and 25 Iranians sewed their lips together in Greece in an attempt to secure refugee status. The Medical Foundation, which is preparing a report on Meyari’s condition for his next appeal, says 293 Iranians were referred to the organisation for help in 2010.

Lying in the tent, Mahyar said the UK hunger strikers, like many fellow Iranians, were prepared for drastic action. “I prefer to die here than going back to Iran. I’ll continue this protest until somebody comes here and asks me why I’m doing this, until somebodycares about what has happened to me.”

 

Workers Fund Iran at Hamburg Marathon 2011

Supporters of Workers Fund Iran will be pounding the streets in the Hamburg marathon on May 22. They will be getting their running shoes on to raise sponsorship money for the important and unique work of this charity – can you support them?

Workers Fund Iran (WFI) was founded in December 2005 inspired by suggestions from veteran Iranian labour activist Albert Sohrabian (1927-2004). WFI aims to reduce and relieve poverty amongst Iranian workers (both employed and unemployed). This results from both the economic policies of the Iranian regime and the sanctions imposed by other countries. The charity puts at the centre of its activities the drive to rebuild international working class solidarity, directly with the workers of Iran. The charity is an independent organisation. Funds sent to Iran will be distributed amongst the most needy working class families who are facing destitution, regardless of political affiliation. We hope the funds will stop families sending their children to the streets as beggars or peddlers and selling their body parts, which is a common practice.

You can sponsor us on line using Charity Choice’s website

https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051

So far runners from England, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and USA will participate to raise funds for this cause. You can show your support by wearing Workers Fund Iran T-shirt and walking with us. If you would like to run the half marathon or the marathon with us and support our cause please send us an email workersfund@gmail.com.

طرفداران صندوق کارگری ایران در ماراتون 22 ماه می 2011خیابان های هامبورگ را به لرزه در میاورند. آنها کفش های دو به پا میکنند تا برای اهداف بزرگ این موسسۀ خیریه پول جمع آوری کنند آیا شما میتوانید از آنها حمایت کنید؟

صندوق کارگری ایران، با الهام از پیشنهادات کارگرباسابقۀ ایرانی آلبرت سهرابیان (2004-1927) بنیان گذاشته شد. صندوق کارگری ایران بر آنست که فقر را در میان کارگران ایران کاهش و نهایتا از بین ببرد ( شاغل و غیر شاغل )، فقری که نتیجۀ سیاستهای اقتصادی دولت ایران و محاصرۀ اقتصادی توسط دولتهای دیگر است. این موسسۀ خیریه، طبقۀ کارگر ایران را بمثابه مرکزفعالیت و نیروی محرکه برای بازسازی همبستگی طبقۀ کارگرجهان قرار داده است. صندوق کارگری ایران موسسه ای است مستقل. وجوه ارسالی به ایران بدون توجه به وابستگی سیاسی کارگران در میان خانوداه های کارگری که در معرض فقر قرار دارند توزیع میشود. ما امیدواریم که صندوق کارگری بتواند مانع از تکدی کودکان در خیابان ها،اعتیاد آنها به مواد مخدر و یا فروش اعضاء بدن این کودکان شود، چیزی که هم اکنون در جریان است.

شما میتوانید از طریق اینترنت و سایت زیر ما را حمایت کنید https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051

تا بحال دوندگانی از انگلستان، آمریکا، فرانسه، آلمان، ایتالیا و سوئد برای جمع آوری پول آمادۀ همکاری شده اند. شما میتوانید با پوشیدن زیرپوش صندوق کارگری و راهپیمائی با ما در هامبورگ حمایت خودتان را نشان دهید. چنانچه مایلید ماراتون یا نیمه ماراتون را با ما بدوید و حمایت خود را از اهداف صندوق کارگری نشان دهید لطفا با ایمیل زیر تماس بگیرید. workersfund@gmail.com

همبسته باد اتحاد کارگران ایران

در ماراتون هامبورگ 22 ماه مه 2011 با ما باشید

صندوق کارگری ایران



Imprisoned student activist in coma

Arash Sadeghi

According to the Daneshjoo News website, since the onset of Arash Sadeghi’s hunger strike on March 15, 2010 until the present, his physical condition has severely deteriorated. The effects of torture by government agents has been so severe that the student activist fell into a coma today, forcing the Evin prison officials to transfer him to Modarres hospital.

A few days ago, due to the tortures inflicted on Arash Sadeghi in ward 209 of Evin prison, his shoulder blade and ribs were broken. The prison guards refused to send Arash Sadeghi to the prison clinic. Instead, he was transferred to solitary confinement.

According to the Arash Sadeghi Facebook page, prison officials informed the Sadeghi family that their son passed out as a result of severe weakness.

In a phone conversation with Arash Sadeghi’s family members, security officials instructed them to not visit him in the hospital since it is not permitted. Nevertheless, Arash Sadeghi’s family still intended to go.

Translation by Persian2English