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Statement by the International Federation of Iranian Refugees on the Striking Asylum Seekers in Greece

The refugee detention centers in Greece are packed with Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers. It is reported that refugees, the sick and the healthy, are crammed into salons at decaying old detention centers. These locales have nothing in common with modern facilities, especially in Europe, and are totally unhygienic, unwholesome environments. The intolerable conditions of detention centers have brought the refugees to the verge of insanity. Those who have been released from them have reported that they had been not only languishing in unhealthy, squalid and deadly dull conditions but also from time to time severely assaulted by the police.

Why should, especially in a European country, the escapees from such hells as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan be driven to sewing their lips in a battle to defend just their natural right to life?! The refugees in Greece are rotting away in constant fear of not having any stay permit, job, housing, health services, and so on. There is no responsible office or authority to deal with their plight or protest and simply ask them, ‘what are the problems that have driven you to this protest sit-in for over 50 days?’

It should be emphasized that during 22 years of its existence the IFIR has relentlessly defended the refugees from a progressive perspective as humans sans phrase, i.e., independent of their faith, political affiliation, race, ethnicity and gender. By the same token it has never encouraged such forms of protest as hunger strike or lip-sewing. However, it is the Greek government and the inhuman atmosphere it has created for the refugees that have forced those innocent human beings into an unjust, baleful death-or-freedom struggle.

In view of the above the IFIR demands that:

1- the process of reviewing the applications of all the asylum seekers in Greece begin immediately;

2- the Greek government provide health care to the striking refugees so that they can regain their heath and normal life process;

3- the Greek government and police forces immediately cease the practice of periodic assault of the asylum seekers, their irregular, protracted detentions, and deporting the Iranian refugees back to Iran;

4- as Greece is a member of EU as well as a refugee-accepting country, the asylum seekers in that country too must be cared for financially and medically; be granted work permit; be provided with housing; enjoy the right to legal counsel and protection;

5- while the Greek government refuses to observe the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in that country, the rest of EU member states not deport to Greece those who enter their countries via Greece. Further, in view of the IFIR the dispatching of Frontex guards to Greece’s northern border with Turkey is aligned with the very Greek government’s current inhuman refugee policies as a result of which many an asylum seeker will suffer severely, as well as the condition of refugees in Turkey will worsen significantly;

6- The IFIR calls on the EU states to exclude Greece – for its appalling maltreatment of refugees and asylum seekers – from Dublin II agreement of 2003 and grant the asylum seekers who enter other EU countries through Greece the permission to have their cases reviewed in those same countries without the fear of being deported to Greece.

International Federation of Iranian Refugees
October 29, 2010

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