Freitag, 20. November 2009

Iranian refugees in hungerstrike since the 19.10.09 in athens

“Hello! Let me introduce myself. I am Mahmeud, one of the Iranian political refugees
that United Nations High Committee for the Refugees has already recognized as political refugees at 2006.
But, unfortunately, since we entered Greece and applied for asylum from the state, about 2 years ago, we haven’t got any answer yet. That’s why we started hunger strike on 19 October. This is a peaceful protest to show them that we want our rights.
They just gave us a red card but you know that red card is nothing and whenever they want they don’t renew it.
When we go to Petrou Ralli, we are constantly insulted from the police. People from Pakistan and Afghanistan are insulted even more than us. Greece is very different from the other west European countries, especially as far as the way they treat immigrants and refugees is concerned. Most of our friends with same cases who went to Germany, Switzerland, England and France were recognized as refugees and they were put in camps with housing facilities and were paid 300 euro monthly and they could also take classes to learn the country’s language.
In Greece everything is different.
For example, if we enter this country from one island, like Samos, they send us to a camp,
which is in fact a prison, and if you are an Iranian, you have to stay there between 1 to 3 months and if you are an Afghany, you have to stay there between 1 week to 10 days.
It depends on how much money the European Union pays to Greece for refugees from different countries and on the relationship between Greece and the country of the refugee.
Then, after they take our pictures and fingerprints, they give us a paper that writes that we have to leave this country in one month.
But, you know, according to the Dublin agreement, if they take your fingerprints in a country of the E.U., you have to stay in this country and if you are caught in another country of the E.U., they send you back to the first country.
As a result, we cannot stay in Greece, we cannot go legally to another country of the E.U. and we also cannot return to Iran because we are considered national enemies there and we will face the danger of imprisonment or execution.
After that, they give us the red card and that’s all. I know that the Greek government gets a lot of money from the E.U. for the refugees but they never gave them to us.
Also, the UNHCR didn’t send us to a country with the proper facilities and so I had to pay 1000$ to a smuggler to bring me from Iraq to Turkey and 1200$ to another to come from Turkey to Greece. I borrowed this money from my family in Iran.
After I paid so much money and had too much suffer, I was very happy to see the European Union’s flag in the first Greek island I arrived at.

I thought that the suffering was finished and that I could continue my life safe and comfortable. I told the Greek committee for refugees that I need shelter for the coming winter but they ignored me.

So, I stayed in an old building near Omonia square (Efetio), which was in a very bad condition. There wasn’t electricity or water and we used a small window to enter and exit because the main door was locked. The building was very dirty because it was used as a public toilet by the people. And in winter, we got sick because of the cold. Sometimes, other immigrants were mugging us and abusing us.
We took some pictures of the building and we send them to the media and then the police violently evacuated the building. Now, the building is sealed and guarded by the police. After that, we had to live in parks and in the street. The Greek government hasn’t built any facilities where we could learn Greek language, that’s why we couldn’t find a job.
I don’t know how much we have to wait until they give us asylum and live in this country like all the other people…”

We are political refugees from Iran, protected by the special status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We cannot return to Iran because we face the danger of imprisonment or even a sentence to death, nor can we go legally to another country.
Although we are re recognised as political refugees, the Greek state refuses to give us our legal rights and at the same time gets funds from the European Union without using this money to support the refugees.
We demand the international regulations to be implemented and the Greek state give us all the required papers (white card, travel documents).
We request the help and the support of individuals and organisations in Greece and all other european countries.
We go on a hunger strike on Monday 19 October, in Propilaia, Athens protesting peacefully until the satisfaction of our demands.