As Greece faces growing international pressure to improve its
“catastrophic” immigration system, a group of Iranian asylum seekers
have sewed their mouths shut during a hunger strike in central Athens to
press the Greek government to accept their applications for refugee
status. The 45 protesters, eight of which sewed their lips together with
medical threads, have been on hunger strike for 12 days in a makeshift
tent in front of Athens University. All say they were forced to flee
Iran after facing harassment or persecution from authorities. They claim
their treatment at the hands of Greek border police has been little
better. 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, … >>>