Two Afghan asylum seekers have been on hunger strike in Helsinki from the 10th of September. For the first two weeks there were three hunger strikers. They have been refused asylum. By going on hunger strike they are opposing their deportation to Afghanistan, for they have reason to believe that their lives are in danger there. They ask Finland to offer them protection. The men have demonstrated and camped in front of the Finnish Parliament for almost two months now. Their health condition is worsening all the time. They have both suffered of acute pains and occasional attacks of illness. In addition the autumn in Finland is cold and the first snow has already fallen.
The hunger striking men are prosecuted in Afghanistan because of political activity. One of them has been tortured. Their close relatives have been murdered recently. The background of their individual prosecution in Afghanistan is the war that has been going on in the country for years and the dysfunction of the current government. Ordinary people have no way of getting protection neither against prosecution carried out by the Taliban nor against that carried out by state officials.
The Finnish authorities have not responded to the protesters’ demands for international protection nor have they showed any other signs of willingness to help. The hunger striking men have appealed to the Administrative Court of Helsinki about the negative response to their asylum claims but fear that the appeal will be rejected.
The hunger strikers’ protest has gained attention and many responses. A group of Lutheran priests as well as the Occupy Finland –movement have demonstrated on their behalf. A few MP’s have pled for them. Many Afghan and Iranian asylum seekers and residents have offered their support or willingness to join the protest camp. Priests, doctors and activists have contacted the Minister of Interior Päivi Räsänen urging her to act on the asylum seekers’ behalf before it is too late. Grassroots activists from the Vapaa Liikkuvuus (Freedom of Movement) –network and other individuals have supported the men in practical issues and in spreading word about their struggle. We have made sure that a supporter stays overnight at the protest camp every night in case of emergency. During the days we spend a lot of time at the tents discussing together and monitoring the men’s health condition. In addition we get needed supplies and try to arrange proper health care for the strikers.
Our common goal is to broaden the struggle and to affect the rights of all asylum seekers.
The Freedom of Movement –network demands that international support be granted to the men. The Finnish migration authorities have made a wrong decision and they must right it immediately.
The hunger strikers have had to live in inhumane circumstances in Europe for many years. They have entered the EU via Greece which doesn’t have even the most basic asylum system.
Finland does not send asylum seekers back to Greece. It does, however, deport tens of asylum seekers to Afghanistan each year to areas that have been labeled safe.
These are the hunger strikers’ demands:
Stop deportations to Afghanistan – The country is not safe and refugees coming from there must be granted protection in Europe.
An end to years of waiting – Asylum requests have to be processed quickly and justly.
No to the Dublin treaty – Deportations inside the EU must be stopped and asylum seekers must be granted the right to choose in which country they request asylum.
We are thankful for any information on your country’s policies regarding Afghan asylum seekers as well as on the asylum seekers’ struggles for their rights.
We are also willing to work on international action to end deportations to Afghanistan and other means of co-operation.
the Freedom of Movement –network,
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