Daily Mail: In a desperate attempt to have their asylum claims accepted by the UK government, four Iranians have sewn their mouths shut with fishing wire and gone on hunger strike with two others.
By Ted Thornhill
In a desperate attempt to have their asylum claims accepted by the UK government, four Iranians have sewn their mouths shut with fishing wire and gone on hunger strike with two others.
The men have not eaten for 20 days and have set up a makeshift camp outside the Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon, south London.
The British government is planning on sending them back to Tehran, but the men claim that their lives would be in danger if that happened, as they all took part in protests against the Iranian regime in 2009 and were beaten, tortured and even raped as a result.
Mahyar Meyari, who is 17, explained how he was arrested and given brutal treatment after taking part in a demonstration.
‘I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week,’ he told The Guardian.’ I was hit on the head by batons many times … and even raped. I prefer to die here than going back to Iran.’
Another protester, Keyvan Bahari, 32, says he feels their actions are a last resort to make the UK authorities take notice of their plight.
He told the paper: ‘We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way. Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.’
Mahyar added: ‘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 other protesters are Mahyar’s brother, Mehran, 20, Morteza Bayat, 30 and Ahmad Sadeghi – and their case has been taken up by the Iranian Refugees Action Network.
The charity, which has launched an online petition in support of them, said: ‘They have recently had their asylum applications turned down by the UK, despite overwhelming evidence that they would be almost certain to be imprisoned, and even executed, if forced to return to Iran. All of them are here in the UK seeking refuge from the Iranian regime, which has persecuted them for their political beliefs.’
However, the UK Border Agency claims the men have all been given fair treatment. A spokesman told The Guardian: ‘They all had access to free legal advice as well as a designated UK Border Agency case owner who considered their case on its individual merits.
‘We take every asylum application seriously. The men were given every opportunity to make their representations to us as well as a right to appeal the decision to the courts.’
It’s understood that some of the protesters are having their cases taken through an appeal process.