Deadly Interactions: Refugees and Denial of Access to Health Care in Cyprus – An Open Letter to the European Union Court of Human Rights
To the European Union Court of Human Rights:
We are writing to you concerning the life-threatening medical situation facing an asylum-seeker in Cyprus. A refugee is in the process of dying a slow and painful death due to the Cypriot government’s practice of functionally denying medical care to refused asylum-seekers. (1)
Illegally-detained Iranian Refugees in Cyprus Receive Offers of Conditional Release; One Asylum Case Re-opened
Our contacts in the Cyprus Refugee Rights Movement have informed us that on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, three of the detained asylum-seekers in Central Nicosia Prison received letters of release from detention. Ghassem Navkhouri and Reza Hamzeh have received leave to stay for 6 months, after which they are required to present their passports to the migration office [this is a precursor to deportation]. Seyed Reza Seyedi has received what is known as a „one-piece paper;“ he is to present himself to the Migration Office to receive an alien book, and his asylum case is to be reopened.
It’s Time to Come to the Streets Worldwide Again This June. Free All Political Prisoners! Not One More Execution!
The prisons of the Islamic Republic are overflowing with people detained for political reasons. The Islamic Republic is executing people at an apalling rate, most recently Mohammad and Abdollah Fathi, young brothers who were executed because their family members were political activists. Now their mother has been added to the ranks of political prisoners: she was arrested at their funeral.
Activists gathered outside the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington DC to protest against the illegal and inhumane violations of the rights of Iranian and other refugees in Cyprus on 8 May 2011. The demonstration was organized by Mission Free Iran and supported by local Iranian activists and the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees.
Zypern:Cypriot Authorities Arbitrarily Detain Parents, Illegally Remove Child from Their Care: One Iranian Family’s Story Represents Cypriot Government’s Institutionalized Abuse of Refugees
A group of Iranian refugees are currently on hunger strike in a prison called Larnaca on the small island nation of Cyprus. First among their demands is the immediate release of fellow refugee Hossein, detained in Limassol Prison, and his wife Roghayeh, who had been detained in Limassol Prison but now lies in coma in the hospital as a result of the abuses of the Cypriot authorities; and the immediate unification of these parents with their 3-year-old child.
Iranian refugees in Cyprus, like refugees around the world, have long endured the lack of rights and the exploitation that comes without having a recognized legal status within society. Yet while the dire circumstance of Iranian refugees in places like Turkey and Greece are better known, a veil of silence is draped across the abuses of human rights inflicted on refugees in Cyprus.
Iranian refugees themselves have been working hard to break that silence. They have climbed to the tops of water towers to demand their rights. They are organizing themselves to demand their rights online. And when they are illegally detained in places like Larnaca and Limassol, they protest inside of the prisons.
Iranian refugees illegally detained in Larnaca and Limassol prisons have been on hunger strike during the past month to protest the egregious violation of their human rights. While the strikes have largely been forced to an end, the detained parents of a child who was illegally taken by the government of Cyprus and given to a local Cypriot family continue – although they have both been hospitalized as a result of the toll the hunger strike has taken on them.
A group of Iranian asylum-seekers who are illegally detained in Limassol, Cyprus, have gone on hunger strike to demand the return of a refugee’s child who has been illegally given to another family; the release from detention of all asylum-seekers who are being held for no other reason than in relation to an expired passport or visa; and the review and correction of their asylum-seekers‘ files with the assistance of a competent translator other than the one believed by the asylum-seekers to be collaborating with the Islamic Republic.
These are their profiles, showing that they are victims of arbitrary and illegal detention by the government of Cyprus. None of them has had their rights as refugees upheld, and both UNHCR and the government of Cyprus should be held responsible.
We have been informed that since Monday, April 11, 2011, several Iranian refugees detained at the Limassol Police Station in Cyprus have gone on hunger strike in protest against the inhumane violation of their rights.
Among the refugees being detained include Mohsen Avardoudri, 53 years old, who is reported to have suffered a heart attack on April 12, 2011. Although he was taken to the hospital, he was returned to the detention center within a single day, and his health continues to decline. Another detainee has swallowed 18 razor blades as a form of protest against his detention, and he is also in poor condition. Mr. Hossein Hosseininejad Seresty has also been sent to the hospital after 22 days of hunger strike in protest against the Cypriot government’s decision to illegally place his young child in the custody of a local family. Other Iranian refugees being detained solely because of their refugee status report that they have contracted Hepatitis C as a result of detention at the Limassol, Cyprus police station.
The rights of Iranian and other refugees are being violated by the Cypriot government in ways that are both egregiously inhumane and also illegal under international law. ICRIR will continue to inform the public about the situation for Iranian refugees in Cyprus. We support the efforts of these refugees to defend their rights at the same time that we encourage them to finish their hunger strike and end any related actions that cause self-harm.
Members of the ICRIR include Action for Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East, International Federation for Iranian Refugees, Iranian Refugees Action Network, Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.