The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Iranian Hunger Strike

The Facebook page for the hunger strikers is here and includes a petition to sign.

Via the Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece: Iranian refugees in Athens have launched a hunger strike to demand that Greek authorities process their asylum applications, following what they say has been nine years of delay.

Rights activists say the protest highlights deficiencies in Greece’s system of granting asylum to refugees — with only about 0.04 percent of all applications being accepted every year.

Two of the five hunger strikers outside the United Nations refugee agency’s offices have refused to eat for a month.

They said Thursday they have been waiting for up to nine years for an answer to their applications.

Statement by the UNHCR

Semko Mohammadi, a member of the Union of Migrant Workers in Greece, says “they have lost the best years of their life in Greece,” adding that the men faced persecution if they returned home.

Two Iranian refugees, whose asylum claims have been pending for years, are on hunger-strike since last Thursday morning (29/7) outside the premises of UNHCR Greece. In relation to this, the Head of the Office, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, made the following statement:

“The despair of the Iranian hunger-strikers stems from the lasting problems of the asylum system in Greece, which violates the principles for a fair, efficient and effective examination of asylum applications. Their claim for a final decision about the status of political refugee is absolutely fair. It should be noted that more than 45,000 persons have been waiting for years their cases to be examined at second (and final) instance. The appeal committees, that had been operating, even in a limited way, until the fist semester of 2009, were abolished by the P.D. 81/2009. This led UNHCR to decide not to participate in the asylum procedure and criticize the relevant legislation. Today, we await the adoption of a new P.D. that, inter alia, will re-establish the appeal committees, with a view to examine all pending cases. Our Agency, which participated in the preparation of the new legislation, is trying to have the P.D. adopted before summer and for the committees to be able to start work in autumn. In addition, the new law which will transfer the asylum responsibility from the police to a civil Asylum Service should be voted by the Parliament as soon as possible.

Despite UNHCR efforts, the initiative for the adoption and implementation of these legislative changes is with the Greek State. Therefore, it would be irresponsible if we “promised” to the hunger-strikers but also to other asylum-seekers that hold a “pink card” when the appeal committees would start working again.

We have explained all the above in detail to the hunger strikers, as well as to their partners that stand by them, during repeated meetings that UNHCR staff and me personally had with them in the last two weeks. We also explained to them that we cannot help them at this stage, since there are no committees to examine their claims. The anticipated participation of UNHCR in the committees that will be created will constitute a guarantee for a more fair examination of the asylum claims. We understand fully that this explanation does not satisfy the hunger-strikers, since it does not provide an immediate solution to their problem. But this is the reality. A different response would be misleading and raise false expectations.

I would like to stress that we defend the right to a peaceful demonstration, as is the current case. In the meantime, we are in regular contact with the NGO “PRAKSIS” that provides doctors and psychologists to look after the hunger-strikers, because what is most important is the life of those people”.


  1. Post Disagreement
    August 26, 2010    

    and why exactly are they seeking asylum?
    This also begs the questions supposing that there are a millions of asylum seekers and they could all prove they are legitimate what happens then? Small Bankrupt Greece has to welcome them and support them..

    Even asylum seekers rights to asylum have to be limited by the carrying capacity of the country they seek entry to.

  2. gurmit
    August 26, 2010    

    Hi Post Disagreement,

    It is a tricky situation isn’t it? On the one hand there are so many genuine refugees and on the other countries have to have a limit. Too bad the U.S. can’t be held responsible for subsidizing countries for refugees caused by its upheavals to places like Iraq.

    Since there are a lot of people who come into Greece anyway and are trapped there for years whether Greeks like it or not, maybe something could be done that would benefit both the people and Greece. I know this is perhaps a corny idea, but you know soapnuts, a nut that can be used in place of laundry detergent? They cost so much and perhaps they could be grown in Greece too because it is hot there. Maybe on some of those Greek islands with hardly any people you could plant soapnuts (or something else lucrative and yet good for the world) and get people who come into Greece to work the farms in exchange for room and board (right now some of them go hungry or beg and live without proper shelter). Anyway I get strange ideas when I don’t sleep like tonight (reading some interesting stuff on Christianity).

  3. gurmit
    August 26, 2010    

    Hi Verve,

    Some moons ago, you and I had a conversation in which you said religions have astrological cores. Well, I came across a video on the internet that speaks of astrology within Christianity. What you said about the twelve disciples and the zodiac signs (or was it months?) are mentioned and some other interesting stuff including the pope’s hat being a fish symbol. If you already watched it or know of all the symbolism, my apologies. The astrology stuff starts at about 48 minutes and 48 seconds into the video (before that is stuff people of many religions could find offensive by some man who doesn’t like religions, not any I think).

    The link:

  4. The Verve
    September 14, 2010    

    Hey Gurmit,

    Long time & thanx for the link. If people are offended by facts that are starring straight at them, it is just too bad.
    All religions are man-made and most of them have their roots in star-worship, many credible historians can back this up. This doesn’t necessarily dispute the existence of God, just that no religion can in anyway claim monopoly on God or that it is the result of the unwavering, divine word of God. At the very least, no organised religion to date has shown irrefutable proof of it being the true custodian of the Logos.

    It would be great if there were programs at hand to keep immigrants gainfully employed. Keep them out of the streets, away from criminal activity and help them live dignified lives. Greece needs to undergo a lot of painful change right now, taking in more illegal migrants that it obviously can’t handle is just going to make matters worse. Either other far better off EU countries are going to have to help out or these folks are going to have a terrible time getting by. You can build all the mosques in the world, you can naturalise immigrants by the truckload but if your economy is in the tank their lives won’t get any better.

    I heard that big multinationals like Coca-Cola are leaving Greece, if that isn’t a indicator of the sorry state of the economy I don’t know what is. Many small & mid-sized local businesses are closing down en masse, unemployment is rising at an incredible rate and university students that graduate want to get the hell out of Greece. Inevitably a country that loses it’s young and educated citizens will have a further negative trickle down effect on the future of that economy. In other words, a brain drain. Trying to replace that brain drain with destitute, uneducated illegal immigrants will not in anyway enhance that economy or bring forth much needed innovation. Granted, in Greece’s case there was never a proper environment to harness the talent the country produces in anycase, this has further compounded the problem and the results are now here to see.