Complaint by the International Federation of Iranian Refugees lodged with the European Court of Human Rights against the Greek government for its violation of refugees’ rights
I submit this complaint on behalf of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) against the Greek government for its violation of the refugees’ rights in the country.
A sizeable number of Iranian refugee seekers, i.e., escapees from fear of imprisonment, torture and execution, have started a sit-in in front of the UN office in Athens which still continues after 40 days. In a prior protest action a different number of them had initiated a sit-in, which led, in consequence of the irresponsible response of the Greek’s government, to their going on hunger strike and sewing their lips in protest.
Now, after forty-odd days of their second sit-in, the Greek government still refuses to accept any of the refugee’s demands. Indeed, it has basically refused to respond to their demands in any way, except by, once in a while, ordering its police force to raid their sit-in site, beat them and trash their belongings. As a result the protesting refugees began a hunger strike on Thursday, October 14, and eight of them sewed their lips. According to the latest news as of October 21 eleven individuals, out of the total of twenty-five striking refugees, have sewn their lips.
The ghastly scenes of the refugees sewing their lips, reported on the internet and in the media, make one’s hair stand on end. These scenes are transpiring in Greece, a member country of the European Union. This country has, evidently, no defined standards as far as reviewing the refugee applicants’ cases and/or meeting even their most basic, dire needs. Still worse, it has, unfortunately, become renowned for its encroachments on their human rights as refugees and mistreating them.
These refugees have come to Greece seeking protection from a country by the name of Iran – a country suffering under a criminal Islamist regime which has, for the past 31 years, ruled by the horrific rules belonging to a barbaric era. Relying on these ‘holy’ rules it has committed a whole catalogue of medieval crimes against the dissenters, the accused individuals, the youth, the women, the workers, the intellectuals, in short, against the whole society – a catalogue extending from flogging to imprisonment, amputation of the limbs, torture, rape, execution, lynching, assassination and stoning. Thanks to the on-going Iranian people’s movement for freedom, as well as the ridiculous lies of the heads of the Islamic Republic about their oppression of the people in Iran, its true murderous nature has become common knowledge around the world. The Iranian refugees in Turkey, Greece and other countries have escaped such conditions, that is, the 31-year long war of the regime against the nation. They should, therefore, be accepted as refugees with open arms and the least ‘investigations’, and their safety and security be guaranteed in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention, ‘the Legislation that Underpins our Work’ (UNHCR, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49da0e466.html).
To reiterate, the nature of the Iranian regime is clear to the people around the world. What remains to be explained is the irresponsive, and therefore irresponsible, policy adopted by the Greek government vis-à-vis their plight. The silence of the Greek government has, in practice, amounted to ignoring the very human rights the EU is committed to. Are the refugees not human to deserve the protection of the Charter of Human Rights? The Greek government ignores the refugees, their needs and their demands as if it is not part of the EU and does not have to abide by its obligations thereof. The Greek government has simply closed its eyes to the reality of what transpires in Iran. That is the chief reason why it refuses to acknowledge their needs and pay them what they are legally entitled to. Indeed, it essentially refuses to consider them human.
It is reported that refugees, the sick and the healthy, the smoker and non-smoker, are detained in overcrowded salons at decaying old detention centers. These locales have nothing in common with modern facilities, especially in Europe, and are totally unhygienic, unwholesome environments. The intolerable conditions of detention centers have brought the refugees to the verge of insanity. Those who have been released from them have reported that they had been not only languishing in unhealthy, squalid and deadly dull conditions but also from time to time severely assaulted by the police.
It must be emphasized that during its 22 years of its existence the IFIR has relentlessly defended the refugees from a progressive perspective as humans sans phrase, independent of their faith, political affiliation, race, ethnicity and gender. By the same token it has never encouraged such forms of protest as hunger strike or lip-sewing. However, it is the Greek government and the inhuman atmosphere it has created for the refugees that has forced those innocent human beings into self-harm. This Greek government’s treatment of the refugee seekers violates all universal charters and conventions established to protect humans and, specifically, the refugees. It should therefore be condemned as such and stopped immediately. Why should, especially in a European country, the escapees from hells like Iran and Afghanistan be driven to sewing their lips in a battle to defend just their natural right to life?! The refugees in Greece are rotting away in constant fear of not having any stay permit, job, housing, health services, and so on. There is no responsible office or authority to deal with their plight or protest and give them what is rightfully theirs. In short, they have been pushed into the abyss of despair, which spawns only depression, chronic anxiety, and a whole host of other socio-psychological symptoms.
In view of the above the IFIR would like to lodge this complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against the Greek government for its gross violation of both the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.
October 23, 2010
CC Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch