rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki) | 24.04.2011 23:22 | London
this afternoon i visited two hunger strike sites in central london. hunger strike must surely be the last act of desperation when all else has failed and when civilised society has abandoned its duty of care. here are their images and, very briefly, their stories. they are begging for our help and support and are deadly serious.
click on image for larger version. all images are 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
opposite the entrance to the offices of amnesty international, on a small triangle of pavement behind a bus-stop and infront of a posh cafe, i found the miserable shelter that is the current home to three iranian refugees who are on their 20th day of hunger strike. they are members of 'green wave voice' which is an iranian protest organisation which is targetted by the iranian authorities who they campaign against. three others are camped outside the home office immigration centre in croydon.
in an action inspired by similar protests in greece last year, some of the men have sewn their lips together.
there is substantial credible evidence that if sent back to iran, they will undoubtedly face persecution, imprisonment, and quite possibly execution, and yet the british government is refusing to recognise them as legitimate asylum seekers. they fled iran in order to escape persecution, and they came here to seek asylum and start a new life. they intend to stay on strike until the government grants them leave to remain.
the amnesty international mission statement says:
"Amnesty's mission is to undertake research and action focused on
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental
integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from
discrimination--in the context of our work to promote all human rights, as
articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
and yet, the iranians told me this afternoon that no-one from amnesty has spoken to them despite their protest in direct sight of the headquarters. amnesty have acted before on behalf of an iranian trade unionist, and it is unclear why they appear unwilling to engage with these asylum seekers.
the hunger strikers are asking for support from the public to put pressure on the government to reconsider their case, and on amnesty international to support their struggle.
if you want to help, write to amnesty and ask them to work on this case, and also sign the online petition to the government here
there is also a short youtube video made by supporters here
next i visited solomon kumar guntupalli in parliament square. he is currently on day 42 of his hunger strike against plans to deport him to india where he no longer has family connections or friends, and where because of a uk criminal record he would likely face further persecution and destitution.
he claims to be completely innocent of the crime of possession of drugs with intent to supply, for which he has spent six terrible years in british prisons. he has been failed by the justice system, and points to collusion, corruption and cover-up, at every level of the judicial system and government, to stop him from proving his innocence.
he believes there is cctv footage and other evidence that would exonerate him, and he calls for the release of files and evidence to prove his case. he believes he is being deported to stop his campaign for justice, and as a last resort he has turned to the hunger strike in front of parliament. he has signed an 'advance directive' refusing medical aid or intervention as his health deteriorates, and he has sent copies of this to leading ministers, police, and other authorities.
he doesn't have a website or supporters, so if you want to help, you can visit him at parliament square. he currently survives on £35 per week from the home office, but travel, photocopying, stationery, and legal admin fees soon use this up even though he is not eating, so donations might be some help.
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/8839