Hunger Striking Refugee in Hospital; Justice Minister "Will Not Be Pressured" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Hunger Striking Refugee in Hospital; Justice Minister “Will Not Be Pressured”

Published May 13, 2009

Algerian asylum seeker Mansri Hichem, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 21 days now, was taken to hospital last night. The
Minister of Justice has meanwhile told reporters that the ministry
“will not be pressured by hunger strikes or other forms of protest”.
Hichem still refuses to accept any food, and has also refused to accept intraveinous nourishment, although he has agreed to saline injections. Paramedic Linda Magnúsdóttir told Morgunblaðið, “The Office of Immigration, the Red Cross and the police are obviously working together to try and threaten him, to tell him that if he doesn’t stop talking to the media and doesn’t end his hunger strike, he will be sent out of the country.”
Interestingly, a representative from the Red Cross did meet with Michem, offering him a lettr promising either work or education if he ends his hunger strike. There was no mention of a residence permit in the letter, however – such a permit is not the Red Cross’ decision to make, but the Ministry of Justice’s, where his lawyers have sent his appeal for asylum.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir told reporters  that the ministry “will not be pressured by hunger strikes or other forms of protest”. She added that for the ministry to bend to the pressure would upset the balance of equal treatment that all applicants for asylum as supposed to receive, and that he has to understand that the system doesn’t work this way. Hichem’s case is, she continued, a top priority at the ministry and she sincerely hopes he ends his hunger strike.

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