An asylum seeker reached his emotional limit today in his wait for approval to stay in Iceland, pouring gasoline on himself and threatening suicide. A refugee rights activist has called upon the Minister of the Interior to step in.
The asylum seeker in question, Medhi Kavyanpor – originally from Iran – has waited about seven years to have his case reviewed by authorities and is still waiting, living in an unbearable limbo, as the Grapevine investigated. Early this morning, Kavyanpor went into the offices of the Red Cross, poured gasoline over himself, and threatened to set himself on fire if his case was not settled.
Author Haukur Már Helgason, Vísir reports, has called upon Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson to fight against “the systemic xenophobia of the Icelandic government,” pointing out that very few people have ever been granted political asylum in Iceland.
As the Grapevine pointed out in the previous linked article, according to the latest statistics from the Red Cross, most asylum seekers in Iceland come from Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, between 2006 and 2009, 57.1% of asylum seekers who were granted refugee status were self-identified Christians—only 20% were Muslim.
Ögmundur, for his part, told Vísir that he considers is “very sad how this person has been treated”. He added that Kavyanpor’s case is currently being reviewed by the Directorate of Immigration, and that his reaction to his seven-year wait was “likely based on a misunderstanding.”