From Iceland — Yet Another Asylum Seeker Attempts Self-Immolation

Yet Another Asylum Seeker Attempts Self-Immolation

Published March 22, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

An asylum seeker who threatened to set himself on fire is now in police custody, but incidents such as this have been increasing.

RÚV reports that the asylum seeker in question was recently evicted from a guesthouse for reasons undisclosed. Yesterday afternoon, police say he doused himself in gasoline and threatened to set himself on fire. He reportedly also splashed gasoline onto the front door of the guesthouse.

Police were called to the scene, who arrested the man without incident. He is now reportedly in police custody.

The details of this particular case are not known at this time, but this is not the first time an asylum seeker has threatened self-immolation – which is more often than not in protest to the long waiting periods asylum seekers must often endure.

Just last August, an asylum seeker, originally from Iran, arrived at the offices of the Icelandic Red Cross today and poured an undisclosed flammable liquid on himself, threatening to set himself on fire. The man first applied for asylum last March, and though he has not received an answer despite a regulation requiring one within 90 days, the Directorate of Immigration says this delay is due to the “poor mental state” of the asylum seeker and “the difficulties related to that”.

While the Directorate also pointed out that the man had been granted asylum “in another European state”, refugee rights activist group Ekki Fleiri Brottvísanir (“No More Deportations”) points out that the country in question is Italy, where refugee detention centres are already overcrowded and where authorities have been criticised for their asylum seeker policies.

In May 2011, another asylum seeker also threatened to set himself on fire at the Red Cross offices, also citing the length of time he had been made to wait for processing.

The Directorate said that while all available help will be given to asylum seekers having psychological difficulties, attempting to self-harm “will not influence the processing or final decision of his case”.

Ekki Fleiri Brottvísanir criticised this response, saying, “Certainly it is good to encourage people to not set themselves on fire. But when it happens regularly, there is something wrong with the acceptance and treatment these people receive. We encourage the Directorate to stop making poor excuses and to stop deporting asylum seekers.”


Borderline: Empathy & Insanity In The Asylum Process

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!