From Iceland — Iraqi Asylum Seeker Now In 8th Day Of Hunger Strike

Iraqi Asylum Seeker Now In 8th Day Of Hunger Strike

Published July 5, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

An Iraqi man who fled his country because he did not want to kill is now in the eighth day of his hunger strike, protesting his deportation and others.

Raisan Al-shihmani, an asylum seeker who fled Iraq in September 2015 and has been in Iceland for seven months now, told The Grapevine last week he received notice that he will be deported to Norway on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation. His friends are amongst the Iraqi asylum seekers already deported to Norway. In protest to his impending deportation – and the deportations of all asylum seekers – he is now on the eighth day of his hunger strike.

Grapevine spoke with Raisan today, with the help of an interpreter, to learn more about why he left Iraq, and what awaits him if he is sent back home.

Raisan used to be an officer in the Iraqi military, working specifically in military intelligence. Towards the end of his tenure, he told us, the Iraqi military was working closely with other militant groups in their fight against the Islamic State. However, Raisan witnessed that these militant groups – which included the Badr Organization, Hezbullah Iraq, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which operated under the auspices of the notorious Qais Khazali – were also engaging in the killing of civilians in their fight against the Islamic State.

Not wanting to take part in the killing of civilians, Raisan fled, heading across Europe where his journey would eventually take him to Iceland.

Raisan says immigration officials showed no interest in knowing what circumstances compelled him to leave Iraq; they were only interested in knowing why he left Norway. Norway, however, regularly deports Iraqi asylum seekers back to this country, especially if they hail from southern Iraq. Raisan has exhausted his appeals to immigration authorities and the local courts, and can now only appeal to the Supreme Court, to the considerable cost of at least half a million ISK.

When asked what awaits Raisan if he is deported to Norway, and subsequently to Iraq, his reply was succinct: “Death.”


As our interview concluded, two officials from the City of Reykjavík arrived to take Raisan to the health clinic for a check-up. The Grapevine was at that time informed that neither Raisan, nor anyone else living in the house, were allowed to receive visitors. This policy is a reflection of the Directorate of Immigration’s larger policy of forbidding journalists and volunteers from visiting asylum seekers where they live.

The Grapevine was told by the city workers who arrived that this policy was in place for the protection of the residents, as unexpected guests can disturb those living there – even if one of these residents had invited someone over, as was our case.

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