Now on the 10th day of his hunger strike, Iraqi asylum seeker Raisan Al-shihmani has been moved to a shelter with 24-hour security.
At the conclusion of The Grapevine’s interview with Raisan last Tuesday, he was paid a visit by two Reykjavík city workers. These municipal employees told us that neither Raisan, nor anyone else living in the house, were allowed to receive visitors. We were told 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.
The Grapevine has now received word that Raisan, after receiving a medical check-up at a local hospital, has been moved to Grensásvegur 12, an asylum seeker residence that is run by the Directorate of Immigration (UTL). This facility has 24-hour security in place, in part to enforce the Directorate of Immigration’s larger policy of forbidding journalists and volunteers from visiting asylum seekers where they live.
Raisan has since requested that he be moved to a hospital for continuous care, as he told The Grapvine that medical professionals examining him told him he was in poor physical shape. We have not received word if this request has been granted or not.
As reported, 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 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 such, he is holding a hunger strike, not just in protest to his own impending deportation, but in protest to deportations in general.