Iraqi Asylum Seeker Refusing To Return To Shelter - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iraqi Asylum Seeker Refusing To Return To Shelter

Published July 9, 2016

Photos by
Paul Fontaine

Likening the facility to a “prison”, Raisan tells The Grapevine he will sit in front of parliament until he is physically moved.

Raisan, now on the 11th day of his hunger strike, is currently sitting in front of parliament, where he intends to remain unless the police move him from the location. He emphasised that if he is arrested, he will offer no resistance.

As reported, Raisan was recently 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 tells The Grapevine we would rather stay seated where he is than go back to this facility. He is unhappy that he cannot receive visitors, and said furthermore that his request to go to a hospital has not been fulfilled. Rather, an ambulance that visited took his blood pressure, and then left without further medical attention.

When asked what message he would like to convey to the Icelandic people, his statement was succinct: “I want to live here. I do not want to go back to Iraq. I want to make a life for myself here.”

Raisan’s journey to Iceland has been fraught with peril. He 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.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Show Me More!