An Iraqi asylum seeker who has previously gone on hunger strike to protest deportations received some promising news over the weekend: the Directorate of Immigration has agreed to examine his case.
The Grapevine received word from Raisan Al-Shihmani that the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) has decided to put his impending deportation on hold and examine his case; i.e., they will examine his backstory and his reasons for seeking asylum in Iceland, amongst other things.
The decision is a promising sign, in that UTL had initially evoked the Dublin Regulation – an international treaty which gives signatory countries the option (although not the obligation) of deporting asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure. As Raisan previously applied for asylum in Norway, UTL at first opted to deport him without examining his case. He fought the decision, and went on hunger strike for about 3 weeks; not just in protest to his own deportation, but to deportations in general.
Raisan fled Iraq in September 2015 and has been living in Iceland for about eight months now. His friends are amongst the Iraqi asylum seekers already deported to Norway. Norway regularly deports Iraqis if the hail from southern Iraq, as this is considered a “safe area” by Norwegian authorities, so Raisan came to Iceland in the hopes of starting a new life.
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 will be meeting with a lawyer on Wednesday to decide what their next move will be. He is currently staying at the Grensásvegur shelter for asylum seekers.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!