From Iceland — Refugee From Gaza Violently Arrested Trying To Admit Himself To Psychiatric Care

Refugee From Gaza Violently Arrested Trying To Admit Himself To Psychiatric Care

Published May 19, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Mohammed Alsweirki

Mohammed Alsweirki, a 26-year-old man originally from Gaza, and his lawyer have confirmed that when Mohammed attempted to admit himself to psychiatric care last Thursday, he was denied entry and then violently arrested by six police officers, Mannlíf reports.

Mohammed has had much to endure in his 26 years so far, from living in Gaza and having to leave due to threats from Hamas for having a pre-marital relationship, to experiencing violent abuse while in custody in Greek prisons and refugee camps. He grapples with depression, anxiety and PTSD, and the recent Israeli Defense Force attacks on Gaza—where his family still lives—have not helped matters.

Mohammed arrived at the psychiatric ward of Landspítali during so-called “open hours”, when a person in particular psychological distress may come and seek help. He was categorically refused admission, for reasons unclear, and he in turn calmly refused to leave until he was allowed admission. In response, the doctor on duty opted to call the police.

Six officers quickly arrived on the scene. Mohammed says they refused to listen to him, threw him to the ground, with one officer putting his knee on his back and pressing on his neck so hard that he could not breathe. He also received a head injury. He was reportedly handcuffed, dragged out of the premises and put in a police van, where four officers held him down and at least one sat on him.

The police called Landspítali in Fossvogur, where Mohammed was admitted by ambulance. A specialist doctor on the scene confirmed that he required psychiatric care and admission to the appropriate ward. Mohammed found it strange that all of the sudden it was possible for him to get the care he initially sought before his arrest.

Albert Björn Lúðvígsson, Mohammed’s lawyer, confirmed that he received documentation from Landspítali that verified how the incident occurred. In those documents, it is stated that Mohammed was calm and not aggressive throughout the ordeal.

While Mohammed was initially denied asylum in Iceland, on the grounds that he was granted protection in Greece, he is appealing the matter. As Albert told the Grapevine, “when they receive protection, they lose these few services they had. All the documents and reports we have, and have submitted to the Icelandic authorities, show that most recognised refugees with protection in Greece live on the streets. We call it ‘protection without protection’. That is something that I think is important is that Mr. Alsweirki faces a lot of obstacles in Greece, it is very unlikely that he will be able to seek medical assistance, and unfortunately it’s most likely that he’ll be homeless if he’s deported.”

The atrocities and hardships in Greek refugee camps are well-documented. The fact that those granted protection are cut off from services, and more often than not end up homeless and subjected to violence is also a matter of public record.

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