Asylum Seekers on Hungerstrike
New Delhi: A group of nine Chin asylum seekers are staging a hunger strike at the gate of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi to demand a reopening of their cases, which have been closed due to ‘lack of adequate grounds’ for further consideration for refugee status. The strikers include a family with children as young as 6 and 3 years old, reports Salai Tluang Vel Lian, our correspondent from New Delhi.
Visibly frail and exhausted from nine days of fasting, the protesters vow to continue their fast as long as the UN refugee agency refuses to revisit their cases.
“They appear physically very weak but otherwise they are keeping their hopes up. What is of great concern is their health and physical well-being if it continues on for too long,” Lian explains. Many sympathizers are alarmed at the possibility that UNHCR might resort to calling in the local police to intervene, one which could lead to the prosecution and incarceration of the protesters.
So far the UNHCR Office has not communicated with the protesters. A similar protest in 2003 by refugees ended with a violent police response at the invitation of UN staff. Dozens of protesters sustained serious injuries and scores incarcerated.
25 January, 2006