Dewael firm against hunger strikers
13 November 2003 , BRUSSELS – Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has refused to negotiate with a group of Iranian asylum seekers until they first put an end to their hunger strike, which has now lasted 23 days.
13 November 2003
BRUSSELS – Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has refused to negotiate with a group of Iranian asylum seekers until they first put an end to their hunger strike, which has now lasted 23 days.
Daroush Siavachkhah, a 30-year-old Iranian electrician, sewed his lips together Wednesday as he entered his fourth week of starving at the University of Brussels (ULB) campus.
“That hurt me less than what I suffered, first in Iran for years and then in Belgium where, for three years and three months I’ve been waiting for someone to listen to me,” Siavachkhah communicated to Belgian daily Le Soir.
Siavachkhah, who says he is ready to die rather than return to his native Iran, is one of 200 asylum seekers who have been protesting at the ULB in the hope of persuading Dewael to allow them to stay in Belgium.
But the interior minister has flatly refused to negotiate while the hunger strike continues, despite the rapidly deteriorating health of the protesters.
“If he thinks this is blackmail then that’s his problem. What we want is to make our voices heard and a hunger strike is the ultimate way we have found to do this,” one hunger striker told reporters.
Francophone Christian Democrat leader Joelle Milquet, has urged Dewael to open a dialogue with the asylum seekers through federal mediator Pierre-Yves Monette.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Belgian news