Asylum seeker cuts eyes open, starts drinking
12 February 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Iranian man who sewed his eyes and mouth closed in a shocking protest against the Dutch government's treatment of asylum seekers has cut the stitches on his eye lids open and has started drinking again.
12 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Iranian man who sewed his eyes and mouth closed in a shocking protest against the Dutch government's treatment of asylum seekers has cut the stitches on his eye lids open and has started drinking again.
Mehdy Kavousi was a vivid element of a protest in The Hague on Monday as 2,500 people demonstrated against the government's amnesty and deportation plan. His Dutch wife said his self-inflicted wounds were a desperate act.
To clear a backlog in asylum requests lodged with the immigration service IND, the government gave 2,300 asylum seekers a
residence permit in a one-off amnesty, but also announced plans to deport 26,000 others.
The plans met with stiff opposition from the community, churches and opposition MPs, but ultimately won approval when government coalition parties the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 backed Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk on Monday.
Mehdy has continued his silent protest since then, but the rejected asylum seeker who is listed to be deported cut the stitches holding his eyes closed on Thursday. He has also started drinking again to regain strength for a hearing with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) which has been brought forward.
Kavousi is applying to stay in the Netherlands based on his marriage to his wife, Marjon Kavousi, who previously found her husband unconscious on the ground next to his bed on Wednesday morning with a handwritten note on his stomach.
The note said: "I won't leave you alone" and she had briefly thought that it was all over. Would he end the protest, or did he mean that he intended to die? But after Mehdy came to with the help of a doctor, it suddenly became clear: He intended to continue his protest, to the death if necessary, she told Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad.
Kavousi, of Zaandijk, told the newspaper that her partner Mehdy had waited four years for an answer to his request for asylum, leading him to such a desperate protest.
"The uncertainty, the despair, the desperation, the prospect of nothing and especially the fear of return to Iran are so great that he would rather die here than in Iran," she said.
Kavousi explained that Mehdy was detained after participating in a protest against the Iranian regime on 18 February 2000. After his arrest, he was admitted to hospital in an unconscious state and was later interrogated and tortured. He eventually fled to the Netherlands.
According to Kavousi, for the past 18 months Mehdy had considered sewing his eyes and mouth closed. Sewing his mouth represented that everything had been said, while sewing the eyes meant that he suffered and could no longer bear seeing what was happening to other asylum seekers.
She admitted that such an act was obviously painful, but could not be compared with the man's mental pain. Mehdy has not asked for painkillers and he no longer has pain because the physical pain diverts attention from the mental pain, she'd said.
Mehdy's request for asylum was rejected in 2002, but he is waiting for an assessment of his request to stay based on family unification purposes. A hearing was to be held on 26 February, but has since been pushed forward to Monday in response to the protest.
Kavousi said Mehdy could not have waited until 26 February, claiming that the ruling would be made days or weeks after the hearing and that an appeal could also be lodged. She said her husband needed rest and that he could only get it in two ways: A residence permit or death.
But the IND previously indicated that Mehdy would not be issued with a permit. The immigration service also labelled his action as "senseless" and "a form of blackmail that you cannot yield to". Two IND officials visited Mehdy on Wednesday and agreed to remain in contact with the couple.
Asked whether she agreed with his actions, Kavousi said she was increasingly supportive of Mehdy. "I see his despair, I know his nightmares about Iran, I see that he sometimes bursts into tears, I see him becoming increasingly depressed".
"Who am I to say than he must continue to live with this pain and desperation? You release an animal from its suffering. Why not then someone with mental pain?
"His bodily functions are still working according to the doctor. He is reacting less and the pain is increasing. He could quickly slip into a coma."
But asked what will happen if he dies and what he will have achieved, Kavousi said Mehdy will finally be at rest and that the nation's politicians will hopefully have been awoken and have a better eye for the suffering of other refugees.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news