Expatica news

Iranian asylum seeker ends hunger strike

23 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Iranian asylum seeker who sewed his mouth and eyes shut in a desperate attempt to stay in the Netherlands has cut his mouth open and has ended his hunger strike after 44 days.

Mehdy Kavousi, of Zaandijk, was a vivid element of a protest in The Hague last month as 2,500 people demonstrated against the government’s plan to deport 26,000 refugees and grant a residence permit to just 2,300 long-term asylum seekers.

Several days after the 9 February protest, Kavousi cut open the stitches holding his eyes shut and started drinking again. Despite the family’s subsequent refusal to talk to the media, it was assumed that the man’s mouth was still sewed shut.

A spokesman for the Zaanstad Council said on 12 February he believed that Kavousi’s mouth was still sewed shut and claimed that a city Alderman who visited Kavousi had also confirmed this.

And a council spokeswoman confirmed to Expatica on Tuesday that after agreeing on a course of action allowing him to stay in the country, Kavousi had only now cut his mouth open in order to start eating again.

The Iranian had fled to the Netherlands after being arrested and tortured for protesting against the Iranian regime in February 2000. His request for asylum was rejected in 2002 and Kavousi was faced with the prospect of having to return to Iran.

He later lodged an application to stay in the country based on his marriage to a Dutch woman, but in order to come into consideration for a residence permit he was required to first obtain a temporary entry visa (MVV) in Iran.

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) rejected on Monday Kavousi’s request to make an exception to the rule so that he would not be forced to return to Iran to obtain an MVV.

An MVV visa must always be obtained in a migrant’s home country before arriving in the Netherlands, but Kavousi fears a return to his home country.

Zaandstad Council said on Tuesday it was now consulting with the IND to arrange a safe return for Kavousi to Iran to obtain the necessary documents.

It said the Iranian could be accompanied on his return to the Middle Eastern country and that meticulous preparations in the Netherlands could be carried out to ensure the documents would be quickly and safely obtained.

Zaanstad Alderman Harm Jan Egberts is prepared to fly with Kavousi to Iran, a council statement said.

Zaanstad also said Kavousi was pleased with the proposed arrangements and had thus agreed to end his hunger strike.

A municipal spokeswoman told Expatica the man had thus agreed to cut open his mouth in order to start eating again. But she also said Kavousi was extremely weakened from the 44-day hunger strike and had lost a lot of weight.

The spokeswoman said Kavousi had drunk a lot of fluid in the past six weeks, but must slowly build up his eating and is under the supervision of a doctor. Kavousi will return to Iran when his health has sufficiently improved. 

A spokesman for the Kavousi family had earlier said on Monday that the family was seeking advice about the IND ruling and that it was not prepared to comment further.

The man’s lawyer declined to respond to phone calls placed by Expatica on Tuesday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news