Together they are protesting against their deprivation of liberty with an emphasis that they are not criminals but refugees. They also call the world’s attention to the inhumane conditions in the Békéscsaba prison for asylum-seekers which makes their detention unlawful.
The Migráns Szolidaritás Csoport (Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary) demands from the both OIN (Office of Immigration and Nationality) and the Hungarian Police that they respect the hunger strikers’ right to protest and their chosen method should be respected. And, Migrant Solidarity Group also demands that these and all other asylum-seekers in Hungary be released – seeking asylum is not a crime. After a hunger strike in the prison for asylum-seekers in Nyírbátor during August, 2013, today on 10, October 2013, five asylum-seekers from Mali have started a hunger strike.
According to the Malian asylum-seekers, the director promised them that if they stop their hunger strike, he will accelerate their asylum procedure. The director asked the guards to put food in front of them, to tempt to break their hunger strike. The hunger strikers also had a blood test this morning.
Because the asylum-seekers did not trust the director’s empty promises, they decided to continue their hunger strike, and on 14 October, 2013 between 50 and 60 more asylum-seekers also joined them. There were more people who wanted to express their opinion about their detention in this way, but the director gave a long speech to tell them that it is a shame for them and for Hungary to protest against their detention.
These people did not commit any crime to be detained. They are not criminals. They know that a large number of asylum-seekers are not in prisons, but in open camps for asylum-seekers with a more welcoming atmosphere than the director’s and the guards’ attitude in Békéscsaba. The hunger strikers also said that the conditions of the prison are inhumane: the showers and toilets are dirty, and the food is not adequate.
Right now Migráns Szolidaritás Csoport is not able to obtain anymore news from the group of the 5 first hunger strikers from Mali, because the police have closed the first-aid room. Nobody knows what is happening to them inside.
The hunger strikers are asking for freedom, because they cannot stand the deprivation of their liberty anymore.
As we mentioned before, we again emphasize that the Migrant Solidarity Group does not encourage anyone to go on a hunger strike, or to continue one. Nevertheless, we will not attempt to convince anyone to stop using this tactic, if they have so chosen. We consider that a hunger strike is a very personal decision made by the individuals who are directly affected by the conditions of detention, and as long as we are not in a similar situation, we cannot judge their decision. We would only ask the hunger strikers to stop their action if it is the case that someone’s life is endangered – but even then we would respect the hunger strikers’ decision if they wanted to continue protesting even when their lives are threatened.
For these reasons we ask OIN in the future to pay special attention to those on hunger strike. The hunger strikers’ decision should be respected, and during their treatment, the World Medical Association’s Malta Declaration on Hunger Strikes should be adhered to.
The Migrant Solidarity Group, in the interest of (but not in the name of) all the asylum seekers in Hungary, demands the following:
• OIN should not detain any asylum seekers, as these persons have not committed any crime that could be punishable by detention.
• OIN should provide all asylum seekers the right to a fair procedure when the decision about their detention is made, during which not only the representatives of OIN are listened to but also the people they want to punish with the most severe restrictions of personal liberty.
• OIN needs to provide information about the procedure and their situation in a language understandable to the asylum seekers. The information should include the reasons why asylum seekers are detained as well as prospects of what will happen with them after their release.
• OIN needs to ensure that there are enough chances for legal aid inside the prison, enough lawyers with adequate competence, working enough hours.
• OIN needs to ensure that the food given to asylum seekers is edible as well as respect the different dietary needs according to age or religion.
• OIN has to provide all asylum seekers with proper medical care, including the possibility of independent doctors to visit the detention centres during times of a hunger strike.
• OIN needs to refrain from any type of punishment of the asylum seekers who took part in the hunger strike — including prohibiting their access to the Internet and the telephone.
We ask the OIN to respond to these demands as soon as possible.