Why does somebody stop eating for solidarity, what do they aim to achieve? How does it feel to be on a hunger strike for a day? Migszol will publish personal blog posts of those who join the solidarity hunger strike to present some of the reasons and feelings that we as individuals have for Rakan's case. Read from below what some of us were thinking during the first week of the action.
Wednesday, June 25th
"Today is my turn. Fortunately, yesterday Rakan stopped his hunger strike after 12 days but out group is continuing with the symbolic hunger strike. There was a response from the Immigration Office to the questions of some journalists but all they did was quoting from some legislation.
I’m angry and upset.
I feel ashamed for my government, for their lack of humanity, for their treatment of refugees.
I am sorry, Rakan.
Rakan Husien I hope you are feeling better and that soon you will manage to reunite with your children against all the odds."
Tuesday, June 24th
As a MigSzol activist I am always aware of the difficulty that refugees in Hungary have - being separated from their home and family is very difficult. Rakan's story is another level of sadness because of the terrible death of his wife and mother.
Being in Hungary it often feels we are disconnected with the world and cannot make a positive change. In the case of Rakan, it is a simple task to reunite his family - well, it should be a simple task!
Hungary's Ministry of Foreign Affairs simply has to accept the papers of Rakan's children. Currently they are stuck in Turkey after two horrific journeys attempting to enter Jordan and then Lebanon - which both turned them away because they are Palestinians and therefore do not have 'real' passports.
And today, while they are currently 'safe' in Turkey, they have been rejected again by the State of Hungary.
This is a truly shameful situation for Hungary. Of course, Hungarians themselves know how petty and picky state bureaucrats can be in their own lives. But in this case, a pointless and cruel decision has been made that has separated a father from his children after his wife and mother was killed.
Please Prime Minister Orbán and President Áder, I think Hungary can be better than this.
Monday, June 23rd
''Today it was my day, my day to feel what Rakan has felt every day since June 12th. I do not really have words to describe how my day was, as usually my days are very busy, I am active and even I forget to eat or I do not have the time to eat, but today it was different. And is it not just about feeling hungry, is about feeling sad, tired and especially helpless and incapable of doing anything, but to hunger strike silently. My day was and still is dark, silent, I am feeling alone and weak, I am feeling that nobody understands me and cannot do much to change how I feel. And maybe I am wrong, maybe some understand, but one cannot understand a feeling until he/she lives through it and experiences it.
During all day Rakan and his family was on my mind...
Maybe this does not mean too much and it cannot have a big impact on the issue but it is an act of solidarity that we do in order to make him stronger and to fight for him and his family. We cannot bring them here but we can fight together with him, to make people aware of this case and to not stop until we reach our goal.
I had days that I was feeling weak but I would eat something, whereas today it was very hard. I am staring at the watch to hope that the time will pass faster. I try to do anything just to make the time pass so I can eat again… But if it would be so easy to make the time pass and to know that tomorrow is the day that his children will be here and not the day that I could actually eat, it would've been so much better. Can you imagine what does Rakan feel every day?
It will take time but I am ready to fight with him and we all are trying to be with him until we don't see his family reunified.
My 24 hours of not eating will be soon over, but let's take a second and think about his path of his hunger strike? When it will stop? How much does one have to fight just to use his right of having a reunified family?''
"When we told Rakan that we are going to stop eating for 24 hours, he was happy. But he still didn't start to eat. Today I feel every hour how hungry I am but then tomorrow comes to my mind, when I can start eating, because I only decided to stop eating for 24 hours.
Rakan has not eaten for 12 days now. There is no tomorrow for him which makes him sleep with an empty stomach but a hopeful mind of next day's fulfillment.
I would like Rakan to be fulfilled with the joy of hugging his children now."
"I started a solidarity hunger strike because I think one of the most important aspects of humanity is sharing. Sharing our lives with others, sharing our thoughts and feelings, our struggles. When we are able to share, everything becomes easier to bear. I know I will never be able to feel Rakan's feelings: how disappointed, heart-broken he is. I have not shared his past. What I can do now, however, is try to understand him, and share the physical part of his struggle. Maybe this will bring me closer to his world. On the day of my strike, I spent some hours with Rakan. It made the hunger strike easier and I had a chance to insight into his world, if only a little bit. What did I feel during the day? Waiting is the word which is describes the best what I felt. Not waiting as in the meaning of passing time, waiting for tomorrow when I can start eating again. Rather, it was the kind of waiting of not having any other chance, when you simply must wait. Waiting for a call with the consulate, waiting for a call for information about your beloved ones, waiting for tomorrow to come so you can go to the Embassy and talk with somebody. Waiting for something to happen. Four have months passed since Rakan got a refugee status in Hungary, but nothing has happened. His children are still very far. In the afternoon I felt that yes I wanted to do something, anything to support him. I don't agree with the hunger strike in the first place, but I understood Rakan's need to do something: it's like a compulsion. It was his choice, even if he knows that's a very risky choice."
Saturday, June 20th
“I went on hunger strike because I wanted Rakan to eat, and be strong, and be with his children. It was a symbolic gesture that cannot capture, not even for one minute the experience of Rakan, because I knew I could eat the next day and I knew I can be with my friends and my family. So why did we decide to do this, as a group? I guess we wanted Rakan not to be by himself for a few days. If for nothing else, it was for solidarity.”
Friday, June 20th
"Why I am on (symbolic) hunger strike:
When I arrived in Budapest, I never felt alone. Even though I was a grown-up, my parents visited me just three weeks after I arrived. By now, my friends and family have come numerous times. And even though I feel very welcome in my ‘new home’ Hungary, only through keeping in touch with my loved ones, I can feel truly at home. I want Rakan, his children and everyone who seeks asylum in Hungary to have the same opportunities to be close to the people they miss.
My journey was much easier than Rakan’s – only a 9 hour train ride, eased by friendly people who helped me with the luggage. After all they have been through, including their long journey to Greece, I want Rakan’s children to have a journey at least as comfortable and fast as mine from now on. For them and many others, Hungary has to change its policies to make family reunifications easier. And since every day counts, I hope Hungary makes an exception and accepts Rakan’s children on humanitarian grounds.
In my hometown, Würzburg, eight Iranian refugees went on hunger strike in 2012 to avoid deportation and articulate political demands. Back then, I was unsure what to think about it. Hunger strikes are desperate measures and I do not want to encourage people to do them. Thus, I decided to support them rhetorically. Now, I am symbolically joining Rakan for a day: I want Rakan to eat, but I want his demands to be met. That is, why I am on hunger strike for today."
I follow the news regularly. And sure, I feel anxious when I read reports about war or disasters, people losing whatever they used to call their life. It’s impossible to imagine how I would act in a similar situation. I'm pretty sure you feel the same, no? You read the article, you feel blue for a while, you sympathize and wonder how a single person like you could help this crazy situation. When I first heard Rakan's story, these were my first thoughts exactly. The devastating injustice that he is facing made me wonder if anything I could do would help at all.
Rakan has lost his wife and mother to the Syrian war, and is living in a refugee camp now in Hungary. He does have children though, who are currently in Turkey, trying to make their way to their father. The whole story can be read from here. What is keeping the family apart now is the faceless bureaucracy of passports, stamps and policies, as the passports of the children are not recognised by the state that Rakan is now living in (Hungary). He has started a hunger strike as a last possible measure to have a political impact on getting his children to their father.
Being on a hunger strike for 24 hours does not risk my health in any way, but it's a real deed to support Rakan. In reality it was surprisingly difficult to refrain from eating for the whole day, and I'm talking about skipping one breakfast, one lunch, a dinner and my daily portion of coffee. It gave me a first-hand experience on how extreme a measure a hunger strike really is, like the one that Rakan is on. Hunger strike turns the body and health of the person in question into a tool for politics: that is a very extreme and dangerous act, and I could imagine that nobody would do such a thing if there was any other way to act.
My main point in this gesture is to show support to Rakan, especially after meeting him and seeing how calm, intelligent and determined he is on getting his family reunified. Secondly I want the news about this to spread, as his situation is terrifying but not too rare. Thirdly I wanted to prove that a single person can really do something, even if it's only symbolic: that's a lot more than no action at all. I hope that in the end there is a way to unify Rakan's family. So do participate, do spread the word, let's make it happen."