SP Youth at demonstration against inhuman asylum policy

29 July 2006

SP Youth at demonstration against inhuman asylum policy

On Saturday 29th July SP youth organisation ROOD (pronounced 'rote', it means, simply, 'RED') was well represented at a demonstration organised by Prime (Participating Refugees in Multicultural Europe) in solidarity with Ali Anoushei, an Iranian asylum seeker who has been on hunger strike for 47 days to protest against the decision that he should be deported.

ROOD chair Renske Leijten said: “We are present at today's demonstration to support Ali’s struggle for humane treatment. But in our opinion hunger strike is always a weapon which leads nowhere. The Minister for Immigration and Integration, Rita Verdonk, is never going to allow anyone to stay in the Netherlands as a result of pressure from this kind of action. We are here to make it clear to the minister that she must look closely at the consequences of her policy, that it's all about people and not dossier numbers."

Ali has been in the Netherlands for six years and obtained permission from the courts to remain on medical grounds. Ms Verdonk appealed this decision in the Council of State, a higher court. Why? Because in theory treatment for his condition, post-traumatic stress syndrome, would also be available to him in Iran. On paper Iran is also a safe country, one to which political refugees can return without fear.

In the square in The Hague large numbers gathered in solidarity and following Renske Leijten's speech, in which she called on Ali to start eating again in order that together they could struggle for a more humane asylum policy, people began to collect signatures for a spontaneous petition. As Renske explained, “Two women from the crowd went off to buy pens and paper so that they could ask people to sign in demonstration of their support for Ali, but also to ask Ali to start eating again."

“It is a scandal for our country that people are driven to such despair that they resort to a hunger strike as the only possible way out," said Renske Leijten, “I have spoken with Ali. and he doesn't see any other way. He was a student, could go to university, had a home - and now he's on the street. Homeless, because Iran would supposedly be safe for him. It's really horrific that this can happen in the Netherlands.”

People turned out in numbers to show that they wanted to see a change of policy

Renske talking with Ali, who is too weak to stand up

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