Solidarity with Refugees

ICRIR: Under Increasing Pressure, Iranian and Other Asylum-Seekers Detained in Cyprus Lodge Complaint with the European Union

21 July 2011, Washington DC — In a telephone contact from Mohammad Khosh Sorour, a refugee among those recently assaulted by authorities in the Larnaca detention center in Cyprus, he reported that the situation prevailing in the detention center is extremely harsh. He conveyed his report to activists with the Cyprus Refugee Rights Movement.

“We don’t have telephone contact possibilities, no television, no sheets for our beds, and so on. They have changed all the personnel who usually took care of our visits with people from outside. We are not allowed to receive anything from outside while visiting, like letters, books, or anything like that. The inhumane treatment of the detainees and deportation threats by the detention center authorities has caused a lot of fear and people are terrified,” relayed Mr. Khosh Sorour.

During the same conversation, Mr. Khosh Sorour provided the names of those detainees who want their names signed under an official complaint to be filed with the Parliament of the European Union. These include both Iranians and a number of non-Iranians facing similar circumstances.

The complaint appears below in full:

To: Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament
Re: Complaint against the recent criminal acts of the Cyprus government in Larnaca detention center
From: The undersigned complainant detained asylum-seekers in Larnaca detention

On 12 July 2011, approximately 35 members of the Cypriot police, CID and migration agents, all armed with batons, brass knuckles, and firearms, without any provocation from us, the detained asylum-seekers in Larnaca detention center, attacked us. While using racist and degrading language, they started beating us. We had no way of defending ourselves.

Among us were Mr. B., a 72-year-old man who suffers from heart disease, and his son O., who were, more than others, the target of the fury of these savage attackers. They broke Mostafa Hajilou’s leg in the attack. During these beatings, authorities of the Cypriot government repeated the accusation, “You Iranians are responsible for the explosion of the Islamic Republic’s confiscated cargo!”

Without any doubt, what these 35 officers of the Cypriot government did has as a prerequisite a deeply degraded personal sense of humanity. We Iranians are well-acquainted with phenomena such as basij, plainclothes thugs, Kahrizak and Evin. We know well that there exist human beings who enjoy torturing, raping, breaking hands and legs, and we know that there are regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran — and Cyprus — that handpick these outcast elements to advance their anti-human “politics.” Therefore, our complaint first and foremost is not against those 35 savages of the Cypriot government; our complaint is against their owner and employer, i.e., the Cypriot government. We complain against the Cypriot government for this government’s enduring embrace of disgusting anti-asylum-seeker politics as follows:

1) On 12 July 2011, 35 members of police, CID and immigration attacked us, the undersigned, as well as a Syrian asylum-seeker, and savagely beat us.

a) This attack and beatings were not provoked by us. During the beatings, we were accused of having responsibility for the recent explosion [of the Islamic Republic’s munitions]. This accusation by itself demonstrates the level of intelligence and knowledge of these officials, and their ignorance about the very close ties between the Cypriot government and the terrorist regime of the Islamic Republic. Nevertheless, this accusation must be the only basis for this savage attack.

b) In civilized countries, the amount of force used by law enforcement must be proportional to the resistance put up by the subject of arrest. We 6 detained asylum-seekers, among us a 72-year-old man with heart disease, completely lacked any possibility to resist. We were completely subject to their mercy. Even if we wanted to resist, we had no chance against 35 armed policemen. What kind of resistance could we 6 detainees put up to necessitate the use of a weapon like brass knuckles by government forces? We accuse the government of Cyprus of using excessive force without any justification. We further accuse the government of Cyprus of using unauthorized, illegal weapons.

2) Mr. B, the old man of 72 years with heart problems, after being severely beaten, was separated from the rest of the detained asylum-seekers. This was done despite his need for medical attention to his injuries, and without regard for his sickness and need for medication. Placing a battered, elderly man suffering from heart disease in solitary confinement was perpetrated by the Cypriot authorities as a exhibit of power, and from our point of view did not have any legal grounds – could not have any legal grounds even if Mr. B were a criminal. But Mr. B not only was not a criminal, but to the contrary, because of his religious beliefs, was entitled to protection, for the same reason he fled the Islamic Republic. Placing Mr. B in solitary confinement was done to intimidate him and us. Given the situation of Mr. B, this act of the Cypriot government can be considered no less than torture. We complain against the government of Cyprus for intentionally torturing an elderly and sick asylum-seeker.

3) During the beatings, agents of the Cypriot government waved their handguns in our faces and threatened to bestow upon us a death such as that reserved for “stray dogs.” This threat, and pulling handguns on us, reminds us of mock executions by the Islamic Republic. We consider this psychological torture. We complain against the government of Cyprus for engaging in psychological torture.

4) On 13 July 2011, Mr. Galou Girou, while apologizing for the events of the day before, which he himself was part of, ordered us not to tell the outside world about the attack and beatings. Freedom of speech is our right, and any effort by the Cypriot government to limit our freedoms more than they have already done by detaining us is a crime. We complain against the Cyprus government for depriving us of our basic human rights and liberties by forcing us into silence.

5) On 14 July 2011, officials of the detention center talked to each one of us separately and threatened each one of us separately with death if we talked to the media about the events of the past 2 days. We take these death threats very seriously. We complain against the government of Cyprus for illegally threatening to kill us.

6) Today, 15 July 2011, none of us who were beaten and injured during the savage attacks of the 12th of July, not even Mostafa Hajilou, in excruciating pain from his broken leg, have received any kind of medical attention. We complain against the government of Cyprus for taking measures – including intentionally withholding medical treatment – that endanger our health, our lives, and our security.

7) During the duration of our detention, and especially on 12 July 2011, we have been subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment and racist comments. Humiliating people systematically as a part of a politics of suppression and as an excuse for depriving human beings of their rights is a crime. We complain against the government of Cyprus for humiliating and systematically degrading us asylum-seekers.

This complaint is sent to the European Union and to all organizations that defend human rights. We will, through our political and civil organizations, bring charges against the Cypriot government at the European Union Court of Human Rights.

Sincerely,
The Undersigned

Mohammad Khosh-Sorour
Mohsen Khosravani
Ahmad Hosseini
Mostafa Haghiloo

and, among non-Iranians,

Zakariya Ebrahim
Loghman Hanan Ajijo
Abdo Rasho
Mohammad Malek Madar

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