On Tuesday, 12 July, 2011, approximately 35 police officers and other Cypriot authorities violently assaulted a group of Iranian and other refugees held in Larnaca detention center. During the attack, the Cypriot authorities threatened the refugees with handguns and used batons and brass knuckles to brutally beat the refugees, including an elderly 72-year old asylum-seeker, who was transferred to solitary confinement after the beatings. He, along with his family, was deported to Iran in the following days. One refugee is reported to have sustained a broken leg, for which he first received medical treatment 10 days after the attack. Neither the government of Cyprus nor the UNHCR nor any human rights organization has taken any substantive action with regard to these illegal attacks on defenseless detainees held for migration-related reasons
Video clips are in Farsi with English text provided below.
Severe Injury Inflicted on Iranian Refugee by Cyprus Police, 12 July 2011
This clip shows the severe injury inflicted on an Iranian refugee, Mostafa Hajilou, who was assaulted by Cyprus Police during a 12 July 2011 armed attack on a number of defenseless refugees at Larnaca detention center, a place where denied asylum-seekers are detained, sometimes for years. Hajilou first received medical attention for his injury, believed to be a broken leg, 10 days after the attacks.
“So we came to Cyprus and declared refugee status in a European nation. They [the police] came and beat us up. They said, “This is our country where you are claiming asylum.” This is my shoulder: [you see] signs of beatings by brass knuckles, and this is my broken leg. This is Cyprus, this is Europe, this is jail and this is Europe, this is my prison, this is what I get for declaring refugee status [in Cyprus]. They broke my leg.”
Severe Baton Beating Inflicted on Iranian Refugee by Cyprus Police, 12 July 2011
This clip shows the brutal violence inflicted on the back and neck of an Iranian refugee who came under attack by Cyprus Police during a 12 July 2011 attack on defenseless refugees at Larnaca detention center, a place where denied asylum-seekers are detained, sometimes for years. Approximately 25 refugees came under attack by Cypriot police, and it is reported that all of the refugees were beaten in the same way or worse.
“He is taking a video.”
“Can he stop it?”
“No go ahead and tell them.”
“They came and beat us up, and this is just one persons’ injury. They said you’re Iranians and you did this to our country [referring to the explosion of munitions cargo belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran, embargoed by the US in 2009 in Cyprus, which exploded on 11 July, killing 14, injuring 90, and causing widespread loss of electricity]. They beat us up all over. There is one guy with a broken leg and injuries to his shoulder. They beat us all over, on our chest, head, hands, everywhere.”
Video clips provided by the Cyprus Refugee Rights Movement.
Translation provided by Soheila Nikpour, Iran Refugee Amnesty Network.
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LETTER WRITING ACTION
Take action against the government of Cyprus for its depraved attacks against defenseless, rights-less refugees!
We ask concerned people to write to the International Red Cross, UNHCR, EU, foreign ministries, and the press regarding this crime against Iranian refugees in Cyprus. Email addresses and webform links appear below the sample letter.
To Whom It May Concern:
The Cypriot government’s ongoing, well-documented abuse of refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants has now culminated in a brutal attack on defenseless detained Iranian refugees by armed Cypriot authorities in Larnaca detention center on 12 July 2011. This is criminal and it is simply unacceptable at any level, no less for a country that is a member of the European Union.
I demand immediate investigation of prison and detention conditions in Cyprus by the International Red Cross.
Further, UNHCR must confer immediate protection on those attacked and ensure their rapid resettlement to a safe third country, as they clearly have basis for fearing political persecution by the Cypriot government.
Finally, I demand that the Cypriot government be held accountable immediately at level of the European Union, and a case against the government of Cyprus should be brought directly at the level of the EU Court of Human Rights.
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Members of the ICRIR include Action for Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East, International Federation for Iranian Refugees, Iranian Refugees Action Network, Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, and Mission Free Iran.