Iranian refugees stuck at the border between Greece and Macedonia has begun sewing their mouths shut in protest of being turned away from entering the countries. At least six people have protested this way, pressuring authorities into letting them pass. New immigration policies have been put into effect following the terrorist bombings in Paris, which block immigrants from all countries except Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Iranians, Moroccans, and Pakistani people have been stuck sitting at the border for several days now, disallowed access to countries that would help them get to Western Europe. Hamid, a young electrical engineer hoping to be granted access into one of the countries, said that he wants to go to “any free country in the world.” He added, “I cannot go back. I will be hanged.”
A group of men from Bangladesh have written, “shoot us, we would never go back” across their bare chests.
Even people who have made it into the United States are risking their lives and their health to show how desperate they are to avoid deportation. A Bangladeshi immigrant went on a hunger strike because if he returned to his home country as a member of the political opposition, he would be imprisoned or killed. “I knew if I go back, I’m going to lose my life so I decided with other detainees that if we die, we’ll die here without eating,” he said.
Rights groups have questioned the new policies of only allowing immigrants from a handful of specific countries. Asylum should be granted on the basis of merit rather than nationality, groups argue.
“To classify a whole nation as economic migrants is not a principal recognized by international law,” says Rados Djurovic, director of the Asylum Protection Centre. “We risk violating human rights and asylum law.”