Updated: 03/02/17 : 05:32:43
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Sligo migrant hunger striker resumes fast in Dublin

An Iranian asylum seeker, who ended a 36-day hunger-strike last November in Sligo after assurances he could apply for asylum in Ireland, has renewed his fast.

Amjad Rosstami (45) has not eaten since January 4th as he says his asylum application was rejected a month after he applied. Mr Rosstami, who had been in Globe House, a direct provision hostel in Sligo during his last hunger strike, was moved to Balseskin reception centre in Dublin in December.

He spoke to The Irish Times during an appointment for blood tests in the Mater hospital on Wednesday. Sounding and looking weak, he explained he had come to Ireland from London six months ago as he had been homeless there and could get “no help”.

His initial application for asylum here was rejected as, according to European asylum law, a person must apply for asylum in the first EU country they arrive in. He feared if he went back to the United Kingdom, however, he would be returned to Iran. He would “rather die of starvation than go back to Iran”. As a Kurd, he said he faced death under the current Iranian regime.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned the treatment of Kurdish and other minorities by the Iranian government.

The threat to return him to the UK was lifted by the Department of Justice on November 14th and he was assured he could apply for asylum in Ireland. There had been candlelit vigils outside the Globe House hostel in Sligo as his condition deteriorated.

Fear of death

“I moved to Balseskin and I applied for asylum on December. On January 3rd, I got a letter saying saying my application was rejected,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “I started hunger strike the next day. I cannot go back to Iran. If I go back they will kill me.”

He said he had a wife and four children in Iran about whom he was worried, but added they were safer if he was not in Iran. The Iranian government is implacably opposed to Kurdish separatism.

He has been refusing food, but taking liquids for the past 29 days, and says he will begin refusing liquids next week. Asked how he is feeling, he speaks quietly, saying after the first week he felt dizzy.

“I feel very destroyed in my body and health. I feel hopeless.”

Mr Rosstami, who appeared thin and pale, had been sent to the hospital for tests. The person interpreting for The Irish Times was a friend who had travelled from Sligo to support him.

He said he did not know what would happen and a deportation order now hung over him. “I have a problem because I am in danger in Iran. My family is in danger. I will die if I go back there. This is Europe. This is democracy. What is justice? What is equality in Europe?”

A spokesman said the Department of Justice was aware of Mr Rosstami’s case, but was “precluded from commenting on an individual’s case”.