Interview with a former hunger striker (vom 27.10.2012),
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[27. Oct 2012]

Interview with a former hunger striker

In the "Zhuravychi Migrant Accom- modation Centre" in Ukraine mainly Somali detainees started a hunger strike in the beginning of 2012 and called for their immediate release. According to a report from September, 98 persons are still imprisoned.

Under them are 36 Somali citizens, 21 Afghans and 7 Moldavians (more :: here). This means, that Ukraine is still violating the rights especially of Somali refugees, guaranteed inter alia in the European Convention on Human Rights. Border Monitoring Project Ukraine (BMPU) spoke to a former hunger striker, who now stays in a neighboring EU-member state.

Have you seen a judge before you were detained?

There is no judge. Nobody is going to judge you. The policeman, the border guards will judge you while you are in their room. They took me for one year to Lutski [=Zhuravychi Detention Centre].

Why did you decide to start the hunger strike in the beginning of this year?

After we came to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government never give us anything. There are no human rights. They never give us a document. They just arrest you. The policeman has the right to do anything with you. They just treat us in the way they want. They just came in your room and say: " let's go to the police station". And if you ask them why, where I'm going, they tell you "we will take you one year in jail". What have I done? Am I a criminal? I'm just a refugee.

Where were the people arrested?

Everywhere. Vinnitsa, Uzhgorod, Kiev. They don't care. But mostly it was in Vinnista. They take you from Vinnitsa to jail. From Kiev to jail. And if you finish one year, if the police catch you in Kiev, in Charkiv or in Vinnitsa they take you back again. If you ask them "what is the reason" they say because you don't have documents! But I asked the government and the government refused to give me a document and I spend one year in jail.

These arrests were the main reason for the hunger strike?

Also the beatings, the torture. And they take your belongings. If you have a mobile, they take it. There is no place to live in Ukraine. If you rent a house, the police calls the owner of the house and than the owner says that he can't allow you to stay in his room. In winter it is a big problem, if you don't have a place to stay. There are a lot of problems. That's why we did the hunger strike. We just asked the government to recognize us as refugees and to treat us as humans beings.

During the hunger strike, Ukrainian special forces entered the detention centre. Can you tell something about that?

They came from outside. I don't know their names. But they were carrying big guns, pistols, helmets, big shoes. They ran through the camp. They punched us with the big shoes and the big sticks. All of us. They searched all our beds. Everything. Even some people were complaining that they took their belongings. And then they forced some of us to eat. When some of us went to the dinning hall, they pictured them eating. It was a video. Camera video.

Can you tell something about the visits of lawyers and UNHCR?

They are nothing. If you are a lawyer in Ukraine, you are nothing because the government is ruled by money. They can't do anything, even if they have a PhD. They don't care about that. They care about money, if you have money, you can do everything you want. If you don't have money you have to stay down.

Some people got a dovitka [document saying you are in the asylum procedure] in detention?

Not all of us, some of us. They gave this dovitka but nobody was released because of this. When I was free after one year they gave me rejection. After one month I ran away because I know, if they catch me again, they will take me one year again and they will beat me. That's why I ran away from Ukraine.

Article published first on 02. Oct 2012 @ ::