Anwar Nilufri, an Iranian Kurdish asylum seeker, has been on hunger strike for more than two months in front of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Athens, Greece. Unfortunately, so far, no official authorities, institutions, and governments have taken any action towards granting him asylum or transferring him to a safe third country.

Anwar Nilufri told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) about his latest situation in the following manner: “I went on a second hunger strike in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Athens on June 23, 2020, in protest to the failure [of the authorities] to process my resettlement request. My hunger strike continues to this day, Saturday, August 29, 2020. I have been on hunger strike for 68 days while living in the street without any shelter and under the scorching sun and intense summer heat. So far, the authorities have not only refused to process my application but also even abstained from offering me the necessary medical and legal assistance”.

The situation of Nilufri is just one example among thousand asylum seekers who have been forced to leave their country in the hope of living in a secure country such as Turkey and Greece because their lives were in danger at their home countries for various reasons, including socio-economic, political and others.

This is the second time that Anwar Nilufri has gone on a long hunger strike and put his life and health at risk to receive the right to asylum and the right to live in a safe country – after 6 years of uncertainty in Greece and after being deported from Sweden. His first hunger strike lasted for 64 days from March 21, 2017, to May 23, 2017.

The KHRN, as a human rights organization with a history of anti-oppression activities, is committed to raising awareness and publishing news about the violation of Human Rights in Iranian Kurdistan and improving Human Rights. Given the current dire situation of Anwar Nilufri and the reasonable grounds compelling him to leave Iran, the KHRN supports the asylum rights of this Iranian Kurdish citizen and all other asylum seekers, whilst also calling on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take immediate action to process his asylum application and transfer him to a safe third country before the continuation of his hunger strike which causes more severe irreparable damage to his body and puts his life in serious danger.

KHRN also draws the attention of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Refugee Governments to the widespread deportation of Iranian political asylum seekers from Turkey to Iran, which in many cases leads to arrests and heavy prison sentences and even executions by the Iranian government. The KHRN thereby requests from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and governments to fulfil their legal and humanitarian obligations to asylum seekers by preventing forced deportation and repatriation of asylum seekers to Iran.

The suicide of an Iranian Kurdish refugee in Switzerland, Massoud Ghaderi, which happened last week after the rejection of his asylum application, reflects the fact that refugees are fearful of their life being in danger upon returning to Iran. The increasing number of asylum seekers, like Massoud Ghaderi, who commit suicide demonstrates well the necessity to raise awareness about the oppression of asylum seekers and to remind international refugee authorities and institutions, especially asylum-seeking governments, of their responsibility towards protecting the life and safety of the people who are forced to flee from their country.


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Athens

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ottawa