24 Iraqi refugees held in a detention centre in Oxford have started a hunger strike to protest against the government’s plans to deport them to Baghdad. More than 70 people are currently being held in detention centres around the country. Officials from the Iraqi government are currently visiting them to confirm their identities so that they can be deported, as part of an agreement between the two governments.
The majority of the detainees have refused to meet with the officials in protest at their role in the deportations.
A statement from the group, which consists of Kurdish and Iraqi refugees, says:
"Some of us don’t have any homes or nowhere to go in Iraq. If we were returned we would be left to survive for ourselves on the streets with nothing, which isn’t. Some of us don’t even know if our family members are alive or dead because we haven’t had any contact with them for a long time.
While we have been in England, for all different amounts of times, we have lived here safely and got on with our lives. We have family and friends here. Being parted from them at this time is very hard and stressful for both sides. Some of us are engaged or married, and have wives here in England. We also have children here, some of us more than one. Some of our wives are expecting babies. They need to be together as families.
Everyone has the right to be able to live in a safe country. It is not right if we are returned to Iraq. Our lives would be ended."
Dashty Jamal from the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees says:
"the UK government is responsible for the tragedy in Iraq. They are playing politics with the lives of Iraqi refugees. They are making a deal with the despotic Iraqi regime, which the Iraqi people are currently rising up against, to send people back."
There will be a demonstration outside the Iraqi Parliament in Sulaymania on Sunday 12th June to protest against the deportations.
For more information about how to support the campaign against deportations to Baghdad please go to: http://www.federationifir.com/english/En.file/camping%20against%20deport%20to%20iraq.html