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Afghani asylum seekers continue hunger strike

Around 100 demonstrators turned out in Helsinki Friday in support of three Afghani men who are in the second week of a hunger strike after their applications for asylum were rejected by immigration authorities.

Mielenosoitus eduskuntatalon edustalle leiriytyneiden afganistanilaisten turvapaikanhakijoiden puolesta.
Demonstrators protested in support of the hunger strikers who have camped out in from of Parliament. Image: Yle

The three men have been carrying out their protest in front the Finnish Parliament since September 10th in an effort to pressure officials into reversing the decision to reject their applications for asylum. They have filed an appeal against the Immigration Service ruling with an administrative court.

Finland considers some parts of Afghanistan secure areas to which asylum seekers can be safely returned.

The Free Movement Network (Vapaa liikkuvuus –verkosto) which defends immigrant rights organized a demonstration on Friday in support of the three hunger strikers.  The march through central Helsinki drew around 100 activists.

One of the hunger strikers, Abdullahi Gulamsediq, told Yle that he has a political background in Afghanistan.

"If I have to go back, my life is in danger," he said. "We undertook a hunger strike because the decision by the Finnish Immigration Service is inhumane."

According to Gulamsediq, the three are prepared to continue their hunger strike, even though they would rather not. They know of people who have been expelled from Finland to Afghanistan, and say that they have been imprisoned upon their return.

"All returns to Afghanistan must be suspended immediately," demanded Katja Tuominen of the Free Movement Network during Friday's demonstration.

According to Tuominen, recent violence in Afghanistan is proof that no part of the country can be considered safe.

The Finnish Immigration Service declines to comment on individual cases. According to the Immigration Service, around 200 people from Afghanistan apply for asylum in Finland annually.

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