Hunger strike by aslyum-seekers in Hungary enters second day

Orient Net - AP 2017-03-15 16:13:00

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Dozens of asylum-seekers in Hungary continued their hunger strike for a second day Tuesday, demanding to be released from detention, authorities said.

The protest coincided with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in favor of two asylum-seekers from Bangladesh found to have been detained and deported illegally by Hungary in 2015.

The 80 detainees on hunger strike are part of a group of the 102 asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, being held at the closed reception center in the southeastern city of Bekescsaba.

Images broadcast on Hungarian state television showed some of those inside the reception center holding a sheet saying "We are refugees, we are not terrorists" through a barred window.

Hungary’s Office of Immigration and Asylum said in a statement to The Associated Press that it boosted medical services because of the hunger strike, with social workers and armed security guards monitoring the asylum-seekers for any signs of sickness. Ninety-four detainees began the strike on Monday.

According to a ruling by European Court of Human Rights, Ilias Ilias and Ali Ahmed were each awarded 10,000 euros (10,645 US dollars) plus costs because of their detention in a transit zone at the Hungarian border with Serbia, where both applied for asylum, and later deportation to Serbia.

Among other issues, the court found that Hungarian authorities had failed to carry out an individual assessment of each applicant’s asylum case and put them at risk of being sent back all the way to Greece "to face inhuman and degrading reception conditions."

The court also found that the 23 days the two men were held at the fenced and guarded transit zone "amounted to detention, meaning they had effectively been deprived of their liberty without any formal, reasoned decision and without appropriate judicial review."

Late in 2015, Hungary built fences protected by razor wire on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia to stop the migrants from moving through the country toward Western Europe. Legislation adopted last week would keep all asylum-seekers at container camps on the Serbian border. Human rights organizations have asked President Janos Ader to veto the bill.

The ruling would clear the way for every asylum-seeker detained in Hungary to seek compensation at the European court, said the Hungarian Helsinki Foundation, which represented the two men in the lawsuit.

Hungary’s governing Fidesz party said it was "absurd" that the country had to pay "for protecting not only the country’s borders, but Europe’s too."

"We maintain that the migrant crisis can be handled with the forceful protection of the borders," said Balazs Hidveghi, the party’s communications director.