54 Saharauis in Hunger Strike While Detained in the Madrid-Barajas Airport

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Source: Insurgente.org / The Dawn News / August 30, 2017

Saharaui protest – Vozpópuli

Over fifty Saharaui citizens stranded in the Madrid-Barajas airport have begun a hunger strike after being denied asylum.

“There are 54 of us currently in hunger strike since last Tuesday noon—without food and without water”, said Saad Asman, one of the asylum-seekers. He added that thus far no one had showed concern for their health. Some of them were suffering from dizziness and hipoglucemia, and one is a diabetic. Asman said that a spokesperson of the Police had informed them that this act of protest “is their own problem” and that “they aren’t going to solve anything like that”. “We have been locked in a tiny room, without air conditioning, for two days. The windows have double glazing. We can’t see the sun. There’s a door that’s guarded by the Police 24 hours a day”, Asman said.

The 54 Saharauis arrived to Spain in flights that departed from Argelia over the last ten days. They are all males, and they are between 18 and 35 years old. 52 of them come from the refugee camps of Western Sahara—a territory now oppressed by Morocco after having been colonized by the Spanish crown—and two come from Cuba, where they graduated as medical doctors. “Many of them are students who would rather suffer a hunger strike and detention in Spain than to risk their lives going back to Algeria, where many of them have been threatened with death”, their spokesman informed.

Spain has assigned them a public defender, without allowing them to choose their defense, and a translator of Moroccan origin.

The Spanish Network of Immigration and Assistance to Refugees has issued a complaint to the Ombudsman demanding a solution for their situation. They denounce that authorities are prohibiting NGOs from “directly assisting the group”, and this prevents “doing our work of assistance, that must freely be offered to whomever requests asylum”. They say the conditions in which the Saharauis are being held are “deplorable”, and that they attempted to enter the facilities last Tuesday “without success”, despite their attempts to negotiate “with the police operative that is keeping them detained”.

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