“You were 23 then, you are 9 now”: Cyprus Abuse of Human Rights Allows Continuation of Crimes against Asylum-Seekers
“You were 23 then, you are 9 now. I am going to displace another 3 of you, and I am going to make life hell for you.” – Galou Girou, Chief of Larnaca Prison, on 5 August 2011, threatening the remaining of the asylum-seekers beaten during the 12 July police attacks in Cyprus.
August 5, 2011, Washington D.C. — On 15 July 2011, we issued a press release detailing a violent attack by prison authorities against Iranian and other refugees held for migration-related reasons in the Famagusta Detention Center in Larnaca, Cyprus.
At that time, we were clear that all asylum-seekers who were attacked by the Cypriot authorities required urgent international assistance in being removed from the facility. We demanded formal protection for these people – from the Cypriot government, from the Red Cross, and from UNHCR. No protection of the asylum-seekers, nor condemnation of the police brutality, has been forthcoming from any of the aforementioned agencies.
As a result, from among those who witnessed or were beaten during the attacks, 3 members of a Baha’i family seeking protection in Cyprus have been illegally deported back to Iran. A Syrian Kurd asylum-seeker whose application had been denied (as are most in Cyprus) has been deported back to the wholesale slaughter in that country. A Christian asylum-seeker publicly affiliated with a Christian Cypriot radio station was psychologically browbeaten by the authorities to the point that he acceded to their demands to leave Cyprus and return to Iran, where he is considered an apostate and subject to detention, torture, and even execution. The whereabouts of 9 other witnesses or victims of the attacks are unknown.
Today, after representatives from the office of the Ombudsman of Cyprus visited and interviewed the asylum-seekers about the police attacks of 12 July 2011, they were threatened again by the officer in charge of the Larnaca detention facility, Galou Girou. Girou told the detained asylum-seekers: “You were 23 then [at the time of the attacks], you are 9 now. I am going to displace another 3 of you, and I am going to make life hell for you.”
A few hours later, it is reported that the authorities came and told Ahmad Hosseini to pack his belongings, and they removed him from the facility. His whereabouts are unknown to us.