Iranian migrants stitch lips in protest

For Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities, the war waged by the Islamic Republic of Iran is largely an invisible one.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Six Iranian migrants sewed their lips on Thursday to protest the evacuation of asylum seekers and refugees in a camp in northern France.

French authorities began demolishing the makeshift refugee camp in the outskirts of the port city Calais, known as "The Jungle” among the thousands displaced there.

Refugees have settled in Calais waiting for an opportunity to make their way into the United Kingdom through the English Channel. However, a French court last month decided that these camps are allowed to be  destroyed.

Some of the displaced reportedly sat on the roofs of their rudimentary homes to prevent demolition. Aid workers say approximately 3,000 live in the camp while official statistics state only 300 people reside there.

The small group of Iranians held up signs urging United Nations representatives to visit their camps, an act mirroring Iranian migrants in Greece and Macedonia, who in October held placards in English reading, "Will you listen now?” and “Where is our democracy?”

In a statement, Calais Town Hall said the lip sewing and protest aroused “deep emotion” yet additionally explained that there is no need for a protest. “Nothing justifies such extremes when the state has done everything to take migrants out of these undignified conditions,” the statement read.

French authorities say they will provide several heated containers near the camp and have established over 100 centers to house the growing number of immigrants. But residents of the Jungle do not give up on their dream of reaching the UK where they believe a better life awaits them. Some of the luckier ones even have family or friends in Great Britain.

Many other European countries state that they will accept more refugees, particularly from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, as opposed to Iran.

Many Iranian Kurds are among the swelling crowds trying to find a home in Europe.

Although Iran is not experiencing a bloody civil war or insurgency, Iranian Kurds have many reasons to leave their homes and start life anew in the west. For Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities, the war waged by the Islamic Republic of Iran is largely an invisible one.

Kajal, a 34-year-old woman from Sina (Sanandaj) fled the country with her four-year-old son and told Kurdistan24 that she is going through the indignities as a refugee because she wants her son to have a better life elsewhere when he grows up.

Pedram, a 20-year-old from Bokan, told Kurdistan24 he left because he would constantly get into trouble with religious police over his haircuts, T-shirts, and jeans, a style that does not comply with the strict Islamic dress code. “I was not into politics, but I’d constantly get into trouble."

Ebrahim is in his late twenties, holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and had a decent job in Iran. “I want to go and live a life with basic welfare. Somewhere where I can work and study in peace, have fun, and experience life. Not like in Iran, with all the shortages and where life is depressing,” he told Kurdistan24.


Reporting by Ava Homa

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Benjamin Kweskin