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Refugees on hunger strike over long Czech detention

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Drahonice, North Bohemia, Nov 10 (CTK) – Forty-four refugees from the Drahonice detention centre have launched a hunger strike in protest against their detention in the Czech Republic and possible return to their home countries, Mikulas Vymetal, a protestant priest in contact with the refugees, told CTK yesterday.
According to a statement that CTK received from Vymetal, the mostly Iraqi refugees complain of being detained in the country for more than 90 days in some cases. They write that they fled against fighting, prison and violence only to get into a new fight and prison and to be treated as if they were monsters.
Vymetal said some of the refugees fear that they would be returned to their homeland because they received a decision on their deportation.
The refugees going on hunger strike say they were not going to return home to die, and that they would die in the detention facility instead.
Vymetal said he was in contact with the refugees already when they were in the Bela-Jezova detention facility.
The Drahonice facility has been operating since early October.
Ombudsman Anna Sabatova and some NGOs assisting foreigners criticised the way, in which refugees were treated in the detention centres. Minister for Human Rights Jiri Dienstbier shared some of the criticism.
Justice Minister Robert Pelikan visited Drahonice last weekend and said he was satisfied with the living conditions in the facility.
The former prison in Drahonice has recently been turned into a detention centre for illegal immigrants. More than half of its 240 beds are currently occupied and only men are staying in the facility.

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