The refugees from Camp Altash

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A group of 45 asylum seekers from Kurdistan-Iran tell their story and explain why they are currently demonstrating against the Danish Immigration Service, that has rejected all their cases.

by the refugees from Altash Camp

We are a group of Kurdish asylum seekers from Kurdistan-Iran. A lot of us have been rejected by the Danish Immigration Service, because northern Iraq is seen as our first country of asylum. Therefore, we will peacefully demonstrate in front of the Danish parliament building, each day from Monday the 30th of January till Saturday 4th of February between 10am and 2pm.

With these demonstrations we want to give an account of ourselves, what our asylum motive is, and address the Danish immigration authorities in order to confirm our identity and inform about our condition in the northern Iraq. The Danish Immigration Service has claimed that northern Iraq is our first country of asylum in the light of some observations which a group from The Danish Immigration Service has conducted during a trip to northern Iraq. We do not believe that northern Iraq is our first country of asylum as the country can not protect us as refugees. There is no passed law, administrative supervision, or political decisions that provide us with protection, rights, or protection against being forced to be returned to Iran.

Historical background

We are refugees from Kurdistan-Iran, which is also our origin. We are the so called ‘refugees from Altash Camp’. In 1979 we were forced to escape from Kurdistan-Iran to Iraq due to the war between Iran and Iraq and our political involvement. After two years of settlement in Iraq we were removed by the dictatorial regime in Iraq to Altash Camp. The Altash Camp was a dessert area 120 km from Baghdad. The area was enclosed. The living standard in the camp were far from humane. A lot of people died in the camp due to starvation and diseases.

All the refugees who were removed to Altash Camp lived in the area for about 22 years until the fall of Saddam Hussein and his dictatorial regime. After the fall of the regime, Iraq was chaos. We feared the USA bombings and we feared Al-Qaeda. We fled to the northern Iraq. Here we were divided into three camps. A fourth group settled in the borderland between Iraq, Syria, and Jordan.

Even though we settled down in some of the camps in northern Iraq, we were not viewed as political refugees or regular Iraqi citizens. We were only considered as Kurds from Iran who had settled down in different camps. We did not have access to the health care system like the Iraqi citizens. We could not travel freely in Iraq or out of Iraq as we could not get travel identification cards. We did not have the same access to the educational system and the job market as the Iraqi citizens. We were not protected against being send back to Iran where there was a risk of death sentences and political persecution. In other words, we were a group without affiliation and rights.

Present situation

This, among other things, was the reason for why more and more people escaped from these camps in northern Iraq and fled to the European countries, hoping for a better life where basic human rights would secure their lives. The majority of these refugees arrived in Denmark and we are today about 45 asylum seekers from Altash Camp residing in the different Danish asylum camps. We have all applied for asylum as regular refugees.

The Iraqi authorities could not protect us socially or economically. There was no real asylum procedure. Iraqi citizens could get economical support, whereas we were left to ourselves, to find roof over our heads and money for livelihood.
We want to inform you that each of us from Altash Camp got positive from the Danish Immigration Service. But unfortunately, since March of 2011 when the Danish group visited the north of Iraq (Kurdistan), everyone of us got rejected.

We want to inform the Danish authorities about our situation and need all the support we can get!

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