The year of the hunger strikes

When people no longer are in power of their own lives, they can resist by mastering their own deaths. In 2012 the hunger strike was deployed as a mode of resistance among migrants in Danish asylum camps and a political prisoner in Bahrain. This text analyzes the representation of the two hunger strikes in the Danish media.

By Lise Olivarius • Illustrations by Mia Edelgart • From #8, 2013

If 2011 was the year of the revolutions – from Tahrir Square to Wall Street – 2012 was the year of the hunger strikes. Pussy Riot did it in Russia. Julia Timoshenko did it in Ukraine. Political prisoners did it en masse in the Middle East. And migrants did it in asylum camps in Denmark. In terms of the amount of space that hunger strikes took up in the Danish media landscape in the year of 2012, it is fair to talk about a momentum for this form of resistance. Although often vehemently condemned, the hunger strikes were there, represented in the media, and that is a point in itself. A hunger strike is a performative mode of resistance, and the representation and the audience are at least as important as the act of starving.

“Who is granted the use of violence against what?”

This text will zoom in on the asylum seekers’1 hunger strike in Denmark, while comparing to one specific, political prisoner in Bahrain, asking why the latter hunger strike was widely considered more legitimate and portrayed more sympathetically than the former. When, for whom and what against does the hegemonic discourse consider it legitimate to hunger strike? Which subjects are allowed to resist how against what? Who is granted the use of violence against what?

Slow death: Necropolitics

“It is a slow death to be an asylum seeker for years” (Nielsen 2012), write the 11 hunger striking Iranian asylum seekers in a joint statement. This is more than mere polemics. Death is not metaphorical here, it is literal. And death is a recurrent theme in the media discourse on the asylum hunger strikes. On several occasions, the hunger strikes are quoted for stating that death is their only option. Thus, Farhad Talebi: “We will hungerstrike as long as we live[…] No matter what I will die. Either here or in Iran.” (Larsen 2012a). Another article sums up that: “Whether death occurs in an asylum center in Denmark, the homeland of Iran, or in a church in Nørrebro doesn’t make a big difference for the 11 asylum seekers.” (Larsen 2012b). The hunger strikers’ most recurrent argument – filtered through the hegemonic discourse of the media representation – is that death is unavoidable, and that taking death into their own hands is their last and only option:
“Hunger strike is my only way out” (Larsen 2012c).

“I know that hunger strikes are bad for me, bad for my body and my health, but I can’t do anything. Only hungerstrike. Maybe someone will hear me and do something.” (Krøl 2012).

According to these quotes, asylum seekers turn to hunger striking, when they are deprived of other kinds of political agency. Desperation is another key word throughout the media coverage. Does that not make the deliberate self-starvation the ultimate expression of powerlessness?
Not necessarily. For the philosopher Achille Mbembe, dying can be an expression of agency. Mbembe’s essay ‘Necropolitics’ (2003) argues that death – in the very concrete and literal sense – plays a central role for present-day political power structures. Mbembe introduces the concept of necropolitics, politics of death, as a corrective to Michel Foucault’s influential concept of biopolitics, politics of life. Biopolitics or biopower2 is the contemporary, decentralized power to control and cultivate life in all its aspects, as opposed to the past power of the sovereign to take the life of his subjects, i.e. the power of death. Foucault’s mistake, argues Mbembe, is to relegate death to an irrelevant appendix of the biopolitical system, where death, according to Mbembe, still has a central function. Therefore, the Foucauldian notion of a (however seemingly) “benevolent” power mainly operating through the cultivation of life is inadequate. But necropolitics is not an alternative to biopolitics; rather, it is a recognition of the crucial function of death in the biopolitical realm. Necropolitical death is a precondition for the biopolitical cultivation of life. Just think about the legitimizations of war with security arguments, or, more abstractly, about how maintaining the living standards of a dominant, Western class have fatal costs in other parts of the world and other layers of society. Some people must die so that others may live.

“Some people must die so that others may live.”

Necropolitics does not only operate through the spectacular death, the singular death of the individual body caused by the bomb, the gun, the drone, or the lethal injection. Necropolitics also operates through the control of populations by keeping them only barely alive in so-called death worlds (Mbembe 2007:40), on the border between life and death as what Mbembe calls living dead (Mbembe 2007:40). Mbembe illustrates the many facets of death’s political function through a wide variety of historical examples. The point is that neither of the necropolitical atrocities listed by Mbembe, not even Holocaust, are exceptions; on the contrary, they are the foundation of the current world order. Not the rupture, but the rule: “the nomos of the political space in which we still live.”(Mbembe 2007:14). Or, as Giorgo Agamben would put it: The state of exception has become constant3. One of Agamben’s most famous points is that society depends on whom it excludes. With Mbembe, we could take it a little further and venture to suggest that society depends on whom it kills.

There is reason for suggesting that the migrants caught in the Danish asylum system are incarnations of Mbembe’s “living dead”, and that the asylum camp, or the state of being an “asylum seeker”, is a Mbembian “death world”, a necropolitical topos, seemingly abject and exceptional, but actually normal and necessary. Slow death, as the hunger striking asylum seekers of the church calls their life as asylum seekers, when they manage to make their voice heard in the media. Almost as if they had read the American queer theorist Lauren Berlant’s eponymous essay, or as if she had read their press release. Berlant deploys the term slow death for “the physical wearing out of a population and the deterioration of people in that population that is very nearly a defining condition of their experience and historical existence. The general emphasis of the phrase is on the phenomenon of mass physical attenuation under global/national regimes of capitalist structural subordination and governmentality.”(Berlant 2007:754).

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Racism: The distribution of degrees of life and Danishness

Could another name for slow death simply be racism? Lauren Berlant’s concept of slow death has a lot in common with Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s definition of racism as ”the state-sanctioned or extra-legal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.”(Gilmore 2007:28). Some must die prematurely so that others may live. This is structural racism. Structural racism is not intentionally committed by individuals, but maintained through systems such as states or discourses. It does not require the explicit mentioning of race, and it does not equal professing racial theories of the biological superiority of one race over others4. For Foucault, racism is the instance dividing people into those who must die and those who can live (Foucault 2003:258) – or those who must die so that others can live. Racism is a means of distributing degrees of life. Mbembe sums up that racism serves the purpose of justifying the death function of biopolitics. Racism is the vessel that transports the death power of the sovereign into the biopolitical system. In this homicidal, biopolitical realm – which is what Mbembe calls necropolitics – death is presented as having the function of saving lives. It is the security logic of the war, the state of emergency, which with racism has become constant, common, and mundane.

It is with this structural, Foucauldian understanding of racism in mind that I look at the racism at play in the media’s consistent denouncement of the asylum hunger strikes. Thus, it is an expression of racism when the hunger strikes by several media, politicians, and opinion formers repeatedly are condemned as “un-Danish” and, more seldom, as “unchristian” (by the philosopher Arno Victor Nielsen, cited in Heick 2012). The distribution of privileges – such as the privilege to participate in political life, e.g. by protesting – in accordance to nationality, culture, and religion is an expression of structural racism.

“Racism is a means of distributing degrees of life.”

A central point of the hegemonic discourse is that hunger strikes as a form of resistance don’t belong in Denmark. As the manager of Jelling Asylum Camp puts it: “No Danish caseworker is going to feel pressurized, and in Denmark, there is no tradition for that kind of action being succesful[…] In their part of the world, they have a tradition for making their point somewhat more vigorously than we have here.”(Baun 2012). The camp manager discursively disavows the hunger strikers as non-Western or un-Danish. Their lack of Danishness, certified by their exclusion from the Danish nation-state when they were denied asylum, is further emphasized by their protest against this exclusion, as the camp manager culturally disassociates herself from their protest taking the abject and alien form of a hunger strike.

Similar cultural-national disavowals abound in the media represented denouncements of the asylum hunger strikes. The discourse functions through a very frequent use of the words “Denmark” and “Danish”. Here are a few examples:
The manager of Sigerslev Asylum Camp: ”I have tried to explain to them that hunger striking is not a form of demonstration we are used to in Denmark, and the authorities don’t work under that kind of pressure. Then they say that they might as well die here as in Syria.”(Larsen 2012c).
Secretary General of Danish Red Cross Anders Ladekarl: “We tell them that in Denmark, this is not a method that is normally used or that has proved successful.” (Ritzau 2012).

Liberalist politician Inger Støjberg “points to the fact that Denmark is a state governed by law. – ‘And here, you can’t starve yourself to another verdict, and I actually think that we have an obligation to say to those asylum seekers, who are now hunger striking, that this is really not a method we use in Denmark’, she says.”(Krøl 2012).

Interestingly, there is a consensus about denouncing the asylum hunger strikes all across the (parliamentary) political spectrum, from the far right to the far left (Larsen 2012d). Regardless of which stance they otherwise take on asylum issues or migration policies, the politicians agree to condemn the fact that asylum seekers hunger strike. Most of the opinion formers outside of parliament who make their voices heard in the press take the same position (e.g. Heick 2012). Even the network Grandparents for Asylum, a pro-asylum support network identifying as “humanitarian”, agree to denounce the hunger strikes as misplaced in Denmark. Spokesperson Mogens Hilden appears in several different media with statements such as:”Nobody in the Danish society thinks that a hunger strike is a good thing. They won’t accept a hunger death threat. Death should not be used as a weapon.” (Lindqvist 2012). ”I hope that they eventually realize that this fight should be fought with other means – and not at the risk of their lives.” (Dagbladet Køge 2012a). Hilden here completely ignores the hunger strikers’ message, as it has been presented in the media – that they are already risking their lives. Hilden moreover manages to practice both victim-blaming: ”I don’t know how much we managed to emphasize the gravity of the situation that the hunger strikers have brought themselves in” (emphasis added) (Dagbladet Køge 2012b), and victimization, when he responds to the journalist’s question about what the asylum seekers should do instead: ”But they can’t do anything, those poor things. They can’t do anything but endure it”(Lindqvist 2012a). Similar condescending victimization is present in much of the media discourse and could also be referred to as infantilization: The hunger strikers are robbed of agency and portrayed as helpless children who don’t know what is best for them. Rhetorically, much of the discourse (apostrophically) addressed to the hunger strikers strongly resembles a grown-up’s rebuke of a child: “Grandparents for Asylum: Now stop that hunger strike” (Ibid).

To sum up: One of the major delegitimizing tactics deployed in the discourse surrounding the asylum hunger strikers, is the labeling of them and their form of resistance as un-Danish. This discursive distribution of Danishness, and the privileges that comes with it, is an expression of racialization, or racism, pure and simple.

National disavowal versus national appropriation

Compared to the asylum hunger strikes, Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike receives broad support in the Danish press. He is presented with titles such as “advocate of democracy” (Politiken 2012c) and ”human rights activist” (Jyllands-Posten 2012). The word freedom constitutes a leitmotif throughout the media coverage of his case. If the discourse about the asylum hunger strikers was characterized by a national disavowal, the Al-Khawaja discourse is conversely characterized by national appropriation, as his Danish citizenship is repeatedly emphasized. Or rather, his Danishness – the recurrent keywords freedom and democracy serve the purpose of creating a discourse of cultural affiliation with Denmark and the West beyond the legal status of citizenship. He is introduced as Danish-Bahraini, or pure and simple, as Danish. Several media report that it was the Danish society that taught Al-Khawaja about human rights (Politiken 2012a; Jørgenssen 2012a). The newspaper Politiken even awards him a “Freedom Prize” (Politiken 2012b). Although the same paper in an editorial calls his decision to end his hunger strike ”wise” (Ibid), his method of resistance is never condemned nearly as strongly as the asylum seekers’. For Al-Khawaja, hunger striking is presented as both legitimate and potentially efficient. The premise is obviously that his hunger strike ought to work, when Politiken writes: “not even when Al-Khawaja began a hunger strike in January, the 13 prisoners were released.” (Politiken 2012c).

“Calling a hunger strike useless is rendering it useless.”

Compared to this, one of the most characteristic and recurrent features of the media coverage of the asylum hunger strike is assertions of its uselessness. The words useless, pointless, and purposeless form a common thread throughout the media discourse. As mentioned, a hunger strike is a performative form of resistance depending on its representation. When media in editorials and op-eds call a hunger strike useless, or quote politicians and other sources for the same point of view, it is a speech act. Calling a hunger strike useless is rendering it useless.

The religious factor

Despite the relative broad support, Al-Khawaja enjoys in the media, the media representation of him and his hunger strike still oscillates on an axis between legitimate and illegitimate. This axis coincides with an axis between “Danish”/“pro-democratic” and “un-Danish”/“Muslim” /“Islamist”. Thus, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in an editorial asks: “Martyr for democracy or for Islam?” (Willum 2012).

Also in the coverage of the asylum hunger strike, religion is an issue to an astounding degree. This is partly due to the Iranian hunger strikers’ choice of battle field: The church in Copenhagen. Moreover, some of the hunger strikers are reportedly Christian, and their degree of Christianness function as a more or less legitimizing factor of their hunger strike.

But also hunger striking as a phenomenon as such undergoes religious-philosophical analysis, such as when hunger striking is called “unchristian” (Heick 2012). In an editorial, the newspaper Berlingske elaborates: “Instead of placing the responsibility for their future with the church and the Danish public, the asylum seekers must take responsibility themselves. That is actually also one of the most important Christian messages.” (Berlingske 2012).

Kristeligt Dagblad, a newspaper with a Christian, ethical, and humanist profile, warns that “It is a more religiously mixed bunch of hunger striking Iranians who have moved inside Stefanskirken [the church] at Nørrebro, than it appeared in the media coverage to begin with. Unlike what several media, including Kristeligt Dagblad, so far have reported, only a minority of the asylum seekers are Christian.” (Dale & Hagemeister 2012).

The cultural and religious distance created by the hunger strikers’s disappointingly low degree of Christanness is another factor in the discursive distribution of Danishness – which is also the distribution of rights, legitimacy, and life.

“Asylum seekers don’t have status as political agents, and they don’t enjoy democratic rights. The distinction between those who are political beings or citizens, and those who are not, those who are granted political agency and those who are not, is essential to the hunger striking discourse.”

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Playing the game of democracy

The most often repeated argument against the asylum hunger strikes is that this form of expression doesn’t belong in a democracy such as the Danish society. One of many examples is an editorial in Kristeligt Dagblad: “A hunger strike might make sense in dictatorships, where parliamentary solutions cannot be sought. On the other hand, it is hard to justify such means of pressure in a democracy that offers the injured party other ways of seeking their right.” (Madsen 2012).

This argument disregards the fact that the migrants are not fully included in the state they are subject to. Asylum seekers don’t have status as political agents, and they don’t enjoy democratic rights. The distinction between those who are political beings or citizens, and those who are not, those who are granted political agency and those who are not, is essential to the hunger striking discourse.

The Danish citizen Al-Khawaja is often referred to with the epithet “political prisoner” and is thereby already granted political agency. Several spokespeople of the asylum hunger strikes attempt to frame their fight as resembling the exceptional Al-Khawaja’s – the fight against an undemocratic, non-Western society. Thus, Dariush Mokhtari from the Iranian group: “The Danish government denounced Bahrain. Why won’t they denounce Iran, when we demonstrate?” (Heick 2012).

Others appeal to the narrative about the Danish state as democratic: “We thought that life in a democratic country would bring us new hope and new life” (Hussing 2012).

But perhaps more interesting than these attempts to speak the language of the hegemonic discourse – and we shouldn’t forget that here, we only have access to these statements filtered through the hegemonic discourse of the media– is the mere insistent presence of the protesting migrants. Some of them protest in the camps, while 11 Iranians make themselves visible by taking their fight to the center of Copenhagen. Here, they are in sequence thrown out of their refuges: First the church and later, almost too ironically symbolic to be true, a community center called The Democracy House. When the 11 hunger strikers obtrusively move their struggle to the Danish power centre by camping in front of the parliament, it is perhaps not as much in order to appeal to these parliamentary democratic channels, as it is to point to the inadequacy of this system. This is strongly performative, even theatrical, if not outright tragic: A play displaying the so-called democracy as a mere society of the spectacle.

Interestingly, some of the most historically acclaimed hunger strikes have also been fights for the expansion of the political sphere, and for the recognition as political agents. Such as when the Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands – along with Gandhi perhaps the most iconic hunger striker of the 20th century – and his comrades demanded (among other things)to be recognized as political prisoners rather than criminals (Ellmann 1993:19). Or the suffragettes who brought the hunger strikes onto the political stage of the 20th century in the first place (Ellmann 1993:12). It is worth noting that not only did female-coded bodies introduce the hunger strike a modern form of political protest; they also did so in a struggle to be recognized as agents in the (parliamentary) political arena (by obtaining the right to vote). Thus, the hunger strike was deployed as a tool for broadening the field of what is being recognized as legitimate, political acts and agents. Therefore, the modern hunger strike can be said to inherently problematize the borders between the political and the personal sphere, the public and the private sphere – borders that are deeply gendered.

“We thought that life in a democratic country would bring us new hope and new life” (Hussing 2012).

Starving as a necropolitical mode of resistance

The power of the hunger strike, Patrick Anderson suggests in his analysis of the great hunger strike among prisoners in Turkey in the early 2000’s, consists of its challenge of the state monopoly on violence. The hunger striker makes hirself the subject of the violence that s/he is already the object of. The violence might not change degree or even character, but its agent is displaced from the state to the hunger striker (Anderson 2004:830). This is unacceptable for the sovereign state whose power is based on its monopoly on violence.

Perhaps this makes it clearer why Al-Khawaja and the migrants in Denmark chose to deliberately speed up their inevitable slow deaths. These hunger strikes are performances staged in necropolitical spaces where subjects no longer are in power of their own lives and therefore only can master their own deaths. This is the dangerous power of the hunger strike – to challenge the privilege of the sovereign to control its subjects’ deaths. This is what makes hunger strikes so provocative: Any act of violence committed by any other actor than the state, even against oneself, is traditionally condemned as illegitimate by the hegemonic, Western discourse (here represented by the Danish media). Even though the notion of self-sacrifice hardly can be said to be foreign to Western culture (look at Jesus or any Hollywood war epic), martyrdom must take a very specific, institutionalized form. The mere word “martyrdom” has become an explosive term in contemporary, Western discourse, associated with the un-Western, or outright anti-Western, and clandestine.

Heroes or victims: Gendering the hunger striker

However, a specific kind of martyr is widely accepted and omnipresent in the hegemonic Western discourse, as Laleh Khalili points out (in her analysis of Palestinian resistance):“martyrdom is allowed only through venues authorized by the state – such as the military in wars waged by the state” (Khalili 2007:23). Heroes must be domesticated in states in order for their struggle to be recognized as legitimate (Khalili 2007:21). As argued earlier, the media discourse appropriates Al-Khawaja as an appropriate hero for the Danish state, risking his life for Danish/Western values such as freedom and democracy.

Khalili operates with a distinction between heroic and a tragic discourses of resistance, the former pivoting around an active, masculine hero figure; the latter around a passive, feminine, or childish victim figure (Khalili 2007:37). The hunger striker is often conceptualized as a heroic figure and thus stereotypically masculine. Nevertheless, it is difficult to ignore the deep and distinctively feminine undertones of passivity, anorexia, hysteria, and diet fads resounding by the hunger strike.

The heroic discourse is definitely deployed in the media representation of Al-Khawaja, such as when he is celebrated for his bravery, and for not giving up his struggle (Herschend 2012). When the coverage of Al-Khawaja’s case also contains strong traits of the victim discourse, it is mainly by virtue of the embedded human rights narrative. As Khalili documents, the rise of the globally appealing victim narrative coincides with the rise of the universal human rights discourse (Khalili 2007:103). When Al-Khawaja’s sufferings are described in detail:”Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was isolated in a small cell without fresh air. Every night he was beaten up by masked guards who also forced a poker up his anus. Moreover, he could hardly eat or talk, because his jaw was broken” (Jørgenssen 2012a), he becomes a distinctively feminine spectacle, a starving, speechless torture victim, complete with the ultimate feminization: The rape.

If Al-Khawaja is both hero and victim, the migrant hunger strikers in Denmark, in a way, are neither. Generally they are portrayed in accordance with a victim discourse, which contains elements of legitimization, but which mainly serves the purpose of delegitimizing and depoliticizing their struggle. Often, the migrant hunger strikers are represented as less than victims, even deprived of the legitimacy of the victim.
The feminizing victimization serves as a strategy of delegitimization similar to the already mentioned strategies of infantilization and, above all, of racialization, or racism, in the broad, structural sense of distributing degrees of life.

Making the violence visible

The hunger strike does not only represent, but also reverse the relations of violence the sovereign is founded on, when it takes the weapon of death from the sovereign’s hand.

The hunger strikers perform and make visible the structural violence of necropolitical (that is, at once sovereign and biopolitical) systems such as totalitarian states and deportation regimes rather than attempt to attain political liberties through the rights of the citizen.
Every individual, hunger striking, dying or dead body, as real and material as it is, represents something outside of itself, a community as a whole. This is necropolitical resistance. And solidarity. As when Ramin Molavi, spokesperson for the 11 Iranians in Copenhagen, responds to the journalist’s leading question about whether he thinks hunger striking has benefitted his asylum case legally: ”I don’t think about my own case, I think about the collective responsibility.” (Brobjerg 2012). Following this line of thought, it is possible to consider the hunger strike in more than pure negative terms of desperation, self-harm, and purposelessness bordering on insanity. Hunger strikes might succeed in challenging the system, while immediately losing struggles for particular rights within that system. The hunger strike does not only represent, but also reverse the relations of violence the sovereign is founded on, when it takes the weapon of death from the sovereign’s hand.

Thus, it is worth noting that while the Danish media, in keeping with the general “uselessness discourse”, are quick to deem the asylum hunger strike a failure (“Hungerstrike is over: Politicians did not yield”(Ibid), as a headline smugly sounds), some of the Syrian-Kurdish hunger strike release a statement focusing on their achievement: “We have made our voices known and shown our suffering to the Danish and European public; while aware of the fact that this is not an end in itself, but a means of attaining the recognition and freedom, we demand.” (Jørgenssen 2012b).

Factbox: Two hunger strikes

The wave of asylum hunger strikes began around 7th of May 2012 in Sigerslev Asylum Camp, when approximately 20 rejected Syrian-Kurdish asylum seekers initiated a hunger strike demanding the reopening of their cases. The following weeks Syrian Kurds in the camps of Brovst, Jelling, Holmegaard and Hanstholm, and a group of Iranians in Sandholm followed suit. By the 24th of May more than 80 asylum seekers were hunger striking all over the country. On the 23d, 11 migrants from Iran began a hunger strike in Stefanskirken in Copenhagen. The group was forced to leave the church on the 29th of May. The protests continued in the municipal facility ‘The Democracy House’, from where they were kicked out a few days later. After this they continued their hunger strike in front of the parliament.

Meanwhile, the different hunger strikes ended, and around the 12th of June, the asylum hunger strikes were over.

Parallel, the hunger strike of the prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, holding Danish citizenship, took up space in the media. Al-Khawaja had been imprisoned in Bahrain since June 2011 for arranging pro-democracy protest as a part of the so-called Arab Spring. In February 2012, he began a hunger strike demanding his release. Al-Khawaja, who is one of the internationally acknowledged heroes of the Arab Spring, is still in prison.

Notes:

1. I use the terms ”migrants” and ”asylum seekers” interchangeably about the hunger strikers from the asy-lum camps in Denmark. I don’t go into their reasons for migrating, and I don’t specify their legal status, such as whether they have already been denied asylum, or whether they are still awaiting their verdict.
2. The relationship between Fouault’s concepts biopower and biopolitics is not clear and varies through his oeuvre, so I use the terms more or less interchangeably. For something remsembling a definition of biopol-itics, see Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics from his Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-79
3. One of the main arguments in Agamben’s The State of Exception (2005).
4. This outdated definition of racism is still astoundingly prevalent. According to this narrow understanding of racism, say, Islamophobia, or anti-Semitism, are not examples of racism, because they target religion or culture, and not explicitly “race”, which in this context often is defined as something purely “biological”. The logic is, that while it might be deplorable to hate and discriminate on the background of “biological”, “racial” factors that people can’t change, such as skin colour, there is nothing morally reprehensible about hating and discriminating people on the background of culture or religion, since there is no good excuse for not assimilating and changing one’s culture or religion.

 

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Larsen, JB 2012c, ’Sultestrejkende iraner: Jeg er bange for at blive henrettet’, Politiken, 23 May, viewed 2 February 2013, http://politiken.dk/indland/ECE1634530/sultestrejkende-iraner-jeg-er-bange-for-at-blive-henrettet/

Larsen, JB 2012d, ’Politikere opfordrer til at droppe ”formålsløs” sultestrejke’, Århus Stiftstidende, 24 May, viewed 11 February 2013, Infomedia database.

Lindqvist, A 2012,’ Bedsteforældre for asyl: Hold så op med at sultestrejke’, Politiken, 23 May, viewed 31 January 2013, http://politiken.dk/indland/ECE1634261/bedsteforaeldre-for-asyl-hold-saa-op-med-at-sultestrejke/

Madsen, AE 2012,’Sultestrejke giver andre skylden’, Kristeligt Dagblad, 1 June, viewed 10 February 2013, http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/464486:Leder–Sultestrejke-giver-andre-skylden
Mbembe, A 2003, ‘Necropolitics’, Public Culture, vol.15(1), no.1, pp.11–40, Duke University Press.

Nielsen, G 2012, ’’Det er en langsom død’’, Berlingske, 29 May, viewed 31 January 2013, http://www.b.dk/nationalt/det-er-en-langsom-doed

Politiken 2012a: ’Portræt: Ikke til at kue’, 10 April, viewed 3 February 2013, Infomedia database .

Politiken 2012b: ’Pris til Al-Khawaja’ 29 October, viewed 3 February 2013, Infomedia database.

Politiken 2012c: ’Al-Khawaja for retten i Bahrain’, 1 December, viewed 10 February 2013, Infomedia database.

Ritzau 2012:’Asylansøger i kirke: Jeg frygter dødsstraf’ 24 May, viewed 10 Fecurary 2013, Infomedia database.
Willum, G 2012, ’Martyr for demokratiet eller for islam?’, Jyllands-Posten 11 April, viewed 31 January 2013, http://www.jyllands-posten.dk/protected/premium/international/article2746127.ece

The bibliography only includes newspaper articles that are directly quoted in the text. The analysis is based on approximately 150 news articles, editorials, and op-eds from a wide variety of Danish, written media.