London

Iranian men sew up lips in protest at failed asylum bid

Two Iranian men have gone on hunger strike and sewn up their mouths in protest at being denied UK asylum.

Keyvan Bahari, 32, and Mahyr Meyari said they set up camp outside the immigration centre in Croydon, south London, 23 days ago.

They claim their lives are in danger if they are sent back to Iran because they supported the pro-democracy movement.

The Home Office said they have been dealt with fairly and must leave.

Both men say they were beaten and imprisoned after taking part in the Iranian pro-democracy movement which swept the country in 2009 after the disputed elections.

'Abused and beaten'

The men say they were smuggled from Iran via Turkey in a lorry which dropped them off on a motorway, possibly near Cambridge.

Government figures show that last year there were 1,870 applications for asylum from Iranian nationals and of those, 1,645 were refused.

Claiming their cases had not been processed fairly, Mr Bahari said: "Despite the promise of American and European countries who said they would support us, we came here and now there's no support.

"We don't mind dying for our goal, we just want to have our voice heard by the British government."

Mr Mayari said: "I was in the uprising and arrested for almost a week and abused and beaten. It was awful, I can't go back.

"I was so disappointed with the British system that I stitched together my mouth to show my anger and desperation."

Hugh Ind, from the UK Border Agency, said: "It is safe for people to return to countries where we have made our decision, where the courts have made their decision.

"If the independent courts have decided you have no basis of stay here, we need to respect that decision and so do the individuals concerned."

The Border Agency said the men do have a right to ask for a judicial review.

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