Theater of Cruelty

More and more suicides

Desperate asylum seekers in Denmark refuse to take birth – or end their own lives.


June 19, Iranian toddler father Majid Samavi chose to commit suicide.

Life as an asylum seeker at the Hanstholm Asylum Center in Denmark was too tough.

The number of suicide attempts at Danish asylum centers has increased considerably, reports the Danish Red Cross, which runs most of the centers. At least 38 asylum seekers have committed suicide in Denmark in recent years. The number of suicide attempts is far higher. From 2002 until 19 June this year, 196 people have tried to take their own lives at the Red Cross' asylum centers. They have tried a total of 231 times, but only two have succeeded. By mid-June, more suicide attempts had already been registered in 2006 than in the whole of 2005.

Majid Samavi finally rejected his asylum application on Friday, June 16, and was told to return to Iran. On the same day he must have tried for the first time to take his life. He succeeded in other attempts.

The incident has triggered a new asylum debate in Denmark. Five Iranian asylum seekers, who are in the same situation as Samavi were, hunger strikes in front of the Folketing in Copenhagen. The hunger strike has been going on since 19 June.

- Two or three people go on hunger strike every year. Most are short-lived, but this has lasted for over 14 days, says Isabel Fluxá Rosado, information officer at the Danish Red Cross' asylum department.

Jørgen Chemnitz, head of the asylum department, tells the newspaper Politiken that suicide attempts are often a signal of powerlessness, and a cry for help, rather than a desire to end life.

The Danish government is accused by the opposition of being dictated by the anti-immigration hostile Danish People's Party in immigration and asylum policy.

- The Danish government is apparently indifferent to what is happening to the asylum seekers. What is happening is unfair, and does not resemble Denmark. But this is how the development has been with the bourgeois government, says Agnes K. Horvath, who is part of the support group around the hunger strikers and represents the party Unity List.

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