Hunger strikers bounce back

Hunger strikers bounce back
June 19th, 2006  

Topic: Hunger strikers bounce back

Hunger strikers bounce back
Source: Aftenposten English Web Desk

Oslo police moved in and finally removed the group of hunger striking Afghans protesting their lack of asylum in Norway.

Police moved in around 5 a.m., and characterized the mood as "good-humored" as they began to carry away the exhausted protestors.

Most of the hunger strikers were driven away in three large buses, and just before 8 a.m. 15 ambulances were ready to help in downtown Oslo.

"No one is under arrest. The hunger strikers were driven away to the emergency ward for check-ups. Five or six are be examined more closely. It all looks to be going well," said police chief of staff Johan Fredriksen at around 7 a.m.

Spokesman for the Afghans, Zahir Athari, had a different version, saying that several demonstrators had been pulled to the ground as police came in, dismantled the makeshift camp and took the hunger strikers away.

But after a short period of time many of the Afghan protestors began to return to the area around Oslo's central cathedral, where they were met with applause and jubilation from sympathizers.

"We have absolutely no wish to use force. We want to behave in a dignified manner. We also have no intention of arresting anyone," Fredriksen told news agency NTB. Fredriksen emphasized that their watch had no connection with whatever action the police immigration unit might eventually take.

The roughly 120 Afghan asylum seekers have been hunger striking for 22 days, and about 100 of them have been staying in a tent just outside Oslo Cathedral. Between 50-100 activists from various organizations were gathered by the tents in solidarity with the protest, chanting with Afghans, "Let the tent be, Let the tent be".

At around 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning police began taking various tents down. When the Afghans returned later, they and demonstrators linked themselves together on the ground while a large police force looked on.

Demonstrators were shouting chants and holding formation near the cathedral on Friday morning.

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