Hunger strike – ’till death or deportation’

Hunger strike – ’till death or deportation’


Written by: IRR News Team

The organisation Cageprisoners is calling for urgent action for a stateless Palestinian refugee, Mahmoud Abu Rideh, who is in a critical condition in a London hospital after being on hunger strike for over thirty days.

Mahmoud, one of the fifteen or so terror suspects in the UK, subjected to virtual house arrest under a control order has requested to leave the UK and be deported to Syria, or for his control order to be lifted.

He came to the UK and claimed asylum after being tortured in Israeli prisons. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in November 1998. His family, including his six children, are British citizens. Mahmoud has never been questioned by the authorities, charged with any offence, nor have his solicitors been shown any evidence of why he is considered a security risk.

Mahmoud endured three and a half years in prisons and psychiatric hospitals and was then subjected to a control order restricting all aspects of his and his family’s life for a further three years.

Death or humiliation?

Since being held under a control order his physical and mental health has further deteriorated. Psychiatrists’ reports over seven years have shown him to have become deeply paranoid, isolated and depressed. Following a recent suicide attempt he was hospitalised. He has been refusing food for over 31 days, and for much of the time, even ice cubes or water. Wheelchair-bound, he is now coughing and excreting blood.

According to Cageprisoners: ‘Appeals from his family, friends, and religious authorities can no longer reach him. Preferring death to such humiliation, he is requesting that he be allowed to leave the UK for Syria or for his control order to be removed. If his Control Order can be lifted as suddenly, and without explanation, as the one of Detainee ”E” was last week, his life would be saved.’

See the links below for how you can take action for Mahmoud Abu Rideh.

Catalogue of detention and containment
  • December 2001 – Arrested at his London home and taken to Belmarsh maximum secure prison as a ‘threat to national security’.
  • July 2002 – Transferred to Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital.
  • October 2003 – The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) upholds his detention.
  • October 2004 – Psychiatrists find that indefinite detention is directly linked to a deterioration in his mental health.
  • March 2005 – Released following a House of Lords ruling. But then subjected to a control order under which he has to report by telephone three times every 24 hours, day and night, daily reporting in person to a police station, electronic tagging, a 12-hour daily curfew, meetings outside the house and visits to anyone in the house prohibited except of persons cleared by the Home Office.
  • May 2005 – Spends a week in Brixton prison after handing himself at a police station saying he does not want to be tagged anymore. At Brixton he twice tries to kill himself. He is then remanded back into custody, despite concerns about his health.
  • January 2007 – At a High Court appeal against the control order he threatens to self-harm during the proceedings which are then adjourned.
  • April 2007 – A judge quashes the control order on the grounds that it has deprived him of his liberty. The Home Secretary, John Reid, announces an appeal and a new control order.

Related links

Read the urgent appeal from Cageprisoners

Sign the petition for Mahmoud Abu Rideh

Read a letter to the GuardianMahmoud Abu Rideh: Driven beyond despair by control order

IRR News story: Families speak out on control orders

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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