Immigrants begin hunger strike after occupying university in Athens
Jan 25, 2011, 7:01 GMT
Athens - More than 250 North African immigrants seeking political asylum in Greece began a hunger strike on Tuesday after occupying a university campus in central Athens.
The immigrants, who have been employed in menial jobs on the southern Mediterranean island of Crete, arrived at the port of Pireaus in the early hours on Sunday and then occupied the first floor of the Law Faculty in central Athens on Monday.
Another 50 immigrants headed to the northern port city of Thessaloniki to carry out a similar protest there.
The dean of the Law Faculty closed the central Athens building until at least Friday.
In a separate incident, seven Afghan refugees sewed their mouths shut to protest at the slow pace with which their asylum applications were being processed by the Greek authorities.
They were following the example of a group of Iranians who managed to secure refugee status after adopting the same tactic.
Last week, the European Court of Human Rights fined Greece and Belgium for their mistreatment of an Afghan refugee who claimed to have suffered abuse in both countries.
Greece has been repeatedly criticized for being one of the European Union's countries that grants the smallest number of asylums.
Thousands of refugees trying to make their way into Europe have ended up being stranded in Greece, as the country struggles to cope with a financial crisis and a huge backlog of asylum applications.
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