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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Protest as refugee sews eyes up
Abas Amini
Abas Amini says he faces execution if he is returned to Iran
Protesters have gathered in support of an Iranian asylum-seeker who has sewn up his eyes, ears and mouth in protest at his treatment by the Home Office.

Abas Amini, 33, is unable to eat or drink water because his mouth is stitched up, and doctors say he could die within days.

His eyelids have reportedly become infected but he is refusing to take medication, and has told friends he is prepared to die to make his point.

Mr Amini was granted asylum two months ago, but his protest was triggered by a Home Office decision this week to appeal.

The peaceful demonstration outside his Nottingham house attracted about 100 protesters.

Among them was Behzad Amini, who is no relation, who said his namesake was still mentally alert despite not eating or drinking for more than seven days, but was now suffering pains in his ears and head.

"Abbas wasn't okay earlier... he was very unhappy.

"But he spoke to his brother in Iran and he's a bit better.

"We have still had no word from the Home Office. We are asking him to stop this but he doesn't want to give up.

"The people here today want to put pressure on the Home Office but at the same time, they don't want Abbas to die. He's a great man, a brave man."

Mr Amini, who has a wife and three-year-old son in Iran, says he will be executed for his political past if he is sent back there.

He escaped jail in Iran and headed for Britain two years ago, where he applied for asylum. His application was backed by a medical report supporting his torture claims.

I don't think it would be legal under the mental health act to force feed him
Dr Chris Udenze

But the asylum process has been difficult for Mr Amini. After five adjournments, an immigration tribunal said he could stay, but the Home Office disagreed and decided to appeal.

Mr Amini says he will stop his protest if the government withdraws its appeal.

Mr Amini told BBC News through an interpreter: "I spent many years in prison being tortured; I was forced to flee here.

"Shouldn't a human being have a square foot of earth to live on, to live in peace?"

'Deeply regrettable'

Dr Chris Udenze of Nottingham, who is treating the hunger striker, said Mr Amini was depressed because of his situation, but was of sound mind.

"I don't think it would be legal under the mental health act to force feed him. We have to respect his rights to make a decision like this for himself."

A Home Office spokesman said Mr Amini's actions were "deeply regrettable".

It is believed the protest is the first of its kind in the UK, although some asylum seekers in detention centres have gone on hunger strike in protest at their treatment.

Last year, asylum seekers at an Australian detention centre sewed their lips together in protest against the conditions.

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