Hunger strike of CIE inmates in Barcelona: will the Government reverse its anti-immigrant policies?

Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

When a few days ago political prisoner Orlando Zapata died in a Cuban jail following 85 days of hunger strike, the Spanish authorities, as well as politicians across the EU, were full of indignation. See, for example, an article in the Spanish daily “El Pais”: El gobierno español “deplora profundamente” la muerte de Zapata. The EU Parliament has also decided to take this opportunity to condemn the Cuban regime.

Last month, inmates of a Centro de Internamiento de Estranjeros (CIE) in Barcelona, one of the Spanish holding centres for undocumented migrants, started a hunger strike to protest inhuman conditions of their detention. Detentions of foreigners have been repeatedly characterised by human rights advocates as arbitrary, abusive, and outright racist. (CIDH ProIgual posted a blog on the issue of deplorable conditions in CIEs in Spain earlier.)

However, no voices have been heard from the Spanish Government, condemning (their own) anti-immigrant policies and blatant violations of human rights of people whose sole crime is lacking correct papers. Nor has there been any declaration from the EU. Undoubtedly, it is much easier to call for the defense of human rights in Cuba, than to guarantee them in their own backyard.

What would it take the Spanish Government to turn a seeing eye and a hearing ear to the plight of the foreign detainees? Unfortunately for the CIE inmates, they do not have 85 days for hunger strikes, since the  authorities want them out of the country in as short a time as logistically possible, normally within 20-40 days. Does someone have to die of abuse, or take his or her own life because of the unbearable conditions in detention, for the authorities to reconsider their inhumane anti-immigration policies?

To follow on this issue, please visit the website of the CIDH ProIgual.