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Iranian asylum-seekers sew up mouths in Germany

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Four Iranian asylum-seekers on a hunger strike in Germany have sewn up their mouths in protest at their conditions, one of the organizers of the demonstration told AFP on Thursday.

“They are only drinking through a straw,” said Soheil Hatamikia, adding they were sleeping in a tent in the central square of the southeastern German town of Wuerzburg.

Ten Iranian asylum-seekers in total have participated in the protest since March. They say they are persecuted in their own country but are unhappy at the conditions in the German state of Bavaria.

“The German government should know it cannot stop our protest by means of silence and passiveness,” said the group on a blog established to support the protest.

“If the government does not respond positively to our demands and does not make changes to the inhumane laws on asylum-seekers, then it will find that other asylum-seekers will join our action and sew up their lips,” the group added.

Five of the protesters have already received political asylum.

The federal office for migration and refugees was not available for comment due to a public holiday Thursday in several German states.

The protesters criticize regulations obliging asylum-seekers to stay in common lodgings and want a law making it necessary for them to have a fixed abode abolished.

They also want the right to work while waiting for their application to be processed.

In 2011, more than 53,300 people demanded asylum in Germany, around half of claimants 10 years ago.

Since the beginning of 2012, the countries of origin with most asylum-seekers have been Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia and Iran.