When Attrition Gives Way to Desperation: Iranian Protestors Sew Lips Shut in Protest

Protests are routinely viewed as acts of attrition. Yet, at rare moments in human history, society is given a glimpse into true suffering byway of the act of the protest itself. We are exposed to the root, the cause, and true spirit of a certain breed of protest, one in which the aim is not attrition, but exposure, exposure to a sense of desperation — a sense of desperation born of injustice.

Migrants fleeing Iran have begun to take extreme measures by sewing their lips together and going on hunger strikes in protest of the precarious international situation in which they’ve been placed. Stuck at the border between Greece and Macedonia, hundreds of asylum seekers are now confined as Macedonia has limited passage to only those fleeing what they consider “conflict”.

According to the UN, around 1,000 people are stranded on the border from Greece into Macedonia. (Photo: Oscar Webb)

These Iranians have taken to protesting after being denied entry into Macedonia from Greece due to a new system by which these countries enable migrant movement. This system put in place by several European nations blocks the passage of “economic migrants”.

A migrant protests as he waits with others to cross the border from Greece. (Reuters: Ognen Teofilovski)

About six men, some of whom appear to be of Iran’s Kurdish minority, sewed their mouths shut and scrawled sentiments such as “Just freedom” on their foreheads and chests, and sat down on railway tracks in front of riot police.

Since the Paris Attacks on November 13th, hundreds of migrants have been protesting Europe’s heightened border controls which have left those migrants deemed “economic migrants” essentially unable to seek refuge.

Stranded Iranian migrant Hamid, 34, an electrical engineer from the Iranian town of Sanandij.(Reuters_Yannis Behrakis)

The straights are dire for these migrants who’re now unable to continue their journey. Vice reporter Oscar Webb spoke to an Iranian migrant seeking asylum named Milad: “We will stay here,” Milad told Webb, “we will die here if necessary”.


Originally published at gloveo.com on November 28, 2015.