By Constantinos Psillides
Tatiana Chripkova, a Slovak national, went on a hunger strike on Tuesday demanding that her husband, Mahamoudou Congo, a Burkina Faso national, is released so they can move to England.
The Slovak national is staging her hunger strike outside the Menoyia detention centre, where her husband is held awaiting deportation to his country of origin.
The two got married on November 3, 2011.
According to migrant support group KISA, Chripkova has been working in Cyprus for the past seven years and has recently found employment in the UK, where she said she is planning to move with her husband. While away on work, according to KISA, the Famagusta branch of the police immigration office declared their marriage was one of convenience and he was immediately arrested and placed at the Menoyia centre.
Congo was previously given a residency permit (as a family member of an EU citizen) that expires on 2017. The permit has since been revoked.
Chripkova returned to Cyprus once she was notified about her husband’s arrest and has filed a petition for him to be released but received no answer.
She blasted the authorities saying that her husband missed his appointment at the British High Commission offices in Cyprus, for an interview regarding his petition to enter the UK and be reunited with his wife.
The Cyprus Mail contacted Chripkova who said she is not leaving the detention centre, even if it kills her. “We have a real marriage. I love my husband and we just want to leave for the UK to work. I am not leaving here. I don’t care what happens,” said Chripkova.
According to KISA, both Congo and Chripkova have been working legally in Cyprus for two years.
KISA criticized immigration saying that there was no clear process for deciding what constitutes a marriage of convenience. “They declare marriages to be false, without sufficient evidence and deport people merely on suspicion,” said KISA.
In related news, the four hunger strikers who were camped outside the interior ministry rejected comments by Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos that there was not much he could do regarding their case.
Two of the Iranians, who have been to Cyprus for ten years, were on a hunger strike for 54 days asking that they be given residency or citizenship to leave Cyprus. They abandoned the strike on Saturday, after assurances that their case would be promptly processed.
“We have been promised that our plea would be heard. We have been given assurances by the minister’s office”, said one of the strikers, Muhammad Altaf, to the Cyprus Mail. “If they back down on their promise we will go on strike again. We want what was promised,” said Altaf.
The four Iranians are political refugees, having fled their countries out of fear for their lives and that of their family members.