By Constantinos Psillides
AROUND 20-25 men detained at Menoyia Detention Centre went on a hunger strike on Monday, in protest over their prolonged detention.
“Some of us have been here for three months, some for six and there are even guys who are here for a year and a half,” one of the hunger strikers told the Cyprus Mail, adding that they will not back down until the interior ministry addresses their cases.
“We want answers. We want answers about what is going on here,” he said. The hungers strikers are housed at the B-Wing in Menoyia. No inmates from other wings have joined the protest.
Almost all hunger strikers come from non-EU countries, with the exception of two Greek nationals. One of the Greek nationals has been imprisoned for two years for drug use. He claims that has been on the island for over 10 years.
As per standard practice, all immigrants – EU citizens or otherwise – are deported following their involvement in a criminal offence.
The hunger strikers have notified the office of Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou and also sent a letter addressing Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos.
Neither the police nor the interior ministry has issued a statement regarding the hunger strike.
Protests over prolonged detainment at Menoyia are not new. In August a group of detainees climbed at the roof of the detention centre and threatened to kill themselves if their situation wasn’t resolved.
In June a Bulgarian national slit his wrists to draw attention that he had been detained for over six months with no end in sight, while earlier this year another man tried to hang himself his cell.
The interior ministry has come under heavy criticism for Menoyia, a centre that was supposed to house individuals pending their immediate deportation. Instead, it has ended up functioning as an unofficial prison for immigrants, as it is not uncommon for a detainee to stay there for over a year.