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Saturday, July 10, 2004

Hunger-striker returns to cell after hospital visit

Staff writer

IBARAKI, Osaka Pref. -- A 37-year-old Iranian who has been held at the West Japan Immigration Center here since February 2003 and has been on a hunger strike for over a month, was briefly hospitalized Friday, according to his supporters.

He was taken back to the center by late afternoon, local human rights activists told The Japan Times. Center officials would not comment on Ahmadian's condition, citing privacy reasons.

His supporters asked The Japan Times to withhold the man's name, citing the risk that be could face persecution back home.

The Iranian man originally came to Japan in 1993 from Iran, where he said he had been jailed over his political activities.

He overstayed his visa and worked in Japan for a nearly a decade before being caught and placed in detention.

Although he applied to the Justice Ministry in the hope of receiving refugee status, his request was refused and the case is now being appealed.

Ahmadian began his hunger strike in early June, joining a group of Vietnamese detainees who went on a hunger strike to protest their detention and the poor conditions within the West Japan center.

Though the Vietnamese ended their hunger strike less than two weeks later, he has continued to fast.

On Friday, after Osaka-based human rights groups petitioned the center for his provisional release, he was taken to an area hospital, according to the activists.

"We were extremely worried about his condition and afraid that he is near death and would not survive the weekend," said Astuko Mastuurade Vizcardo, who represents the Sinapis Social Action Center Archdiocese of Osaka.

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The Japan Times

Article 12 of 14 in National news

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