Zınar Bozkurt, a Kurd who has lived in Sweden for eight years, started a hunger strike after he was taken into custody by Swedish Security Service pending deportation to Turkey, reported Sverigesradio.
Bozkurt was working with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) while he still lived in Turkey. During that time, a number of his friends from the party were imprisoned. He himself migrated to Sweden where he applied for asylum in 2016, received residence and work permits and settled, to live and work there for eight years.
On 19 August, the Kurdish refugee was detained by the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) because the authorities had decided that he was not in need of protection. The young man started a hunger strike, demanding to be allowed to remain in Sweden.
Some news agencies reported this development as being in reponse to the process Sweden went through in its application for NATO membership. However, Sverigesradio reported that such detentions had started before Sweden’s NATO membership process quopting lawyer Miran Kakaee.
Sverigesradio also reported that SÄPO has contacted and spoken with many Kurds in Sweden, to make evaluations as to whether or not they pose a danger to Swedish security.
Bozkurt’s files at the Immigration Department also contain such an evaluation, stating that Bozkurt is a danger to the security of Sweden. In the decision rejecting his asylum claim, the Immigration Office stated that he was not in need of protection and that his residence permit in Sweden should be cancelled.
Beşir Kavak from Sverigesradio said Bozkurt started his hunger strike after these decisions were made and that since then has taken only water with sugar.
In response to the hunger strike, activists who believe that Bozkurt has been subjected to torture held a protest against his detention and called for the authorities to release him.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had initially threatened to veto Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, but later withdrew the veto, in return for the two Nordic countries tightening anti-terrorism legislation and extraditing political refugees.