Migrants Sew Their Mouths Shut In Protest

Migrants stuck at the border of Macedonia protest a new policy that allows only Syrians, Afghans and Iraqi migrants into the Balkan countries

Nov 23, 2015 at 4:35 PM ET

At least six men reportedly from Iran sewed their mouths shut and went on a self-imposed hunger strike Monday on the border of Greece and Macedonia, in protest at not being allowed to pass through the border to Balkan countries and on to western Europe. The men stripped down and wrote on their chests phrases including: “just freedom” and “shoot us or save us please.”

Hundreds of migrants were stuck at the Greek-Macedonian border in the Macedonian town of Idomeni for days after Balkan countries said they would only admit people fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The tightened restrictions come in reaction to fears that terrorists have infiltrated the flow of refugees into Europe after forged Syrian documents were found at the scene of one of the series of deadly attacks that shook Paris on November 13.

Some of the men appeared to be part of Iran’s ethnic Kurdish minority, who the U.S. State Department says has been persecuted by government authorities in Iran. Migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Morocco were also denied entry to Balkan countries and joined the protests, the BBC reported. One told Reuters he would be hanged if he returned to Iran.

Last week, Slovenia said it would only admit refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia followed suit. Refugees from other countries were automatically considered “economic refugees” and not admitted. The number of refugees allowed into Macedonia Sunday was 2,900, down from 6,000 the day before that, local police said.