Who we are
We, a group of political refugees from Russia who are forced to stay on the island of Guam, are announcing the imminent start of a hunger strike in support of our appeals, which still remain unheard.
For a better understanding of the problem we have faced, please watch the video on YouTube
For various reasons, we fled persecution in Russia, which today ranks 175 out of 210 in the Freedom in the World 2020 (Freedom House) ranking. In accordance with international and national law, we have requested international protection from the US government when we arrived on the island of Guam. Our asylum cases are being processed in the USCIS office in Los Angeles, California. The people of Guam hosted us with open, kind hearts, cordiality and hospitality. However, we believe that Federal agencies have been violating our rights and freedoms for a long time, namely:
- International law, namely the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (art. 26, art. 6), ratified by the United States, guarantees us freedom of movement within the USA. However, when we are trying to exercise this right by taking a direct domestic flight from Guam to Honolulu,U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) does not allow us to do so. U.S. CBP subjects us to restrictions that contradict the Convention. In fact, it violates International law. U.S. CBP demands documents from us that are not indicated by article 6 of the Convention relating to the status of refugees. In doing so, U.S. CBP refers to old national legislation that erects border barriers between regions of the same country. We see that these old norms are based on the same racist and chauvinist views that were once expressed about the people of Guam themselves, calling the inhabitants of the territories “alien races” (http://marker.to/pnrBSx) The people of Guam are not “alien races”. And so aren’t we.
- US law sets a clear deadline for processing asylum claims of 180 days, while we have been waiting for this process for years. Even those of us who had their interview with the officer almost 1 and a half year ago, still didn’t receive a decision. We believe that USCIS, as a Federal Agency, is abusing the immunity granted to it from legal challenges to compliance with deadlines. We also cannot understand USCIS's refusal to conduct an interview via video link—this is highly groundless, especially in conditions of the nationwide pandemic of COVID-19.
In the current circumstances of hopelessness, one of the Russian asylum seekers has already committed suicide, others are also developing depression, and others are unable to fly off the island to receive the necessary medical care. The long forced stay on the island seriously affects the health and quality of life in general. For many of us, Guam's hot tropical climate causes heath-related problems. Our opportunities in terms of medicine, education for children, employment opportunities are limited to those available on the island. We are deprived of the opportunity to plan our lives.
In this situation, we are forced to defend our rights by holding rallies. We have to admit that the ongoing series of rallies haven't actually led to any resolution, so we are ready to go on the hunger strike in order to stop the violation of our rights. We ask everyone to support our appeals and help to bring our lives out of the darkness of hopelessness.