Stitched up in protest

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The National,Monday June 20th, 2016

A FOREIGNER married to a local woman for 11 years is in hospital after stitching his mouth to protest the delay in the processing of his residential status in the country.
Mohamed Dahan Ghagdali, originally from Morocco in Africa, was last Saturday taken to the Port Moresby General Hospital from Bomana Prison where he had been awaiting deportation since his arrest by National Capital District police in August last year.
He arrived in the country in 2001 on his way to seek refugee status in Australia. He married Alison Serono from Bougainville in 2005. They have five children.
He said in a text message (because he cannot speak): “I have been in PNG for the last 16 years. The authorities denied all my rights, no justice for me as a human (being) and an independent activist for Western Sahara and as a father of five kids married to a PNG woman. I have been in detention for deportation at the Bomana prison without any proper criminal charges for the last 10 months.”
“(I have been)  behind bars locked 15 hours a day with inmates. I drop my blood for justice to be done for me and my family. I need to see the media and a protection officer for an independent panel for refugees in PNG.”
He said he would not remove the stitches until justice was done to him and his family.
No comments could be obtained from Immigration officials yesterday. But Bomana prison commanding officer Superintendent Kiddy Keko said Ghagdali was detained on the direction of the Immigration Department for not having a valid visa or passport when “he entered the Independent State of Papua New Guinea in 2001 and had been without one since”.
Keko told The National that Ghagdali had stitched up his month to show that he was on a hunger strike. Authorities were yet to find out how Ghagdali stitched his mouth while in detention.
Keko said Ghagdali was transferred on Saturday afternoon to the Port Moresby General Hospital since his hunger strike started on Thursday. Ghagdali was medically fit and was well looked after while in prison.
According to a statement Ghagdali gave to The National, he fled from Morocco in 1997 to Libya for political reasons.
He spent four years there before moving to Jordan in 2001, then made his way to Indonesia.
He entered PNG in March 2001 after crossing the PNG-Indonesia border. He arrived by dinghy in Vanimo from where he flew to Port Moresby.
Ghagdali said his intention was to make his way to Australia to seek refugee status there. But he was intercepted by the Australian Federal Police at Sybai Island on his way to Australia. He was handed back to PNG authorities.
Wife Sereno is calling on authorities to stop his deportation, describing him as a “good husband” who had established a good life with her and their five children.
Serono told The National that his absence from home had caused a lot of distress for her and their children.