Man sews lips together during Finsbury hunger strike

A desperate Iranian man on hunger strike has sewn his lips together and is prepared to starve to death in protest at the treatment of Christians in his home country.

Abdul Rahim Dehdozorgi, 34, says he has not eaten for the past 23 days and is living in a tent in Exmouth Market, opposite the offices of Amnesty International, drinking nothing but water and a small amount of juice.

Mr Dehdozorgi, who is a Christian, has been on the streets for more than three years and says he can’t go home because he will be persecuted for his religious beliefs – like Pastor Yucef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran for criticising the majority Muslim faith.

He said: “If I go back to Iran they will kill me. I want someone to help me, Amnesty International or the Home Office. I have been homeless for three years, I haven’t seen my wife or child for all of that time – I have had no support at all.

“Everyone needs to realise there is a problem, not just for me but for all Christians in Iran.

“I will stay here every day until I die if I have to.”

Posters on the side of Mr Dehdozorgi’s tent, which make reference to the treatment of Pastor Nadarkhani. say: “For the first time in 20 years the Islamic republic of Iran had issued a formal death sentence for a Christian.

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“There have been 300 arrests of Christians in 35 cities across Iran since 2010.”

Majid Rasaloy, a fellow Iranian who works on a nearby food stall, said: “We used to see him every day, but after 15 days he wasn’t around.

‘‘We were really worried about him. He was so tired from lack of food he was just staying in his tent with the flap closed.

“A few days ago he was crying and I asked him what was wrong. He told me someone had kicked him through the tent, really hurting him. It’s the second time it’s happened.

“I couldn’t do something like this – he is so desperate he feels there is no other way. I think it is very brave and I hope things work out for him.”

Mr Dehdozorgi’s immigration status is unclear and the Home Office refuses to comment on individual cases, but it is understood that he is not under immediate threat of deportation.