UOG social work students join Russian asylum protest

The UOG students held placards expressing their support and solidarity with the Russian asylum seekers (Photo by Louella Losinio, PNC News)

On Tuesday, members of the UOG Social Work Student Alliance joined the group of Russian asylum seekers camped at the grounds of the Governor’s Complex in a peaceful protest.

The UOG students held placards expressing their support and solidarity with the Russian asylum seekers. Some of the signs read; “To seek asylum means to escape persecution” and “Asylum is a right. Freedom is a gift.”

Reuel Drilon, a member of the UOG Social Work Alliance, spoke on behalf of the group.

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Last week, the asylum seekers started a hunger strike in front of Adelup and a spokesperson for the group said it could go on for days until the government responds.

On Sunday, members called 911 when two of the four on hunger strike experienced health issues.

The asylum seekers went to Guam seeking protection because they have suffered persecution (or fear that they will suffer persecution) due to race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or their political opinion.

The asylum seekers on strike want to voice their right to move freely within the United States, citing the provisions of the UN international convention on the rights of refugees.

Fedor Simanov, one of the asylum seekers, spoke to PNC about their plight.

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The Russian asylum statement on the protest:

“Today is the 9th day of the Hunger strike of 4 Russian Asylum seekers who were forced to take this extreme measure as they have exhausted all other measures to stop the violation of their right to freedom of movement within the country.”  

“The action itself caused a wide public outcry and serious concern on the island of Guam. Vice-speaker Tina Muna  Barnes appealed to the White House and National Security Council to intervene promptly into the situation. Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio had a conversation with Asylum seekers last Friday. The administration will do steps in furtherance of our efforts to contact the federal government with regard to outstanding petitions for asylum seekers.” 

 “We will rely on the support and assistance of GovGuam. We believe they will remain true to their word.” 

 “Today is raining…this is our tears…”

 “In despair but still in hope, Affirmative Asylum Seekers in Guam.” 

 The group also thanked the UOG students for standing in solidarity with them.

A federal matter

Last week, Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio and his team reached out to the asylum seekers.

Tenorio heard their concerns and told K57’s Patti Arroyo that the asylum seekers cannot clear pre-inspection because of their unresolved immigration status that’s been complicated by the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stance.

Since it is now up to the USCIS and the federal government to act on the asylees’ application, Tenorio said that at this point the local government can only bring attention to their plight.