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Businessman on hunger strike outside Foreign Ministry

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Businessman on hunger strike outside Foreign Ministry
Photo: DPA
13:50 CEST+02:00
A businessman is camping out in front of the German Foreign Ministry on a self-styled hunger strike, in fury at the government's refusal to help him after a deal went sour in the United Arab Emirates.

Mustafa Mutlu, 54, from Aachen, has been in front of the ministry in Berlin since the start of September, occasionally eating fruit but otherwise fasting in a desperate attempt to get attention for his cause.

Mutlu, who is a Turkish citizen but has lived in Germany for around 30 years and has a family here, is surrounded by two large signs which read, “Hunger strike.”

“I'm going to be here as long as I can until I am taken to the hospital,” he told The Local. “It's the principle of the thing.”

He said a deal between his construction company and a partner in the United Arab Emirates in the mid 1990s went wrong, and claims he was ripped off to the tune of around €260,000.

The German embassy initially offered to investigate and mediate the dispute – only to drop out due to his Turkish citizenship, he said.

He has remained in dispute with the government since then, demanding more help, while the Foreign Ministry says he needs to get a lawyer in the Abu Dhabi.

Finally, fed up with the situation he decided on the protest, which he said he would continue for as long as necessary.

“The Foreign Ministry and the Germany embassy in Abu Dhabi have been involved in the case for several years,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Local in an email. “The Embassy and the Foreign Ministry have advised Mr Mutlu repeatedly to engage a lawyer to represent his interests.”

The spokeswoman later said that officials could do nothing more to help him even if Mutlu were a German citizen.

Mutlu said he had consulted lawyers and police in Abu Dhabi who were unable to help him, and that the Turkish embassy was of no use either.

“I've lived here for decades,” he says. “Only the Germans can help.”

He sleeps on a bench near the entrance to the ministry, forcing the sharp-suited diplomats to skirt around him on their way into and out of work.

“I have no other option and that is my final request to you,” reads the text on his placards, which state that the German government is his last hope.

He said he was separated from his wife and that his children; a 11-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, were not aware of his protest.

Mutlu spends his days sitting on the bench and chatting with passers-by or visiting a nearby hotel where the staff lets him use the toilet or drink warm tea.

“My bones are aching, my stomach is empty, but I'm not moving,” he said.

Moises Mendoza

moises.mendoza@thelocal.de

twitter.com/moisesdmendoza

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