Friday, August 07, 2009

Discussion about the problems immigrants face in Denmark

During the “Revolutionary Summer Camp 2009”* we had the opportunity to discuss today with activists in the immigration movement and learn more about the situation with immigrants in Denmark.

* The camp is organised
by the Communist Youth League - DKU (youth of APK)

Farhiya Khalid, activist in the immigration movement talked us mainly about the Sandholm Asylum Center, in which 500 people are hosted. Sandholm is the biggest asylum in Denmark. It hosts people from many countries mainly from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Tamils from Sri Lanka. Many have been stranded there for years. Their claims for asylum have been rejected but they are also unable to return to their countries where they may face persecution.

The people hosted in the asylum have no papers and they are not allowed to educate or work. The review period is very long. The average waiting period for asylum seekers in Denmark is more 800 days and asylum is never given to certain groups, for example Sunnis.

The long review period causes traumas, depression, mental and health problems; especially to the children.

Activists are trying to close down the immigration center. In October 2008 more than 5,000 people demonstrated outside the Sandholm asylum and tried to close it. The started peacefully and after some time some protesters tried to cut through the fence around the centre. The police responded with tear gasses and at least 43 protesters had been arrested during the clashes.

Signe Faerch, volunteer in the initiative Church Asylum gave us information about the Iraqi immigrants. Since May 2009 a group of about 60 Iraqis seeking shelter closed itself in the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen (the National Cathedral of Denmark) in order to prevent its forced deportation home. After 3 day there, they moved to another church, called the church of Bronson (Bronson Kirke) where they have been since, and are now. A movement of support was created. The initiative Church Asylum has at about 400 volunteers in which is mainly focusing in two activities: a) To organise everyday life in the Church trying to make it bearable and b) To campaign in order to rise media’s attention and convince more people to support the immigrants.

The life in the Church is very difficult for the Iraqis since there is fear, uncertainly and not enough space. People are staffed together, leaving no space for privacy. These people have been for up to 11 years to Denmark. Most of them have been more than 5 years. The Danish government insists in trying to send these people back to their country despite of UN’s different opinion. Two thirds of these people are orientated from central Iraq (Bagdad, Tikrit, etc.) and a return is very dangerous for their life and people are feared to go back. Due to this fear 44 of the Iraqi asylum seekers who were staying in Denmark have disappeared. Some other have been arrested awaiting their forced repatriation.

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