Bringing Down the Myth of Sweden as a Nation of Solidarity

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Aktion mot deportation is a two year old Swedish campaign in the No Border spirit which forms resistance against the Swedish system of forced deportations, pointing a finger at the unjust and violent treatment of refugees in detention centers and asylum seekers overall.

by Marcus Regnander, Aktion mot deportation, Göteborg

You might know Sweden as a nation of gender equality, of solidarity, with low levels of corruption and a just legal system. A place where refugees can come, and get asylum as soon as they cross Sweden’s border.

These are all myths that more and more people inside Sweden are starting to see through and break down in different ways. While it might be true that some parts of the Swedish system can be more open than that of other countries, this does not mean that immigrant prisons, forced deportations and the splitting of families are not problems that causes severe suffering for refugees coming to Sweden in pursiut of a safer and happier life.

Only in these last few weeks one case has caused outrage over the migration system, not because it’s a single case but because media picked up the tear soaked stories of the people involved. The two small kids Deymond and Hiyab from Eritrea, 5 and 3 years old, are about to be deported to Italy according to the Dublin Declaration, but without taking into the picture that they do not have any family or connections there, nor that the older Deymon suffers from developmental disabilities and autism and is in need of constant care. A letter writing and media campaign is up and running for allowing these kids to stay in Sweden with their host family, but at the time of writing it’s not known how this story will end.

This is unfortunately only just one example of the unjust Swedish migation system. Sweden also holds the not so flattering record of being the country that has been found guilty of deporting refugees to countries where they risk being tortured the most times in the UN commitee of Torture.

No less than 18 times has Sweden been found guilty of deporting refugees to countries where they after returning have been tortured. In January a person was also deported from Sweden, tortured when returing to Iraq and eight days after his arrival he dissapeared. And the story of Khaled Khodeda is well known both in Denmark and Sweden, a Kurdish man who was deported to Iraq and early in the morning of October 24th was found in his hideout by unknown men and attacked with a hammer and then got his throat cut and died.

Acts of Solidarity

These stories are the reasons for the foundation and growth of the rather new network in Sweden, called Aktion mot deportation. Activists from our network have been trying to block the forced deportations of, amongst others, Iraqi citizens. Finding places to stay, money, food, and giving healthcare to hidden immigrants are older and still very important acts of solidarity that hundreds of people all over Sweden are involved in. Yet, direct action against the detention centers is a newer form for trying to handle the inhumane way immigrants are threated in Sweden. No less than eleven times during 2011 have groups of Iraqi refugees been deported against their will from either Malmö, Göteborg or Stockholm, and thoundsands more are waiting for their call to get on the Frontex planes.

Activists have been continusly visiting the five detention centers in Sweden, with a message of solidarity and an aim of connecting and getting information about when the deportations will take place. And everytime a deportation has been known, direct actions in different ways have been set to try to stop the deportation machine. People have locked themselves in the way for the buses and blocking the road with their bodies. In as many ways as possible we’ve tried to bring attention to the violence the Swedish system is forcing upon refugees and asylum seekers, speaking out as much as possible in mass media and in public places, to unconver the deportation system.

None of the actions have been successful in the meaning of actually blocking the deportations for any longer time. But we have managed to make the massdeportations to a really expensive process for the migration system, having to bring loads of police each time to be able to pull their awful business through. Our actions are also causing uncomfortable discussions for the responsible migration minister of the Swedish parliament, Tobias Billström (Moderaterna, right wing neoliberal), whom desperately defends their politics by refering to laws and claiming that ”40% of all Iraqies that seek refugee in Sweden can stay”. As if that would be enough.

A new Tactic

A new tactic from our side for interfering with the deportation machine has been very successful and interesting. After each deportation during this fall we have noted which bus companies that have been used to bring the refugees to the airport, and then made campaigns against their involvement in this inhumane process. We have called out to people to call and email the companies involed, telling them what they are a part of and the consequences of this. And this strategy has been a great success, faced with the context of what their buses are helping out with, several companies have taken an open stand against the deportation system. Examples of this are Ingvar Ryggesjö from Swebus who says ”We don’t want to take part in processes that is politically sensitive to the society” or the words from Lars Kronvall CEO on Nettbuss Transfer ”we can’t see this working out with our view on social responsibilty and will not take part in massdeportations again”.

At the time of writing, Iraqi minister Dindar Ndjeman Dosky is pleading to the Swedish minister of migration Tobias Billström that Sweden needs to change it’s implementation of the bilateral agreement between the two nations, and stop with the forced deportations since the Iraqi government can’t guarantee their saftey. Until the inhumane deportations stop we will keep being these uncomfortable clogs in the machinery of the Swedish deportation system. Until we make the deportations stop and we can open up the detention centers – we will keep making the process as expensive, uncomfortable and public as possible. It should at least be expensive to be inhumane.

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