Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark!

Tord Björk | Climate,police,Repression | Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Friends of the Earth Sweden sees a need in politicizing the preparations for the Copenhagen Climate activities in December. We see a need in bringing to the forefront such issues that shows the hypocrisy and the violence inherent in continuing the present fossil fuel development model. It is not enough with the political platforms which initiatives as Climate Forum 09 and Climate Justice Action are based upon. It is also necessary to continously express criticism on actual conflicts were our common agenda and its contradictions with the present politics is shown.

The deportation of Iraq war refugees from a church in Copenhagen is one way this contradiction is clearly expressed. We call upon other organizations to sign on to our statement below.

Tord Björk, FoE Sweden

Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark!

We denounce the violence in Denmark against refugees from the oil war in Iraq. The violent police action to deport asylum seekers in the Brorson church in Nörrebro in the Danish capital Copenhagen where riot gear was used inside the church as well as the use of massive force on the street outside the church against supporters of the refugees is not humane.

This violence is inherent in the present fossil fuel based development model. This development model is the basis for unsustainable production and consumption in privileged countries like Denmark. At the same time the majority of the population in the world live in places that gets impoverished. Here the natural resources are exploited benefiting the privileged rich social classes living elsewhere by the use of aggressive economic or military means. The result is growing social inequalities and a global ecological crisis including global warming.

We support the massive Danish civil disobedience against the violence used against the Iraqi refugees. Hiding asylum seekers in Denmark is a crime. It has especially severe consequences for priests in the Danish state church as they are employed by the Danish state. The priest that allowed the refugees to use the Brorson church as an asylum is now faced with charges from his employers which may end by the loss of his job. He is supported by proximately half of the priests in the Danish church and one fourth of the Danish priests claim that they are willing to hide refugees as an act of civil disobedience. The violent eviction of the refugees from the church also caused wide spread protests among the rest of the population. Some hours afterwards 20 000 people gathered in a demonstration  to denounce the police action and deportation. Thousands of Danes from all strands of society now claim that they are willing to use civil disobedience to hide refugees and a lot of actions takes place to mobilise against the inhumane acts against refugees in Denmark.

We environmental, peasant, pacifist, indigenous, religious and other movements in different parts of the world call for solidarity with the Danish civil disobedience movement to protect refugees and demand a humane asylum policy and practice. We see the respect of the age old right of church asylum as important for a society that want to call itself humane and democratic.

We are also worried about the way the Danish state acts in a time when the causes behind growing number of refugees are going to be discussed a the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen 7-18 of December. More and more refugees comes from regions were war and occupation is carried out to enforce the exploitation of fossil fuels in the interest of rich and privileged countries or from regions with victims of global warming.  Denmark is in many cases in the forefront of repression and criminalization of popular movements. In Denmark contrary to a neighbouring country like Sweden hiding asylum seekers is a crime and thus a movement which in Sweden includes tens of thousands of people is criminalized in Denmark. The first organisation to be sentenced as a terrorist organisation in Denmark according to new laws is Greenpeace who entered the office of a corporation in Copenhagen and made a banner drop protesting against GMOs.

The Climate Summit is a historic opportunity to strengthen a global climate justice alliance among all movements and those governments willing to acknowledge global and social justice as the basis for solving the climate crisis. It is of importance for the whole humanity that this voice can be raised. The massive use of force against those inside and outside of the Brorson church to enforce the deportation of the refugees puts in question the willingness of the Danish state to provide the possibility of a democratic participation in the climate negotiations including movements from the South. The Danish People’s Party which has pushed the Danish government towards more and more restrictive policies towards refugees is now also calling for a closure of the borders for demonstrators during the Climate Summit.

We call upon solidarity among all movements supporting climate justice against repression and escalation of violent police actions against refugees and movements in Denmark and during the Climate Summit.

Friends of the Earth Sweden

The deportation has been criticised as the Danish state entered the church and after a while put their riot gear on. This has been claimed by others to be a lie. But in the end it became clear that although the police did not enter the building in riot gear they put them on after a while. The police action outside the church to fulfil the deportation was violent according to all sources.

The first video showing how the police action and the response developed can be seen at:

Outside the church:

Inside the Church:

The police video from the action was published later. In the video it becomes clear that the police had the riot gear on after a while and that the Iraqi refugees were shocked , some raised chairs over their hads but did not hit any policemen whith other tried to commit suicide with glass and jumping from high up. It is claimed but not shown on the video that the riot gear was used after that some glass was thrown at the police. When the news was presented it became clear that the violence used by the police outside the church is accepted as truth both by those criticising the deportation and those defending the police.

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