Two days ago I wrote an open letter on my blog directed to the governments and religious leaders in Pakistan and India as an attempt to end the horrible killings and atrocities that are going on on the Indian subcontinent. As I said in that letter we here too, in my part of the world have many things to reconsider in how we treat people, and that goes for everyone, without exception. We must both help ourselves and others, and that combination of individual development and self-care as well as care for others is a mixed balance that isn’t easy, even though it’s needed. Yesterday evening I went listening to a panel debate at Moriskan about how Swedish police and the Migration Authority treat people who come to Sweden without papers.
The treatment of people who have come to Sweden without papers have been noticed in media recently and now there was this debate about it. The event yesterday attracted a large audience, and many who were angry about the situation. The debate was moderated by Ehsan Noroozi, (the man to the right in the picture above), and whom often is heard in radio. They had invited Baharan Kazemi, a young woman who’s secretary of FARR, the National Council of Refugee Groups, Caroline Henjered, Chief of Operations at the Migration Authority, Petra Stenkula from the County Constabulary, Nils Karlsson from the Environment Party and Ewa Tallén Finné, from the Conservative Party which is now the major party in the Swedish government.
The Migration Authority and the County Constabulary, Swedish police, has together started a pilot project called Reva and chosen Malmoe Municipality and Scania, because of its vicinity to the continent and its medium sized population to test their new efficiency policy. Reva is meant to speed up the efficiency of the treatment of people who come to Sweden without papers. Many children, teen-agers, young adults has landed here as refugees after having fled war-zones and other unfortunate situations. On the way here they are abused by criminal gangs, specialised in human trafficking, who take their passports. Many who arrive in Sweden are traumatized for having been beaten, abused and badly treated by gangsters and smugglers in different countries, being forced into prostitution, used as cheap labour, being badly treated by police in different countries etc. When they arrive here they often need help by psychologists to deal with their traumatic experiences. Reva (which was started in Malmoe without telling the politicians and other authorities in Malmoe about it), has been going on for a little while. The Migration Authority and the Border Police now were critisized for how they dealt with these people who come here. They were accused of bursting into civilian weddings, surveilance of school kids, contacting school boards, waiting outside children psychologists for refugee kids who’re treated for their PTSS, stopping people in the streets on their bicycles, especially if they looked foreign. The criteria were: 1) How do they dress? 2) What do they seem to bring? 3) Do they look as if they’re new in the country. When Petra Stenkula and Caroline Henjered gave their views on a humane migration policy they were interrupted by angry voices in the audience. A short intense discussion was held between Petra Stenkula from the Police and a young woman near the stage from the Asylum group. She accused the Police for not listening and having a dialogue, while Petra replied that they had a dialogue with e.g. the Red Cross and others about specific cases, but that the representatives from the Asylum group stopped coming to the meetings. The young woman then replied that they had stopped coming because they didn’t think the police were sensitive enough for their views. Baharan Kazemi from FARR said many wise things, held a distinguished tone and intelligent profile and was the only one in the panel who got applauds for her intelligent statements. She wanted a general better treatment of the refugees, and said for instance that even those who’re sent back must be treated with dignity, not be treated as criminals. Baharan also said that she had experienced being stopped in the street by police herself in Paris, France, ten years ago, but never thought the same tendecies would reach Sweden.
The Dublin Convention was accused several times for having contributed to the maltreatment of people, and Nils Karlsson from the Environment Party was attacked as their representative, since the Environment Party signed a treaty with the government in 2011 about how to deal with refugees.The efficiency policy is mentioned there, but he explained that if the Environment Party had had more to say in that compromize or decided themselves the decision would have looked much more humane. They had to decide between two different drafts: one that gave the refugees the right to health care and one without. I could well understand his dilemma there, and since I have a similar ideology myself, I could well recognize also that kind of frustration. Still things have to change.
The debate lasted for about 90 minutes, and an elderly gentleman from Iran in the audience said in an upset voice: “You speak of being humane, humane, humane all of you. But sending a 15-year old to a country, who’s arrested in the airport and then killed as happened recently, is that humane?” A young Somalian woman in the audience also said that Somalian refugees sometimes are sent to Djibouti, because the Swedish authorities do not dare going to Somalia, because of the wars there, not paying attention to if the refugee will cope or even survive in Djibouti.
The bottom line here is how we treat each other. That goes for everyone. If we’re treated as vermin and low lifes continously it enhances the risk that we become outcasts and end up in trouble. Cynical rogues always abuse the situation, and if we want a better society, all actors ought to improve. If we want to combat crime, we mustn’t help the criminals who sell drugs, engage in prostitution, or employers who thrive from cheap or free labour. If we want dignity and be able to be proud of ourselves and the society we live in the humane values must back in with our human responsibility in our mutual interaction.
Anders Moberg, January the 13th 2013