Action against deportations in malmö, sweden.
It was only a few months ago that we were reading about “welcoming” sweden. The “organised”, “multicultural” and “tolerant” country of nothern europe which is embracing under her wings the “persecuted refugees from syria” offering equal “rights” of survival, directly promising a safe living. A country that for years “hosts” the earth’s wretched from the middle east, the former yugoslavia, kosovo, africa. Yes, we’re talking about sweden with the years of supposedly-liberal immigration tradition but also the millions of immigrants who have supported the so-called “swedish model” with their work. Let’s talk a little bit about sweden seriously, removing the cloaking image of sweden as a saintly hospitable country. Let’s see that – as in every state – repression and systemic racism is swept under the carpet.
Over the past few years the social and political agenda has been dramatically shifting to the right regardless of whether it is conservative or social democratic governance, and now far-right swedish democrats with their fascist rants against LGBT, immigrants and islam are in the parliament. The structural racism of the swedish “paradise” breeds ghettos and second class citizens, and consolidates a divided labour system in which some jobs are relegated to immigrants. For example, the racist project REVA  (Legal and Effective Enforcement Work) uses police roadblocks in public transport stations to make daily checks to identify undocumented immigrants. The cops however show a persistent preference towards people with certain racial characteristics. Meanwhile, the swedish state shows a new-found sensitivity for fighting fascism by capturing antifascists (!) in various cities of the country while it looks the other way when it comes to nazi attacks even when they’re directed against families with young children. Those – like Joel – who react against structural racism and the openly fascist swedish “paradise” are persecuted and imprisoned by the state which with such actions encourages nazi attacks. While writing these lines, four comrades became victims of a neo-nazi attack in malmo city centre. One of them is in a critical condition.
Within this context, the swedish state has declared war against refugees seeking asylum from afghanistan and elsewhere. The irony is that swedish troops haven’t withdrawn from afghanistan yet. Three of the refugees recount how they arrived in sweden with the following testimonies:
My father owned a bus company in Afghanistan and made quite a lot of money, we were fairly well of until we run into trouble with the Taliban. They demanded that my father paid them a lot of money. For a while he could pay what they wanted but as time went by the demands grew bigger and his wallet thinner. When he could no longer pay what they asked they threatened and tortured our entire family. Finally they told my father that he had one last chance, if you do not find the money and pay us we will kill you and your entire family next time. For some time we lived as internally displaced refugees, we moved from Ghaznitoo Kabul, but it did not take them long to find us there so we saw no other opportunity than to leave Afghanistan. My father told us that we would try to get to Sweden since it was the only country that would never start a war and because they had a good educational system there. Together we made our way to Turkey with false passports, but when we tried to board a plane to Greece the rest of my family was stopped. I made it through because I spoke English.
I am a Dublin-case and I have fled through many countries before I reached Sweden. I was on flight through Europe for two years and since I didn’t have any money I travelled on foot most of the way. I was homeless in Greece for six months where I waited for my family. I slept outside in a park and received food from the church. My family never came and eventually I decided to carry on and see if they had made it to Sweden. From Greece I wandered to Macedonia and from there I made my way to Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. From Italy too France and through Germany and Denmark I could sometimes travel by train or taxi for shorter stretches but I still had to walk for the most part, I walked alongside the train tracks so that I would not get lost. I came to from Denmark to Sweden with the ferry.
Sweden wanted to send me back to Slovenia in accordance with the Dublin Convention, I tried to explain that I could not go back there since they would send me straight back to Afghanistan. After having my first application denied I lived undocumented in Sweden for 18 months until I could apply for asylum again. This was a stressful and difficult time for me and I could never feel safe and at ease, but constantly worried about being sent back to Slovenia. The Swedish Migration Board hired an interpreter that did not speak my language. I tried to tell them that I do not understand Farsi and that Dari is similar to Farsi but not similar enough for me and the interpreter to understand each other completely, and for the details in my history to be conveyed correctly. The interpreter translated wrong and even though I have evidence showing that my life is under serious threat in Afghanistan and that me and my family will be killed if we return I was rejected again.
I used to work as store manager in the Duty-Free Shop on an airport in Afghanistan. As such I could move around freely without passing control stations on the airport. At the airport we had a rather small locale so we also rented a compound some distance away from the airport, in Wazir Akbar Khan. I travelled between the airport and the compound by car.I was also able to drive in and out of the airport area without going through control. Somebody had forwarded this information to the Taliban. The Taliban came to me and demanded that I help them skip control and customs and get into the airport or that I delivered some materials for them to someone inside the airport. During a period they came to me every day and warned me. They told me, If you want to live you have to help us smuggle this materials into the airport. They explained to me that the materials were explosives meant for killing the enemies of Islam, i.e. non-Muslims. The day came when I felt that this might be my very last day. There were three paths I could walk down, I could chose death, I could chose to deliver the Taliban’s explosives and contribute to the death of other human beings or I could chose to flee. I fled.
When I had made my decision I stayed hidden for six days until my aunt’s son had arranged a smuggler for me and my family. We travelled from Afghanistan too Iran by the help of smugglers even though my wife was pregnant and we had a two year old daughter with us.From Iran we went to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece. On our way to Greece our boat sank and with it our daughter. After a long struggle we managed to retrieve her from under the water but she had swallowed large quantities of dirty water and mud. She became very ill and is still not quite well. After this ordeal we continued by foot into Greece, we walked for many hours. The police apprehended us and took us to prison. After Greece we went by rubber boat to Italy and from Italy we travelled to France, Germany, Denmark and finally Sweden.
In my file from when I applied for asylum there is things written that I have never said. When I asked my lawyer how this could happen he said that these things happen sometimes and that there is not much that can be done about it. The Migration Board can do whatever they want; they can write things in their papers that aren’t even true without anyone ever finding out. I have recently been in contact with a relative in Afghanistan, she told me that people have come looking for my father and that the people asking about him is threatening to kill him. They have not forgotten about me and what I have done and if I am sent back I will be found and killed.
My father had trouble with a local warlord in our home province in Afghanistan. They had murdered my uncle, my aunt’s husband and my maternal uncle’s son. When the US invaded Afghanistan and the Taliban were set back things got a little better for us and my father decided to take the men responsible for the killings to court. This got us into even more trouble and the family was threatened in order to pressure my father to withdraw his claims. When he refused my sister was kidnapped. My father still wouldn’t bend to their will and 10 days later we found my sisters body. Later my father was killed too and I was severely beaten and stabbed. They left me for dead. At this time I was just a boy, I was 14 years old. My mother brought me from Faryab to Kabul where we stayed for five days while I received medical attention. Then we left for Pakistan. I was badly injured and my mother carried me over the border. When I had recovered I carried on to Iran and Turkey and from there to Greece. Greece sent me back to Turkey twice, but I went back to Greece again and stayed there for a few years, but when the situation for refugees over there got worse I had to leave.
I travelled through many European countries before I reached Sweden. I applied for asylum here and got three rejections. The first time they told me that my story wasn’t credible, how could my mother have carried me for such a long way?The second time they said that it didn’t make sense that I had not applied for asylum in any of the other countries that I had been in if it was so dangerous for me in Afghanistan. The third time they told me that I did not have sufficient proof to convince them that I was who I say I am. My mother has disappeared; I have not been able to get in contact with her since 2008. In Afghanistan there is nothing for me to return to, just violence and death.
It is the fourth week of the action. In the second week of February we opened our tents in the Jesus Park in malmö, sweden. February is one of the coldest month in the swedish winter, when moist and the chill creep under your skin. In the beginning, we did not have a heat source in the tent, only each other. Our bodies ache and some days we just long for a sauna… But this was the best way that we could think of to make our voices heard. A continuous action that is visible in the middle of the city. Who will listen to us otherwise? We are three undocumented refugees from afghanistan. The state of sweden deports at least ten afghans per month. A few hours demonstration is something that people quickly forget whereas the media do not really queue to talk to us if we do not make something spectacular.
We want that people will know how irresponsible our asylum applications have been treated if we are to be deported back to afghanistan. In the park, we have the possibility to talk to people that we hope that they will spread the word about our story. Many of those who we have met during these weeks have been warm and friendly. They stopped by our tents and hanged out with us. Some of them came by with food, blankets and other stuff that we might need. Those warm people from sweden constitute a contrast to the cold, hard and bureaucratic system that we have been exposed to during the asylum application process. In the park, we have met people that took time to listen to us. During the asylum application process, we met interpreters that spoke the wrong language and administrators that distrust every word we mentioned. These administrators did not care much about our individual cases and they even wrote in their reports things that had nothing to do with us, but probably with other applicants which the administrators mixed up with us.
Our action’s primary demand is that our cases will be reconsidered by the swedish migration board. To be deported back to afghanistan is equal to death for us and the fact is that if it is all about death then we would rather die here than being sent there. Death here would be less brutal than death that waits for us there. We have not heard anything from the migration board. When during a demonstration on February 24 we cycled to the board’s venue in malmö, they responded by closing down the gates. On March 4, we called for a press conference and we invited the migration board to send representatives. They avoided participating. Two of us have received serving letters that our cases have been transferred from the migration board to the border police.
We now constitute deportation errands that will be “executed” soon, but when our friends look at us they only see humans that sweden is their home. Majeed, who was the first of us who received the letter from the police, has also his wife and two kids here. They have joined the action and they are also threatened to be deported. His daughter was only two when they escaped from afghanistan and almost died in their way here. When Majeed holds her in his lap it is very obvious on him that he lost her already once. His son, who still bears diapers, has never seen afghanistan. What kind of future do they have there? A very short future it is, with a father who is wanted by the Taliban.
On March 7, two employees from the municipality of malmö visited the tent action in the park. They said that they were there to inform us about a coming eviction. First, they gave us the weekend to pick up our stuff, to strip down the tents and leave the park but after a short negotiation they gave us time until the 17th of March. In the time being, we have no idea of what we are going to do after the 17th. But we do not let this thing bring us down. We hold our spirits up. Our struggle will continue until it gives a positive result. We will not stop when we will get tired, we will stop when we come to the end of the road.
Many collectives in malmö, such as aktion mot deportation, support the action in the park.
The swedish state is clearly not interested in dealing with racism. It breeds racism, it imprisons immigrants and persecutes those who confront it in every possible occasion. The “welcoming”, “organised”, “multicultural” and tolerant country of northen europe is bluntly deporting refugees to certain death because “it is easy to do the right thing and complies with the law”. We don’t agree with their law. We are in solidarity with the three refugees from afghanistan and their families. We demand the immediate cancellation of the deportation procedure and the provision of a residence permit. Should anything happen to Massieh, Majeed and Zabihullah, the swedish state is solely responsible.
Solidarity with the immigrants, solidarity with the refugees!
 Project REVA (“Rättssäkerhet och Effektivt Verkställighetsarbete” means “Legal and Effective Enforcement Work”) is similar to the project Xenios Zeus in greece. It is a racist project of the swedish government that involves residence permit inspections in stockholm’s subway and other transport infrastructure (intercity train stations and city buses) in order to ensure the effectiveness of identifying and deporting immigrants without residence permits. Read more here.