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Iceland: police use teargas against refugee rights protest

The police in Iceland have used teargas and reacted rather violently on Monday when asylum seekers protested wanting to draw attention to the inhumane conditions they live in, Refugees in Iceland have reported. 

Yesterday’s protest was the fourth in the recent weeks.  In the invitation to the gathering, the No Borders Iceland stated:

“In the past month, we have stood united as refugees and tried to make our voices heard so that we may claim our rights as human beings on this earth. Show us solidarity by joining us in Austurvöllur on Monday at 15:00, listen to our demands and help us make the authorities listen as well.“

Among other basic needs to be met,  the people gathered in Austurvöllur, a location where Icelanders usually hold protests, to demand that the remote Ásbrú camp is taken down and its inhabitants’ cases properly reviewed.

Three weeks have passed, according to protesters, from the time they sent a written letter to the government, with the assistance and support of the Red Cross, without receiving any answers. When a protest meeting was held outside the Directorate of Immigration at the time, no agency representative stepped out to hear protest claims and demands, but on the contrary, the security concerns were raised.

So far, the only response is both institutional and physical violence inflicted by the state, the group stated.

Refugees’ demands, published by No Borders Iceland on 14th February

After the yesterday protest, a police officer said that when the police approached to confiscate the cardbox people were holding with signs on it (allegedly thinking they had wanted to set it on fire), some of the protesters responded badly and were arrested.

Elinborg Harpa, the activist of the No Borders Association said to the media upon their arrest:

“We all sat on cardboard boxes because it was cold and we wanted isolation from the ground. The police said they thought we were going to fire. We explained to the police that we were not going to fire a fire, but this was to sit on. Yet, they decided to attack us and tear us away. Before I know, I’ve been arrested and slammed into the ground. “ 

An Icelander commented the situation, saying the people are “protesting the Icelandic governments failure to comply with international law and human rights in their treatment of asylum seekers. Among their demands are the right to work, which they are currently denied (despite a labor shortage), some times for years. They are not asking for any handouts, only basic human liberties.”

The next protest is planned for today.  

Source: Are You Syrious

Photo: Refugees in Iceland

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