About 60 people protested at the Ministry of the Interior today, calling upon authorities to bring Nigerian asylum seeker Eze Okafor back to Iceland. Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal would not meet with the protestors.
At 12:30 today, about 60 Icelanders, asylum seekers and related parties met at the Ministry of the Interior, beseeching Ólöf to use her executive power as the top immigration official to bring Eze Okafor back to Iceland. He is slated to be sent from Sweden to Nigeria tomorrow morning, where he faces almost certain reprisals from Boko Haram, who have already murdered his brother and attempted to murder Eze. His deportation from Iceland was met with protest and resistance in the form of direct action. (Article continues after the photos)
A friend of Eze’s, who also hails from Nigeria, spoke to the crowd about the greater context of the situation.
“Eze is facing a death sentence,” he told the crowd. “He will be handed over to Boko Haram when he gets back to Nigeria. There is no peace in Nigeria. I beg the Icelandic authorities to bring him back here. He has no problem with anyone here. This [deportation] is like putting a bullet in his head. Let him have his peace here.”
At one point, protestors began chanting “Eze heim!” (“Eze back home [to Iceland]!”), while knocking on the ministry office’s door in time with the beat of the chant. Two police officers intervened, called for back-up, and formed a wall of seven officers between the protestors and the offices. Protestors responded by erecting a large banner between the police and the protestors.
While Ólöf would not meet with the protestors, refusing to even comment on the matter, attendees were met by Ministry Office Manager Hermann Sæmundsson.
“I’m here to deliver your message to the minister,” Hermann told protestors.
“I think the message is pretty clear!,” a protestor shouted back. “Do you want this on your conscience?”
“I don’t want to talk about specific cases,” he responded. “I have heard you. Calm down. I will convey your message [to the minister].”
Eze’s friend reminded Hermann that Boko Haram also has internet access, have been following Eze’s case, and are awaiting his deportation to Nigeria. Hermann repeated that he would convey the protestors’ message.
At this point, the sit-in began. Police stood by while protestors chanted, but at about four o’ clock, sources close to the Grapevine say some 20 police officers arrived and dragged the protestors out by force. No arrests were made.
The protestors are, at the time of this writing, on their way to parliament. There, they will make their presence known in the public gallery within the halls of parliament, calling upon elected officials to intervene and bring Eze back to Iceland.
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