A family from Kurdistan Iraq who came to Iceland about a year ago are set to be detained on Monday, and deported to Norway the following day. From there, they will in all likelihood be sent back to Iraq, where they say they will face certain persecution and reprisals.
Grapevine previously reported on Christian Rølla, a photographer from Norway who met with the family, who were at the time awaiting a decision from the Directorate of Immigration on whether their application for asylum would be accepted. Grapevine has now learned that, on a meeting the family had with immigration authorities on July 10, their application has been rejected. They will be taken into custody on July 17, and sent to Norway the next day.
Norway regularly deports people fleeing Iraq back to that country, as Norwegian authorities consider the country to be safe. However, as can be seen in the video below, the country is anything but safe for the Sabre family.
Bejan, the father of the family, worked as a police officer in his home country.
“I did my job, but unfortunately when you do this in Iraq, you face the unexpected,” he says in the video at the end of this article. “Then you have to think about your position. This is what happened to me.”
The family had strong reason to believe they faced kidnapping, rape, and death if they were to remain in the country, due to their father’s position. After going into hiding and selling everything they owned, they managed to pay traffickers as they made their way through Turkey, Russia, and then into Norway. There, they had little food to eat and owned nothing, and soon were told they had 10 days to leave Norway. They opted to try their luck in Iceland.
“Here in Iceland there are very nice people,” eldest daughter Zhakou says. “We are safe here, but we are not certain.”
Bejan also emphasised his positive experience of Iceland, saying, “Here we have everything. A nice home, plenty of space. We have things to wear, eat and drink. People are very nice, and the level of humanitarianism is top notch.”
They are terrified of being sent to Iraq, which for them amounts to a death sentence.
“We cannot go back,” says Zhakou. “Sending us back to Norway means sending us back to Iraq. This means that we will be in danger, our family will be in danger. I am not ready to go back to the same problem we left everything for.”
Friends of the family say the Sabres are incredibly distressed right now, but have no interest in resisting the police or protesting the decision of immigration authorities. However, they are seeking recourse in the form of legal help, and are currently looking for representation in the hopes that they can have their case appealed.
Supporters of the family will soon be starting a collection for the family’s legal fund. We will keep readers updated on how and where to donate when that information is available.
You can listen to the family tell their story in their own words in this short video, taken by Aishling Muller:
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