Published June 19, 2018
Icelanders, upset at US policy of separating children from asylum seeker parents at the border with the country, are starting to speak up to the US embassy in Reykjavík. They have also organised a more broad-based protest for this Thursday.
The whole world has been watching events unfold in the US, as the children of asylum-seekers are being separated from their parents at the border, with the children put in cages and these asylum seeker parents arrested and taken into custody for what has always been a misdemeanor offense — a policy that comes directly from the Trump administration, and has been heavily criticised as violating international and US law, which in part expressly forbids arresting asylum seekers at the border and separating them from their children.
While being much discussed in Iceland, Icelanders themselves have now decided to take action. Journalist and writer Illugi Jökulsson made a post on Facebook about the matter, encouraging people to leave a comment on the cover photo for the US Embassy in Reykjavík. Many of these Icelanders are leaving the same comment, which reads:
“To the staff of the American embassy in Reykjavik.
It is with sadness and horror that I have followed what is happening on the USA’s borders these last few days. Children have been separated from their parents with no regard for their well-being.
This is obviously not in accordance with any laws, in spite of President Trump’s efforts to convince people of that.
Above all, this is completely at odds with the ethics and the morality that we in Iceland endeavour to follow and Americans have up to now also prided themselves on being guided by.
That such an abomination is now practiced in the world’s most powerful democracy is tragic, shocking and reprehensible.
It is my sincere hope that Americans can find it in their hearts to stop this immediately.”
The matter does not end there, either, as now a protest demonstration has been planned for this Thursday at 17:00 at Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament. The purpose of this protest is not only to denounce US policy, but also to demand a more humane refugee policy for Iceland and the European continent as a whole. From there, protesters will lead a candlelight procession to the US embassy.
“The procession is not just a protest against the inhumane US policy towards refugees from South America,” the mission statement reads in part. “The procession also demands a human policy in both the United States and Europe. In Italy, rescue ships have been forbidden from coming into harbours; in Greece, refugee camps are fenced in. This is an international problem that we, as a Schengen country, need to shoulder responsibility for. One reason why we march now is the US treatment towards parents and children. We march for a more humane world. A world where ships are not turned away from ports and where children are not locked in cages.”