Three protesters were arrested in front of Parliament yesterday, despite parliamentary staff saying these protesters were not hindering access to the building. Videos taken at the scene shows police arresting one person for suggesting the police also give their orders in English.
Yesterday, the refugees and their supporters who had been camped out in front of Parliament for nearly a week in the hopes of having a conversation with any elected official decided to disperse, citing inclement weather and physical threats from some of the locals.
In a last-ditch effort to prompt any member of Parliament to speak with them, a number of these protesters assembled peaceably both at the entrance to Parliament and the entrance to the building’s parking lot. They hindered no one’s access to either—a fact that was confirmed by parliamentary staff and other witnesses.
Nonetheless, police soon arrived on the scene and began to push the protesters, ordering them to disperse, in Icelandic. However, as not everyone present understands Icelandic, one of the protesters asked police to also speak English, so that everyone could understand the police orders. Instead, the person making this suggestion was arrested, along with two others. (Article continues after video)
In related news, representatives of the police are to sit before the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee to answer questions about their previous use of force against these protesters, Vísir reports. As reported, despite assembling peaceably in numbers no greater than a couple dozen at most, police deployed pepper spray and used a level of force usually reserved for crowds of thousands. The incident was captured on video, and showed the police initiating the conflict, in some cases spraying refugees as they were trying to retreat.
While RÚV reports that these three were since released, one of the protesters of the original group is conspicuously absent: Aimal, a refugee from Afghanistan, who has been one of the most vocal advocates for refugee rights in Iceland. He was arrested yesterday during his routine check-in with the police, and is slated for deportation.
You can watch a short video below where he speaks from his lived experience:
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