Refugees will march tomorrow from the Ásbrú shelter in Keflavík to Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament in Reykjavík.
The event begins tomorrow morning at 8:15 and is expected to last until 20:30 that evening. The choice of Ásbrú as a starting point is deliberate, as the shelter has been criticised as being especially isolating. In fact, the Grapevine has found that Icelandic prisons are better than refugee shelters in terms of services available and the rights afforded to the people living there.
“For over 2 months the refugees in Iceland have been writing letters, protesting on the streets and occupying the parliament square – all the time asking for a beginning of negotiations with the Minister of Justice in order to put forward their demands,” the event text reads in part. “The only reaction of [Minister of Justice] Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadottir has been a public statement that ‘it is impossible to stop deportations due to international commitments’ and a letter stating that a half an hour meeting that took place 2 months ago is enough and no further one will take place in the near future.”
Þórdís Kolbrún became Minister of Justice after the resignation of Sigríður Á Andersen, and since then, organisers say, “while the Minister of Justice chooses silence and inertia, the recent weeks have brought new deportations to Italy and Greece, multiple suicidal attempts in camps under the Immigration Office, the police illegally attempting to deport an asylum seeker from a psychiatry ward, new dismissals of Dublin cases despite people having gotten their negative elsewhere – effectively meaning deportation towards danger – and it is just the things that we know of.”
The hope is strong that when the refugees arrive at Austurvöllur, they will not be met by the same level of unprecedented police violence that they experienced last time, when police attacked protesters unprovoked, using pepper spray even on people attempting to flee the scene.
The actual demands of the refugee protesters are fairly simple. As the event details, their demands are the following:
1. No more deportations – starting with the end of deportations to Italy and Greece as those countries are overloaded with people seeking asylum and in consequence – people are pushed towards life on the streets.
2. Substantial review for all – starting with asylum seekers that got their negative elsewhere – otherwise they get deported further to their countries of origin – and towards persecution and death.
3. The right to work. We want to get the work permit along with temporary kennitala while we wait for the decision from immigration office. We want to work!
4. Equal access to healthcare. Everybody should get their medical needs met, be it physical or psychological. Currently immigration office in Iceland denies many refugees the right to a suitable healthcare.
5. Closing down of the isolated refugee camp in Ásbrú, Keflavík. It is psychologically devastating to be kept in isolation in Ásbrú. In less then one week two people in Ásbrú have tried to commit suicide.
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