From Iceland — VIDEO: Trans Refugee Supporters Temporarily Blockade Traffic, Brief Tussle Ensues

VIDEO: Trans Refugee Supporters Temporarily Blockade Traffic, Brief Tussle Ensues

Published February 18, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Andie Sophia Fontaine

Roughly 50 people converged on the Ministry of Justice today to hand over a petition, with over 7,500 signatures at the time of this writing, calling upon the Icelandic authorities to grant asylum to a trans teen and his family who face imminent deportation.

Shortly thereafter, the group marched from the Ministry to nearby Hverfisgata, and formed a blockade across the street, stopping traffic in both directions. As can be seen on the video below (direct link), one bus driver was particularly annoyed with the disturbance. He pulled his bus right up to the line of people, leaning on his horn repeatedly. At one point, a passenger disembarked and began shoving some of the protesters, none of whom engaged in retaliation against the man. Shortly thereafter, the crowd dispersed, and traffic flowed again without incident.

As reported, the trans boy in question, Maní, and his family fled Iran in February 2019 and went to Portugal. Stundin reports that just two days later, the family received word that they were being sought for arrest by Sepah, also known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Not wanting to take any chances, they left Portugal came to Iceland in March 2019, seeking asylum here.

However, because Portuguese authorities gave the family a travel visa, Icelandic authorities declined to open their case and instead invoked the Dublin Regulation, an international agreement which gives signatory states the right – although not the obligation – to return asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure. The regulation is a controversial one, as it has created bottlenecks at asylum seeker entry points across Europe. Germany, for example, has already agreed to stop evoking the regulation for Syrian refugees.

Furthermore, the decision is in direct contravention of both Icelandic law on the rights of the child, Article 1 of which states “The best interests of the child should always take precedence when making decisions about their issues”, and also contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iceland is a signatory country.

The deportation decision was strongly condemned by the National Queer Organisation, Trans Iceland, No Borders Iceland and thousands of other Icelanders.

While the deportation has been temporarily postponed, as Maní was admitted to the children and teenager psychiatric ward of Landspítali hospital, having had a mental breakdown due to the impending deportation, Icelandic authorities have yet to give any indication that they intend to change the deportation as planned. As it stands now, he and his family are set to be deported as soon as he is released from hospital.

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