From Iceland — One Hospitalised, Other Deported After Violent Arrest At Immigration Centre

One Hospitalised, Other Deported After Violent Arrest At Immigration Centre

Published July 8, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Refugees in Iceland

Of the two Palestinian men who were violently arrested last Tuesday at the immigration office at Bæjarhraun 18, one has since been deported to Greece, and the other was hospitalised from his injuries at the hands of police. Deportations to Greece remain possibly unlawful under international and Icelandic law, as conditions in that country—even for those granted “protection”—are inhumane and potentially life-threatening.

As reported, the two were called to report to the immigration office last Tuesday, told they were to pick up their vaccination certificates. Upon arrival, six police cars and special forces units immediately arrived on the scene to take both men into custody.

Police used great force in taking the men into custody, and reportedly seized a witness’ phone who was recording the incident, deleting the material (the above photos were taken by someone outside the room).

Beaten and injected with tranquilisers

Sources close to Grapevine now say that one of the two taken into custody has been deported to Greece. The other, Shoukri Abolebda, granted an interview to Mannlíf which contains graphic photos of the extent of his injuries.

Shoukri confirmed that he was called to the immigration office under false pretenses, and was violently set upon by police upon arrival. This event was especially traumatising for Shoukri in light of him being epileptic, a medical condition that his documentation confirmed immigration authorities in Iceland were aware of.

“My head was slammed onto the table and I was handcuffed with my hands behind my back,” he recounted. “At this point, I called on Ali [the interpreter on the scene] to help me, saying that he is aware of the problems with my head. I asked him to translate it for the police, but he just stood there and said nothing. I was terrified, it was a horrible situation to be tricked like this and so harsh violence. I’m also epileptic and this kind of condition can cause me to have seizures, Ali also knew that but did not say anything. As I struggled with fear, my head slammed was into the wall.”

Shoukri said that a man in a yellow vest injected him with something that caused him to lose consciousness. He awoke in a jail cell, and was injected again after he started to bang on the cell door. He was taken to the hospital in the interim. Upon awakening again, he told police he would leave the country voluntarily. He is set to be escorted to the airport by the police tomorrow morning, and from there, sent to Greece.

Deportations to Greece arguably unlawful, inhumane conditions await

As the Grapevine has reported, these deportations to Greece are not only highly contentious, but also quite possibly illegal. Article 42 on the Law on Foreigners specifically states “it is not permitted to send a foreigner or a stateless person to an area where he has reason to fear persecution” or other inhumane treatment. Numerous human rights orgs, as well as the personal accounts of refugees who were forced to stay in Greece, all attest that even those refugees granted “protection” in Greece face inhumane and degrading treatment.

Further, even refugees hoping to immigrate elsewhere in Europe are nonetheless forced to apply for asylum upon arrival in Greece.

“As soon as we landed [in Greece], we were told ‘You have two choices,’” one of the refugees the Grapevine spoke with explains. “‘You either claim asylum here, or you get sent back to Turkey.’ We took the asylum. We didn’t know what else to do. We got put in an isolated camp, fenced in and surrounded by armed guards, police or the military. It’s exactly like a prison.”

No protection

Being granted “international protection” in Greece, they say, offers nothing in terms of being able to have a normal life.

“In most European countries, when you get a residence permit, you get a chance to learn the language, integrate with society, learn about the culture—we had none of that,” another told us. “We were secluded all the time. Even after we got the permit, we had no idea what to do or where to go, we got no information.”

“In my opinion, deportations to Greece are unlawful under Icelandic law,” Ragnheiður Kristín Finnbogadóttir, a lawyer who wrote her Master’s thesis on Iceland’s immigration policies, told the Grapevine. “They’re not obliged to deport anyone, first of all. Second, you shouldn’t, if you know that the circumstances would provide for inhumane treatment. They say ‘this is all in accordance [with] the law, nothing to see here’, but when you look deeper, it’s not. The Dublin Regulation [is] not an obligation. You can always look further into their circumstances.”

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