UPDATED: Norwegian police to deport acclaimed immigrant as soon as possible / News / The Foreigner

The Foreigner UPDATED: Norwegian police to deport acclaimed immigrant as soon as possible. Immigration authorities in Lillehammer have arrested a Caucasian immigrant academic and prizewinner after turning down her final application for asylum. “Maria Amelie”, as she is known, was walking outside the Fridtjof Nansen Norwegian Humanistic Academy late last night after holding a lecture there. Eight officers from the Police Immigration Service (PU) in civilian clothing approached her, bundling her in the back of a black van. “We were surprised by the force of the police, and the dramatic way in which she was arrested seemed very unnecessary, to say the least. We have been trying to change her “paperless” status for six months,” her lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, tells The Foreigner.

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UPDATED: Norwegian police to deport acclaimed immigrant as soon as possible

Published on Thursday, 13th January, 2011 at 14:22 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 26th January 2011 at 21:59.

Immigration authorities in Lillehammer have arrested a Caucasian immigrant academic and prizewinner after turning down her final application for asylum.



Against the odds

“Maria Amelie”, as she is known, was walking outside the Fridtjof Nansen Norwegian Humanistic Academy late last night after holding a lecture there. Eight officers from the Police Immigration Service (PU) in civilian clothing approached her, bundling her in the back of a black van.

“We were surprised by the force of the police, and the dramatic way in which she was arrested seemed very unnecessary, to say the least. We have been trying to change her “paperless” status for six months,” her lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, tells The Foreigner.

25-year-old “Maria” came to Norway with her parents nine years ago as a child. Her family had been on the run from Russian authorities for four years, having previously been refused political asylum in Finland. Their application for asylum in Norway was declined in 2002.

Despite having no legal right to stay in Norway, no identification, bank account, or social rights, she has a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

“She came to Norway when she was 16. Norwegian is her mother tongue, and she is fully-integrated into society in quite a unique way,” says Mr Risnes.

Acclaim

Her book recounting her experiences of how life is for an illegal immigrant, “Ulovlig norsk” (editor’s translation: “Illegally Norwegian”), was published last year, and “Maria” was awarded weekly news magazine Ny Tid’s (“New Time”) “Norwegian of the Year” prize.

The award is given to a person who has expanded the Norwegian public debate by taking a personal risk on behalf of themselves or others.

“There has been a long-running debate about how to define a Norwegian. Approximately four years ago, it was decided only an ethnic Norwegian could be classified as being one. The prize’s purpose is to expand that definition,” says Dag Herbjørnsrud, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief.

He sees last night’s arrest outside as being rather ironic. It took place in the year of Fridtjof Nansen’s 150th birth Centenary, and outside the institution dedicated to commemorating his work on human rights.

Mr Nansen was President of the Norwegian League of Nations Society, which spent approximately two years repatriating roughly 500,000 war prisoners from WWI.

“There aren’t many famous Norwegians in Europe. Mr Nansen saved approximately 300,000, some of which came from Caucasia. “Marie’s” arrest came just 12 days into the Year of Nansen, whom Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg hailed in his New Year’s speech,” he says.

Mr Herbjørnsrud believes what happened should make Norwegians stop and think about their heritage.

“We claim to be the intellectual descendants of a great figure, but Fridtjof Nansen is mainly remembered for his skiing abilities and crossing Greenland.”

Victim of fate?

At the beginning of this year, “Maria” published a chronicle in Aftenposten called “Ikke et menneske” (“Not a Person”), where she talked of her escape plans and ideas about going underground if her application was not approved.

“I believe this may have resulted in her possibly being the victim of an unfortunate governmental political decision,” says Dag Herbjørnsrud.

The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) turned down “Maria’s” final application for asylum yesterday. All refugees are forcibly deported if they do not leave voluntarily.

She now fears she could be persecuted, raped, or killed if she is returned to Russia, but the board does not share her opinion.

“The key issue from UNE's side is that she has no need of protection, and therefore not entitled to asylum. In addition, long-term illegal residence is not a type of connection that forms the basis for a permit. Hence, she is not granted residency on humanitarian grounds. She is thus, as she repeatedly has emphasized, a face that personifies what is customary in such cases,” it writes in a press statement.

Unmoved

“If people stay in Norway of their own free will there would be no need for the immigration authorities,” Pål K Lønseth, Deputy Minister (Statssekretær) at the Ministry of Justice tells The Foreigner.

However, Brynjulf Risnes believes authorities have made “Maria’s” case a matter of principle.

“They are saying they don’t make exceptions to the general rule if asylum seekers have no permit; that they cannot stay just by staying in Norway.

He also alleges they are breaching international law.

“Maria” came to Norway as a minor in conjunction with her parents, and cannot be held legally responsible. We think the immigration authorities’ decision to deport her is neither in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, nor does it conform to the UN General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he says.

At her hearing in Oslo District Court (tingrett) today, “Maria” was ordered to spend 14 days in Trandum asylum prison north of Oslo Gardermoen airport, and it is expected she will be deported back to Russia afterwards.

“From a political point of view, it is important to mention that people who have had their asylum applications turned down once and for all should preferably leave the country of their own free will. If they don’t, we shall remove them by force,” says Deputy Minister Lønseth.

“Maria” and her lawyer appealed the court’s decision on the spot.

Demonstrations organised by Amnesty International supporting her case took place today in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø.

A YouTube video of last night's arrest is below (in Norwegian).

Editor's note: Do you think it is right to deport Maria Amelie? Join our discussion forum, or register to comment underneath the article.


To view this video from Youtube you need to make sure Javascript is switched on and you have the Flash plugin





Published on Thursday, 13th January, 2011 at 14:22 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 26th January 2011 at 21:59.

This post has the following tags: mariaamelie, caucasian, immigrantdeportation, policeimmigrationservice, lillehammer, fridtjofnansen, brynjulfrisnes, nytid, dagherbjoernsrud, jensstoltenberg, paalloenseth, oslo.





  
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