SOS Against Racism

Noerre Allé 7

2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark







Copenhagen, April 19, 2010



Press Statement:


To the international press covering Denmark!



Seniors in Denmark protest in parliament against new severe restrictions proposed in Aliens' law


Denmark has the coolest seniors!
Grandparents for Asylum strike again: today they sang in parliament in protest over a new immigration law which (among many other things) makes it easier for the authorities to deport people and deny them asylum. The session was interrupted for ten minutes and the seniors taken to a police station. They will
be fined.


A short video-presentation from the demonstration by Grandparents for asylum in the Danish Parliament may be seen on this short video from Danish Radio update (DR-Update):{6C67C3B5-9473-4C7C-B0DE-D4A184A5EB2D}

Henrik Dam Kristensen of the Social-Democrats has pointed out that it is also the first law in the history of Denmark that reduces vote rights. Under current law, foreigners with a residence permit can vote in local and regional elections after three years in Denmark. According to the new law, they will get to vote after four years in Denmark.

Grandparents for asylum are basically a group of seniors who week after week meet to protest against Denmark's asylum policy in front of three asylum centres within one hours drive from Copenhagen:  Sandholm, Avnstrup and Kongelunden. They have also organised protests and other civic actions in the city as well as written a book about asylum seekers in Denmark.

The song they sang in parliament today was "Barndommens land" (Land of Childhood) by famous poet Benny Andersen. They sing it in front of the mentioned asylum centres. In these asylum centres live many rejected asylum seekers who have been living in Denmark up to 12 years, with or without children.


As a rejected asylum seeker in Denmark you live in a limbo without most human rights: no right to work, no right for adults for education, and you usually have to live in an asylum centre. Children have a right to education, but this will often be given in a centre school for asylum children the children have by law been exempted from the right to go to public schools in Denmark. After a few years in an asylum school, the children cannot learn much more there, at the same time only very few children are thaught their mother tongue.


The children are harmed by the institutionalisation of their lives and by living close and under very narrow circumstances with a lot of traumatised persons in refugee camps. After a long period with hopelessness, anxiety and nothing meaningful to do, many parents become mentally ill, and many will not be able to care for their own children. This is an important reason why 20 out of 21 Iraqi children who have lived in Denmark during many years have now mental problems like depression, apathy, anxiety, sleep disorders and suicidal thoughts. Most of them are in need of child psychiatric treatment - even if only two of them receive such treatment at present. In a Danish survey it was found that already after one year in the asylum system children had mental symptoms.


Minister of Integration Birthe Rønn Hornbech said the Grandparents showed "a complete lack of democracy", which is pretty interesting coming from a minister who is rushing this law through as much as she can, giving experts and NGOs no longer than six work days to comment on the new law (276 pages).

When The Danish Institute for Human Rights decided not to submit a comment because the deadline was completely unrealistic and that it was impossible to do a good job on such short notice, the minister accused the institute of "politicizing".


Protesting answers to new proposed restrictions in the alien's law: L187, L188 and L189 have been sent by a lot of NGO's, even if their chance of influencing the politicians is very meager. At the moment most Danish politicians find it more opportune to stick to a nationalist and xenophobic policy, addressed with the eufemistic description as a "fair and strict policy towards foreigners".


Danish asylum policy has earlier been seriously criticised by the LIBE Committee under the European Parliament. LIBE advised Denmark to give protective status to rejected asylum seekers who had lived many years in Denmark, but the Danish government did not wish to follow such advise. Denmark has also not followed the advices by the UNHCR not to refoule Iraqis, but to give them asylum according to the U N Convention of Refugees.


Anne Nielsen, Chairman,

SOS Against Racism, Denmark

Telephone: +45 42331968




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