By Usam Baysayev (Memorial), special to Prague Watchdog
Figures I have received from a Norwegian human rights organization do not make encouraging reading for Chechens hoping to emigrate to Norway. According to these estimates, in the first six months of 2009 Norway’s migration authorities (UDI and UNE) reviewed 241 "Chechen" cases. 151 of these were straightforward rejections, but in 89 cases the rejections were masked by the so-called “Dublin II” decree, which stipulates that if applicants have entered another EU country before entering Norway, they may be sent back there. Most often the other country is either Poland or the Czech Republic with their refugee camps and a very high probability of deportation to Mother Russia.
The view of the situation in the Chechen Republic taken by the Norwegian migration authorities is, to say the least, a curious one. One refugee (I am not authorized to reveal his name, nor those of others) confessed openly in his interview that he had taken part in fighting against the Russian army from the autumn of 1999 until March 2000 and was now being persecuted by the authorities because of this. The Norwegian migration office based its decision to reject his asylum application on the grounds that "... this refugee is not at risk of being persecuted if he returns to Chechnya. He did his service a long time ago. It lasted a short time and was part of a general mobilization. He was an ordinary soldier, and... did not hold a leading position or participate in military action in such a way that he would have been conspicuous.”
The words that catch one’s eye here are "service", "soldier", “military” and "mobilization". Even people who are not too well-informed will surely be aware that there was no “mobilization” in Chechnya, and that, accordingly, none of those who fought for independence served in regular military units. It is therefore not correct to describe them as “soldiers” in the ordinary sense of the term. The members of the Chechen armed units were irregulars who took up arms to defend their own beliefs, and not as a result of any general mobilization. They were volunteers, though of a special kind. In today's Chechnya, this man’s membership of the resistance, even for only a short period, is in itself seen as evidence of commitment to certain political views – in this case, separatist ones which violate the legal constitution of the Russian Federation. Within the Russian legal framework his actions are therefore criminal, and require that he should be got out of the way.
It is, however, almost impossible to explain this to the Norwegian migration authorities. Norwegians find it hard to imagine, for example, that a man who has been convicted and has served time in prison for "aiding" the militants may be arrested a second time for the same offence. One refugee, who described the violent deaths of five members of his family, was told by a migration official: “But you weren’t killed, so why did you become a refugee?” In another case, the grounds for rejection were details that did not match in the applicant’s account of his detention in prison. He could not remember it exactly, because the minutes of torture he suffered had turned into a single undifferentiated mass, a nightmare that was not measurable in the parameters of normal human time. He was set free with severe concussion, several broken fingers, and a permanent and almost complete loss of hearing in one ear. His story was not believed, his asylum application was rejected, and I think he has now been expelled from the country.
Norway has had enough of refugees, especially our kind, who sometimes engage in mass brawls between Muslim gangs. To come here today means to condemn yourself to exhausting interrogations which are conducted with only one purpose – to find a discrepancy in your story, any detail that will justify the denial of asylum. But those who want to will come anyway. One word of advice, however: do not forget that Norway is a country for Norwegians. Be ready to be shown the door at any moment. Hospitality and charity are good things in relations between people, but politics as a rule tends to ignore them. The regulation of migration flows is a major political issue in Europe. That is something that needs no explanation.
P.S. I do not yet have complete and accurate information about the situation, and therefore I may be wrong about some details. However, I believe that the problem is as I have described it in this article.
Photo: "Wonk Room".
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