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Open letter to MPs.

Swedish version

Today, September 13 the Swedish parliament reconvenes. You who return to your seats will pass by a group of demonstrators outside. They are people affected by the temporary asylum law, the sabotaging of refugees’ attempts to obtain security in Sweden.

Look them in the eye. Please explain why you thought it was a good idea to provide them with more insecurity - retroactively. The demonstrators came to Sweden before any restriction to the law was planned. But asylum seekers cannot choose their country of asylum.

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The temporary law means temporary permits, divided families, more rejections of the traumatized and the unaccompanied minors ... Approximately 12,000 unaccompanied children are expected to be deported within a couple of years (= become undocumented instead of being students).

I understand that some of you had wished to vote against the law, but could not go against the party whip. It is hard to vote based on one’s conviction when it leads to being left out in the cold politically.

Others have their difficult choices to make. This very day, a father must decide whether he should leave his children in a shelter or a refugee camp, and say, "I am leaving home so that you can come to me." with the risk that they may never see each other again.

This very day a mother has to choose whether she will let her eldest child flee so as to avoid being recruited by a heinous militia, to avoid being imprisoned like their father, not to become cannon fodder, but lead a normal life. This very day a mother does not want to think about the unscrupulous robber or border guards her eldest  child will meet on the road, or what he will do to survive. She knows that there are no good choices. She just wants to get that call; "Mom, I'm safe now, don’t cry anymore."

In Turkey, a journalist chooses whether he should dare to write the truth about the president.

Now the parliamentary year is in session, and you face new elections. Are you going to pretend that nothing happened and allow the EU to continue to trade refugees with Turkey? Will you continue pretending that disasters in Syria and Iraq do not exist? That undocumented youngsters from Iran can be deported to Afghanistan and everything will be fine? The fact that other EU countries will take the responsibility that Sweden will not take? Continue to pretend that refugees have a choice?

You have promised me that my pension, my health and my adult children's working conditions will be saved if more refugees are not admitted.

But that's not true. Sweden's economy is thriving, thanks to refugees and other immigrants.

If there is anyone who is doing Swedes out of their hard-won standards, it is you, when you decided that the ability of asylum seekers to obtain permanent protection will depend on employability, not protection.

This year's homework assignment for you as Member sof Parliament is: to evaluate the impact of the temporary law. You just need to stop turning a blind eye. Asylum seekers, journalists and NGOs will provide you with the facts.

When many asylum seekers came last autumn civil society was there. You saw us as part of the disorder and wanted to contain the refugees to save them from us and us from them. Yet churches, mosques and cultural centres opened their doors.

Now civil society is facing new challenges. To learn how to use international law when Swedish laws let us down. To pursue integration when your decisions have undermined integration. To continue to be there when people are cast out on the streets. We will preserve the solidarity that has been struck out of the statute books through our actions until it is time to reinstate it into the law.

Societies are built by people, not by walls. You are welcome to join us. You can start by reinstating permanent residence permits.

Sanna Vestin and Michael Williams

(Chairman and vice chairman of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, FARR)


Read more about the temporary law

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