Several major human rights groups were planning more protests during the weekend to demonstrate the plight of undocumented workers in Norway (called “papirløse,” literally “paperless.”) Meanwhile, the government moved forward on Friday with plans to slightly ease the rules for them, but Norway’s most popular paperless worker still faced deportation.
Nearly 30 organizations were mounting protests due to begin at 1pm on Saturday in Oslo’s main public square known as Youngstorget. From there demonstrators planned to march to the Parliament building (Stortinget), where there would be more appeals and music.
Among the 28 organizations participating were the Norwegian state church, Save the Children (called Redd Barna in Norway), Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Speakers included former government minister Åse Kleveland, representing Human-Etisk Forbund (The Humanist Association) and Dag Hareide of Nansenskolen.
The protests are the latest response to the pending deportation of Maria Amelie, a refugee from North Ossetia who was turned down for asylum but continued to live and go to school in Norway. Many now credit her with giving the undocumented workers in Norway new attention and sympathy.
The government went ahead with plans reported earlier this week to slightly ease the rules applying to illegal aliens. The changes are expected to remove a lengthy ban on re-entering Norway legally and in Amelie’s case, would allow her to apply for legal work permission from abroad and probably return to Norway relatively quickly since she already has a firm job offer at a salary of more than NOK 500,000 a year. Foreigners seeking work permission in Norway are normally required to seek permission from their home countries, before arriving in the country.
Amelie, however, continues to fight against her looming deportation and maintains it will be dangerous for her to return to Russia. Reports that it should be safe for her in North Ossetia were refuted, as new details regarding her family’s struggle against aggressive creditors in North Ossetia in the late 1990s emerged on Thursday, raising hopes that immigration authorities in Norway might halt her deportation.
A journalist for ITAR-TASS news service in Russia wrote on her blog that she couldn’t understand why the Norwegian government doesn’t think Amelie will be danger in Russia. “They can’t be sure (her family’s) creditors won’t plague her,” wrote journalist Madina Sagejeva, according to Norwegian news bureau NTB. “They maybe don’t think that a debt of several million dollars is enough to put someone’s life in danger, but in Russia people think differently.”
Amelie’s lawyer forwarded what he called a confirmation of Amelie’s fears to the authorities, in a last-ditch effort to get them to change their minds and at least suspend her deportation.