Thousands of Norwegians took to the streets around the country over the weekend, to protest the government’s so-far unwavering demand that children of parents who have had their asylum applications rejected be returned to their parents’ homeland.
For the government, it’s a matter of principle. Just because the parents mounted lengthy appeals that dragged on for years, meaning that their children have been growing up in Norway, doesn’t mean they can all be allowed to stay in Norway when their applications ultimately are rejected. The Norwegian Supreme Court also recently upheld the government’s right to deport the children and their families, ruling that the authorities had struck the right balance between following asylum regulations and acting in the children’s best interests.
Others view the deportation as “inhumane” and not at all what’s best for the children themselves, since Norway is the only country many have ever known. Police estimated that around 1,000 people marched in Oslo alone on Saturday, to protest what they consider a hard-hearted approach by the government that’s more in line with the conservative Progress Party’s policies than the government coalition’s left-center platform. Another major demonstration was held in Bergen.
Even several leading politicians in the Labour Party, which leads Norway’s government coalition, have joined the cry to allow the children to remain in Norway, as has the party’s youth organization AUF. Government officials weren’t budging Monday night, though, despite the massive protests.