Watch carefully the placard image; the contrast between the vegetating child in a dreamless sleep and the roused cat in a beautiful hat. A small kid who carried this in a demonstration that staged in Oslo got it all: better to be a CAT than a paperless CHILD in Norway (“Heller en KATT enn papirløs BARN i Norge!“)
This little child footnoted amazing quote to a story I have been preparing recently to narrate real life experience in Norwegian asylum camps. Surprisingly, I have titled this draft as Asylum Zoo: where two-feet Animals are housed for political exhibition, long before I reached the placard (slogan.) There are myriads of stories to write about refugee camps where humans are being caged and treated like two feet animals for years. In such a regimented environment, there is only one rule of life: the administrators do what they WANT and we, refugees, do what we MUST. If you ever question why, you will be answered something you do not want to hear: “we did not invite you to come here!”
I will publish this paper online the day I am done. Until then, if there is any remark I would like to make now: brothers and sisters, refugees all over Norway, there must be a time that we will be treated no more as non-person. That time shall not be tomorrow, not any other day but TODAY! Right today, we must start to pay whatever sacrifice to claim our natural, God-given right. Since we are alien on foreign land, no one is authorized to play us as pawns on a chess board.
When I gear back to the main theme of this paper, refugee women and paperless children, I prelude with my strong belief that human right should not be confused with political right. A citizenship grant to foreign parents or foreign born individuals is definitely a political issue that can be categorized as political. But, bearing a child and ensuring safe environment for the new born is a human right. Therefore, allowing some people more human right than others or defining human rights in political codes is amoral. Human rights always base itself on a strong foundation of equality. Everyone is as equal as anyone else. In the city of humanity, there is no privileged village for highborn community.
Every man has a country to belong and I do understand when Norwegian authorities curse refugees existence among them. Yet, humanity has no country or boundary. It is a RIGHT, not a LEGISLATION to differ across location. No one should be denied of human right for living on others land.
Even if I reserved zoo mannered camp life for a distinct page, here is one real incident that could be taken as a trailer for my coming-soon horror paper. Where I live in, local newspapers repeatedly accuse us (refugees) for stealing bikes from the community. They often report we take bikes parked on roads without the permission of owners. If that is the case, there is no doubt it is a theft; and I strongly denounce that. Whenever a bike is lost, the scale of the search and the value of the news on the local newspapers are almost comparable to the recent Malaysians Flight 370, which was carrying 239 people and suddenly disappeared from radar screens over Southeast Asia. It is a moral duty we, you and I, pause here to say: MAY GOD CONSOLE the victims’ family and friends!
I am not criticizing the local media to invest so much words and pages on a lost bike, or to report any illegal act. However, such a practice should not be followed only when refugees are suspected subjects. In 2009, one Friday afternoon, an Afghan boy was out in the city and had a clash with one local boy. The next day, at early morning around 02:30 a.m., a group of three local boys with daggers were raided the camp and banged doors; room by room, corridor by corridor. As they tried to find the Afghan boy, half of the refugees were awakened in the middle of our dream. When we opened the door, they just stared at our face and left to the next room as one of them murmuring – not this one. That morning, scared and angered refugees informed the camp about the raid and … thanks for the “balanced and ethical” journalists, unlike the lost bikes, this threat of murder did not fit the quality of news to be reported on their newspaper.
Why the boys were not arrested or at least questioned is beyond me. The only thing I know for sure is that if any one among us did something like this, they would lock us in jail and throw away the key into Norwegian Sea. But, locals who threaten us right at “our” door are immune from the same code of crime. Criminal laws that apply to “poor” refugees do not apply to “rich” citizens.
Having said this to show the partiality of the “law,” it has been years now since the Norwegian parliament launched paper-less politics war targeting children. These little ones and their mothers are my main concern today; and I have a few thought to share with the concerned policy makers.
Dear legislator, it might sound improper to base my argument on it but I feel impelled to remind you a verse from the most sacred book in traditional legislative offices and courts. The book that men and women, old and young, suspect and innocent, rich and poor, able and disabled, all people in general kiss or at least lay on hand in awe, in respect, to tell only the truth during trial – the Bible.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 1814
This verse still holds true for your earthly Kingdom that, in my opinion, there is no other country to act and live accordingly to a Christian principle than the one whose national flag carries a cross like emblem.
Of course, when it comes to children, whether it is the teachings of Buddha, the custom of Pagans, or the writings of Koran set down similar moral code. We are ordered to care and love our children, to respect and respond to their needs gently.
Your Honor, it is true that in such a secular world, gold has become god. However, still, we shall not value paper more than the flesh and blood of children. The asset of childhood shall not be recorded or analyzed on financial balance sheet as protection of children’s rights must take priority over economic figure.
I used to think that it would take: parenthood and fear of God in order to feel the sentimental love between a mother/father and her/his child. After watching the above picture, I disproved my own hypothesis, and shamefully understood how numb I was to fail, even being single, this invaluable love that can not be traded for the world.
Some Norwegian politicians need to stop for a while and think to draw a clear boundary between national economics and natural ethics. Because, humanitarian decisions require higher proportion of humanistic ingredient than budgetary expertise lest we undermine our cognitive (reasoning) value that differentiate us from ordinary animals.
Here, once again, let me be fool to ask where the world are the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with those white COBRA land cruisers on cutting edge suspension; driving fast and comfortable at home land as if third world’s bumpy roads are Formula 1 track. Why are they quite to arbitrate? Those international organizations running here and there, up and down, blasting at poor African governments to meet the rights and needs of children like UNICEF, Save the Children (Redd Barna?) Is it not their duty to interfere and help children when they suffer in a land that neither politics nor prayer does any good? If the right and safety of children is their founding objective, why are they short of help for those living on their own land, delivered in their own hospital at their own medics’ hand?
Now it seems to me that their affection to children is nothing but fiction if not “seduction.” About two decades ago, Jose Verbeek, the then Director of UNICEF Committee in the current hub of European Union – Belgium, was accused of using his privilege and trust to organize a child sex ring which operated profitably for many years. Even if he was arrested on charges of “indecency and incitement to the debauchery of Children,” on his appeal, the conviction was quashed on grounds of “insufficient evidence” after a two-year suspended sentence. Fortunately, another member of staff was sentenced for ten-years in prison after police discovered a photographic studio concealed in the basement of the building that housed the UNICEF committee’s offices. According to Police, the studio was used to take pornographic photographs of children – most of whom were from third world countries. The law enforcement has also seized more than 1000 pictures along with a mailing list of 400 names of wealthy clients in 15 European countries. (My source for this information is a book I read years back, Lords of Poverty. I must credit Graham Hancock.)
I have seen a nationally televised argument that criticized paperless pregnant women as if they do it (conceive a baby) for getting a permission to stay. Norway is one of the leading countries believed to be exceptionally democrat as women occupy large number of senior positions in government offices and private institutions. If women are praised for playing a role in politics that once have been thought unnatural, why is these refugee women are cursed today for bearing a child that have been natural since the genesis of humankind?
I found it completely unethical to interpret such a natural behavior in favor of asylum paper. We must be careful that a wrong interpretation could undermine the necessity of love between spouses to have a baby. This in return endangers the value of family, which is the foundation block for community and nation at a bigger picture. After all, to love and to be loved is a natural feeling not only for noble men and women, but also for ignoble people. We all are entitled to meet our biological needs in acceptable manner, without any restriction. Denying us identity is one thing, but damning our breeding right is the crime of all crimes. It is not up to the authorities in big office, but up to the Most High in heaven to limit or extend the frontier of life. No human, no nation, no religion, and no nothing has been chosen by God to be the giver or taker of life. This has never been the attitude of Norway in the past. It should not be now either.
For a woman that forced to cross so many borders on foot, for a woman who does not even ensured a flask of drinking water during weeks-long desert walk, contraceptive pill is nothing less than a luxury car. There is no logic to criticize these refugee women for being pregnant reaching at Norway or then after. At least, we can not deny the fact that they risk being raped or forced to have a sexual intercourse while on the run. Leave aside the arrogant-ruled deserts, even the law-bound Europe is full of individuals that recklessly fall to their hormonal desire over their ethical nature.
Some years ago, there was an Ethiopian girl whose case had been denied and forced to leave the refugee camp. The story of this unfortunate girl was a spotlight on the national TV. One day, a friend of mine who used to work in a local factory told me that his employer had seen this girl crying and pleading for help on a TV program and asked him about her status: how she was earning her life. My Ethiopian friend answered a local support group (a few volunteer Norwegian individuals) were trying their best to cover her living cost. Then, as my friend told me, his employer smiled and said “she is beautiful, if she starts to … on the street, tip me, I will try her.” Yes, this is what was said then, and still being done today. Honestly speaking, that acidic statement has cut a lifelong wound in my heart which I would never get heal over it. Right now, while I am writing her story, the screen of my notebook is overshadowed by her grief-burnt face, the face that I saw for the last time on the street with eyes growing dim by steamy tears. As said it above, forget the deserts, even here in the middle of the civilized world, some consider our case-rejected sisters as nothing more than a sex object.
Finally, there is still one thing I can not hide or deny. Of course, there are a number of Norwegian citizens who cry for the right of these unfortunate mothers and their children. Look the feature image for a reference. Time to time, I see these local citizens on the streets, demanding justice and equality for children regardless of their status. Unfortunately, they can not hold me back from writing what is in my record; because, individuals act of compassion or charity can not be a substitute for government’s injustice, its inhumane policy against the weak ones.
How insignificant my words could be for those who sit with absolute power, it is a moral duty for me to stand between paper-ism and humanism; to talk on behalf of the little ones until they grow big and strong to talk for themselves. I know definitely what it would cost me. Come what may, I am ready to pay. The Italian philosopher and poet Dante said “the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis.”
*the interpretation for the featured placard phrase is mine.
*feature image taken at a demonstration in Oslo, 22 March 2014.