A massive outpouring of support took place in Trondheim, Norway on 3 October 2017 when over 1,000 high school students protested against the government’s threat to deport one of their classmates, Taibeh Abbasi, to Afghanistan. This is the emotional speech she made at the demo.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all those who have come today.
I have been unsure of my future for a long time.
I did not know what would happen – in a week, in a month or in a year. That uncertainty broke me every single day.
That doesn’t not mean I got weaker. I got stronger!
And that strength I have gained through schooling.
For five years I have gained a lot of knowledge. And this knowledge has helped me to continue fulfilling my dreams.
I’m the girl who always dreamed of going to school.
I am the girl who was treated unfairly for many years when I lived in Iran.
I used to stand in the window and look at the Iranian girls going to school.
My biggest dream was to be in their shoes, to gain knowledge and an education.
I dreamed of learning how to hold the pencil right and to write the letters correctly. So I and my brothers sat at home reading books.
Afghan refugees in Iran have virtually no rights. I remember how painful it felt that my brothers weren’t allowed to play football with the Iranian boys, they had to wear a different jersey and use another ball.
I’m the girl who walked on by foot through the mountains and crossed borders to get to a better life.
Norway was a country far away. But we were welcomed at the start. I liked Norway, even though I missed my mother and my little brother.
I was relieved. I felt that here, I have a future.
I absorbed every impression, the language, knowledge, the way of life. The other boys at the [asylum reception] centre got tired of me being so engaged.
I was experiencing coming to a country with many possibilities. A country with a future for me.
In recent years my family and I have lived in Trondheim.
We feel like a part of society here, at school, at the football pitch, at work and in the mosque.
We have many friends.
We have done what the Norwegian state has asked us to do: We have become integrated!
The asylum process has been hard for our family.
In recent years – since our right to remain was recalled – we have lived in constant uncertainty.
The night when the police came for the first time to throw us out of the country, did something to me as a human being.
It showed us a new side of Norway that I would have liked to be without. My mum got sick. My brothers were terrified and sleep badly at night. My days and my nights became dark.
I lost the strength I had gained through going to school and feeling like everyone else.
I’m proud that we are still standing here today!
My big brother has completed high school and has a good job.
I’m in my last year at Thora Storm [high school] and my little brother has many friends and is such a good football player that he has played for the Trøndelag regional team.
We have many friends who we know care about us, and who we care about.
In Kabul there is no future for me and my brothers.
We are going to a country we have never been to.
Once again we will be exposed to discrimination and physically feel what it is like to be an exposed minority.
We are not going to have a peaceful life.
We are not going to have a life at all.
I as a girl am particularly exposed. My dreams of an education and a career will be broken.
I have become a resource for Norwegian society.
I as an independent woman will have to submit to a male-dominated society.
In Afghanistan today, children and especially girls are kidnapped, raped, forced to marry, abused and other terrible things.
If I’m sent back, I could become one of them. My brothers also feel Norwegian. They see a dark future in Afghanistan.
We are touched and grateful for all the support and care we have received and continue to receive!
A special thank you to the students in the demonstration group who started this voluntarily and by themselves, for all that they have done for me and my family.
Thank you to everyone at Thora and Rosenborg [high schools] who gave us hope and strength.
Thanks to the football team in Vestby and to our good friends and supporters. Thank you to all of you!
So please Norway:
Do not send me and my family to Afghanistan!
Let us have a peaceful life in Norway!
Give us a future!
Amnesty published research on 4 October 2017, the day after Taibeh made this speech, showing how European governments, including Norway, have forced almost 10,000 Afghan asylum-seekers to go back, risking torture – even death. The campaign to stop their deportation continues.