Denmark: "Syria is not safe" nationwide demonstrations against return of Syrian refugees

Thousands of protesters are expected to turn up for demonstrations and protests in 25 cities across Denmark tomorrow to say no to the Danish government's withdrawal of residence permits for Syrian refugees.

It is difficult to comprehend how the Danish authorities have reached the conclusion that Damascus and the surrounding area are safe enough for asylum seekers to return to
Dan Hindsgaul, Acting SG of Amnesty International Denmark

Activists and organizations are now joining forces in a joint protest against the Danish government's plans for returns of Syrian refugees. Haifaa Awad, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, Dansk Flygtningehjælp Ungdom and Amnesty International Denmark convene demonstrations across the country on Wednesday.

The message is clear: The Danish government should immediately stop plans to withdraw Syrian residence permits.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees, including children, have been told by the Danish Immigration Service to return to Syria, assessing that Damascus and the surrounding areas are safe to return to. At least 39 Syrians have received their final assessment in the Refugee Board - and are now in a deportation position.

But Syria is far from a safe country. Although military hostilities have diminished in most of the country, Syrian citizens continue to risk persecution and human rights abuses - including in Damascus and the surrounding area.

"In Damascus, the Assad regime has consolidated its power now, not with bombs, but with horrific human rights violations, extremely arbitrary arrests and extensive torture laboratories. Can our Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen guarantee the lives of Syrian refugees when they cross the border when the UN and the United States cannot? " said activist, Dr Haifaa Awad.

Young people who have fled to Denmark, and - after a number of years here - have begun to dream in Danish, are now facing another violent trauma caused by Denmark's current deportation policy
Natasha Al-Hariri, Director of the Danish Refugee Council Youth.

For years, Amnesty International has documented gross and systematic human rights violations by the regime in Syria. The human rights organization is shocked by Denmark's unilateral action:

"It is difficult to comprehend how the Danish authorities have reached the conclusion that Damascus and the surrounding area are safe enough for asylum seekers to return to," said Dan Hindsgaul, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International Denmark.

"Our research shows that Syrians who have been send back are routinely subjected to interrogation by Syrian security forces. The security forces are known and notorious for being behind arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Wanting to send people back to such a risk is contrary to Denmark's human rights obligations.” 

"Denmark was once a pioneer internationally in the UN's protection of refugees. Now the Danish government, unlike all other countries, will send back Syrians and thus de facto legitimize President Assad's regime. We must say the opposite, and fortunately there are now also members of the Social Democratic governing party who are doing this,” said Secretary General of Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, Tim Whyte.

"Young people who have fled to Denmark, and who after a few years in the country, have begun to dream and think in Danish, are now facing another violent trauma caused by the Danish government's current deportation policy. No one should be deported to the same dictator that they fled from,” said Natasha Al-Hariri, Director of DFUNK - Danish Refugee Council Youth.

For further information please contact: mhaakansson@amnesty.dk