Sweden: Stop Sending LGBTQ Refugees Into Danger!
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I'm writing this on behalf of two friends I met in Turkey. They were roommates in Turkey, having met through the queer refugee community which is growing in Istanbul. They are both in extreme danger because the Swedish government has decided to force them back to Greece, where they face daily discrimination and violence from the police and community.
Suma, an Egyptian Trans woman, was a natural leader of the community. She reorganized their formal discussion group and worked to get benefits for the members who were often discriminated against and found it difficult to find work, even illegally, because employers refused to hire them. She had overcome a history of extreme discrimination in Egypt and Kuwait, where she'd worked, surviving an extremely abusive father, a murder attempt by the Egyptian police, and the murder of her close friend and business partner. When she received word that the police were looking for her again, she knew this was it. She packed up what she could and fled her friends and chosen family to start a new life.
Hussam, a Syrian gay man, was the life of the party in the community, always dancing and ready with a joke to cheer people up. He was forced to flee Syria when the war broke out. He left his friends and family to register as a refugee with the UN in Istanbul and request relocation. He arrived in Istanbul where he met Suma and they decided to live together with two other roommates in a small apartment with no support from the government and having to hide as much as possible from the neighbors, who had begun to complain about the "feminine men" to the building management.
They waited for months in Istanbul, every day facing danger from transphobic and homophobic locals. Around the same time that a friend of theirs, a gay Syrian man, was tortured, mutilated, and beheaded in a neighborhood near theirs, they decided to flee to Greece. They took one of the dreaded boats to a Greek island and were immediately put in jail. A men's jail. Even Suma, who is a woman. She faced violent harassment from the inmates there and when they were released, they were forced into a men's refugee camp which was not much better. The conditions were similar to Istanbul, and every day they feared for their lives.
I was extremely happy to hear that they were finally able to get to Sweden in the end.
The Swedish government DEPORTED Hussam back to Greece, saying his life was not in danger and that he would be protected by the Greek authorities, ignoring his ACTUAL EXPERIENCE of ZERO protection in Greek jail and refugee camps. Three days ago he was attacked on the street by men with a knife. Bloody and terrified, he recounted the words of the Swedish authorities: the Greek police will protect you. THIS. IS. A. LIE.
Now, Suma has also been told she has not qualified for asylum in Sweden and will be deported back to Greece as well. Her life is now also in danger. I am asking you to join me in demanding that the Swedish government recognize the error of their ways and bring Hussam back with full apologies and support, and decide against deporting Suma! There is only ONE moral choice for the Swedish government.
Stefan Löfven: don't put my friends back in harm's way, asylum now!!
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