Iceland Deports 180 Venezuelans

Keflavík Airport

The Icelandic authorities deported 180 Venezuelans earlier this week who had come to the country seeking asylum. They received a cold welcome when they landed in Venezuela, according to those interviewed by Heimildin. The fight was carried out by Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration and the European border agency Frontex.

One of the Venezuelans who was deported from Iceland stated that the group was stopped at the airport and their money was taken from them. The group was reportedly received by police and taken to a building where they were required to stay for the next two days. People from the group have been interrogated repeatedly and made to sign numerous documents without legal assistance, according to Heimildin’s sources.

Venezuelans no longer given additional protection

For several years, the Icelandic government provided additional protection to almost all Venezuelans who sought asylum here due to the poor conditions in Venezuela. Earlier this year, the Immigration Appeals Board upheld several negative rulings by the Directorate of Immigration involving Venezuelans.

Venezuelans have strongly protested this, as conditions in Venezuela are still very bad. Few people have access to health care and most ordinary citizens have difficulty meeting their basic needs. The crime rate in Venezuela is one of the highest in the world.

Stricter legislation passed

The number of asylum applications by Venezuelan citizens in this country has grown enormously in recent years – they went from 14 in 2018 to 1,209 in 2022. Between January and September of this year they numbered 1,318. After the Immigration Appeals Board confirmed the negative rulings of the Directorate of Immigration, the number of applications began to decrease.

Human rights organisations have criticised the Icelandic government for increasingly harsh legislation on asylum seekers. Legislation passed in Iceland’s Parliament last spring strips asylum seekers of essential services after their applications have received a final rejection, unless they consent to deportation. Iceland’s current Justice Minister Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir has proposed establishing detention centres for asylum seekers.

Authors Boycott Iceland Noir Over Clinton’s Involvement

icelandic true crime

Approximately 60 authors will be boycotting the Iceland Noir literary festival over guest of honour Hillary Clinton, citing her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The authors’ letter condemns Clinton’s actions and the festival’s perceived political alignment.

“Publicly opposed to a ceasefire”

Approximately 60 authors have decided to boycott the Iceland Noir literary festival and encourage others to do the same. The reason behind the boycott is the participation of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the festival as a guest of honour. Among the authors that are boycotting the festival are Hallgrímur Helgason, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, and Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia.

Read More: IR speaks to Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia

“Hillary Clinton publicly opposes a ceasefire in the ongoing genocide by the Israeli army in Palestine. For years, she has also used her broad platform to spread the propaganda of the Israeli government and false information, causing harm to the Palestinian people,” an open letter signed by the authors reads.

“By inviting her, the Iceland Noir festival took a stand, and by standing by that invitation, the festival underscored its political stance, associated with war crimes and genocide,” the statement continues. “When children are fighting, one child murdered every ten minutes, there is no time to exchange views or engage in debate. Only the stance itself matters and therefore we urge you to:

  • Take a clear stand against war crimes and genocide.
  • Refrain from participating in the whitewashing of the Israeli government and its supporters.
  • Not undermine the human rights struggle of the Palestinian people.
  • Support a free Palestine!

The statement notes that the boycott is a peaceful method aimed at expressing moral and political disapproval of the actions of individuals or institutions that harm others. It is not intended as a personal attack on the organisers or sponsors of the festival.

Intended to be a “non-political” festival

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, who organises the event alongside Ragnar Jónasson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Sverrir Norland, expressed regret and understanding in the face of the boycott:

“We decided that this would be a great opportunity to invite Hillary, who is remarkable but not without controversy. So we decided to hold this special event. She is not actually at the festival itself; this is a separate event. But it’s terrible. We are completely sorry that our initiative to hold a literary festival is being dragged into conflicts that we all, of course, want to see de-escalated immediately,” Yrsa observed.

She fully understands the stance of those who protest.

“One understands that people want to do something. But I’m not sure if our small initiative is the venue to change anything in these matters. But maybe not everyone agrees on that,” she remarked. “This is supposed to be a non-political festival. And I think that most of those who participate disagree with her [Clinton] about the ceasefire, and so do the ticket holders. We don’t ask people about their politics when we are selecting participants for the festival.”

Minister to Introduce Relief Bill for Grindavík Workers

Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources

A bill for temporary support for wage earners in Grindavík will be presented by Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market. The bill, inspired by COVID-19 relief measures, aims to secure the livelihood of those impacted by the town’s evacuation.

Process expedited

Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, will introduce a bill on temporary support for wage earners in Grindavík at a government meeting today. The bill aims to ensure the livelihood of employees of those businesses in Grindavík that have had to close due to the town’s evacuation amid ongoing geological unrest.

As noted by RÚV, the bill is based on measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic when the state financed the salary payments of those in quarantine. The payments will be capped at a certain maximum (during COVID, the maximum daily payments amounted to ISK 21,100 [$150/€138]). It is not yet clear whether the amount will be the same in the Social Affairs Minister’s bill.

“The objective of the bill is to ensure the livelihood of employees of those businesses in Grindavík that have had to close due to the situation. The goal is to reduce uncertainty among those facing loss of income and to protect the employment relationship,” Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, stated in an interview with RÚV.

Having been introduced to the coalition government, the bill is expected to be presented to Parliament next week to ensure that measures can be implemented before the end of the month. Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that it was important to process the bill quickly:

“It is of immense importance that we can clearly communicate to the people of Grindavík that their financial security will be ensured for the coming months and that this resolution will be available in good time by the end of the month,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir remarked.

Select residents allowed re-entry

In an ongoing effort to allow residents to retrieve valuables from the town, the authorities have contacted those residents of Grindavík who will be allowed to enter the town today, starting at 9 AM. Businesses will be permitted re-entry after 2 PM. As noted by RÚV, electricity was restored to the eastern part of Grindavík in the afternoon yesterday following repairs.

Kristín Jónsdóttir, Head of the Department of Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Deformation at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told reporters earlier this week that she believed an eruption would occur in the coming days; volcanic gas was detected within a borehole at the Svartsengi Power Plant yesterday. The end of the borehole extends close to a spot in the earth’s crust where the magma conduit is believed to be located. The gas is considered confirmation that magma is present north of Hagafell, as models have indicated.

Deep North Episode 52: The Awful Icelandic Language

icelandic flag

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this different and fun archival piece for the annual Icelandic Language Day. In this 1973 article, an Irish student at the University of Iceland laments the difficulties of learning Icelandic. We dust off this article and see what’s changed, and what hasn’t, about learning Icelandic.

Read the original archival article here.