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Photo: Golli.

Protests in Front of Parliament in Wake of Deportations

Protestors last week flocked to Austurvöllur square in front of Iceland’s parliament in response to the recent deportation of Icelandic refugees.

The protests took place Thursday, November 3, and Sunday, November 6 with some thousand people in attendance.

The recent wave of deportations is the largest in recent history in Iceland, with some refugees being deported as their applications for asylum status were still under consideration by the Directorate of Immigration.

Isavia, the company responsible for running Keflavík International Airport, has also come under critique for its involvement in the deportations.

The Journalists’ Association of Iceland has accused Isavia of obstructing the work of journalists covering the deportations, turning floodlights against a crowd of reporters.

Isavia has published a statement regretting their involvement, saying that they were following police instructions, who requested that Isavia staff prevent filming of the deportations.

The above video from Pirate Party MP Gísli Ólafsson shows a glimpse of the crowd present at the Thursday protests.  

Icelandic police forces have also faced criticism for their treatment of the deported individuals, with one video showing a refugee man being forcefully removed from his wheelchair.

According to Icelandic police, they are now considering having vehicles more suitable for wheelchairs.

Further critique has been raised by the confiscation of refugees’ phones.

Icelandic police state that the refugees’ phones were taken from them in order to ensure their safety.

Helgi Valberg Jensson, Chief Legal Office of the National Police, stated to Vísir: “We had individuals in custody, and it was our duty to ensure their safety.  Whether this needs to be revised is something we will consider moving forward.”

Police body cameras were also reported to have been turned off during portions of the raids. Helgi has stated that this for the privacy of individuals who may feel uncomfortable.

Among the critics of the recent deportations are the United Nations Children’s Fund in Iceland, the Icelandic branch of Amnesty International, the Disabled Persons’ Association, the Red Cross in Iceland and the Icelandic Teachers’ Association.

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