Johannah Reimer, 17 January, 2011
Thousands of Norwegians are protesting the arrest and deportation of the 25-year old humanitarian activist Maria Amelie. Amelie was arrested by eight immigration officers, Wednesday evening at 11pm after giving a public lecture on the struggle of undocumented workers for being an ‘illegal’ resident.
Amelie, who ironically received the ‘Norwegian of the Year’ award from a local magazine, has lived a third of her life in Norway. At the age of twelve, Amelie was brought to Norway by her parents fleeing the corrupt governance of the former Soviet Caucasus region. They were first denied political asylum in Finland and again in Norway in 2002 yet they chose to go underground to survive.
Despite not having legal rights, Amelie became fluent in the language, went through the school system earning top marks, received a master’s degree (under an alleged false name), and contributed to Norwegian society. Last year, Amelie chose to go public unveiling her story of life as an undocumented ‘asylee’ in her book titled, ‘Ulovlig norsk’ (Illegally Norwegian), and gave a face to the thousands of undocumented workers in Norway.
Amelie has captured the hearts of thousands of Norwegian protesters and gained support of organizations like Amnesty International who are demanding that Amelie be released based on the fact that she a minor when brought into the country and should be considered a legal citizen. They are also pressuring the government to amend immigration laws to include a limit on how long ‘illegal’ children can live in the country before they should automatically receive residency.
At her hearing in the Oslo District Court Friday, Amelie was ordered 14 days in Trandum asylum prison and despite her fear of persecution and/or death back in Russia, is expected to be deported to Russia as soon as possible. The Norwegian government defends itself by stating that they treat all ‘illegals’ equally.