Iraqi refugees seek sanctuary in Denmark church

Other News Materials 20 May 2009 14:06 (UTC +04:00)

Denmark rejects calls to re-examine the cases of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and who are staging a sit-in in a Copenhagen church, Press TV reported.

Almost 300 asylum seekers, including 23 children, are affected by the ruling; an initial group of 10 had first sought refuge in the Vor Frue Church in Copenhagen on Friday evening to highlight their plight.

The group quickly grew to almost 80 and a decision was made to move to the Norrebro Church where they are housed in basement rooms looked after by Danish volunteers.

"One must not hope to win the right to stay through an occupation, because this would undermine our whole asylum system," Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, talking to reporters, warned on Tuesday.

Denmark and Iraq reached an agreement last week to return 282 Iraqi refugees whose asylum requests had been rejected.

The protesters hope to achieve the same success as Palestinians who occupied a Copenhagen church in 1992 for several months and forced the government to pass a special law that granted asylum to the 460 Palestinian refugees then in the country.

This is the most recent example of European states forcefully deporting refugees while they remain critical of efforts by Middle Eastern states to repatriate refugees staying in their countries.