In my newspaper last week: A letter from the danish poet Henrik Nordbrandt (in my translation):
WE EXPELL OUR OWN CHILDREN
I do not know how other readers of this newspaper felt after reading the article ‘Siblings born in Denmark, but will be sent to Iraq’, February 21st in Information (the name of the newspaper). But some might have felt ashamed for being danes, and anger and resentment against the responsible authorities too? That’s how I felt anyway.
The article explains how Denmark will expel two children – aged seven and nine, born and raised in Denmark – to Iraq, a country ravaged by one of the bloodiest civil wars in recent history.
With our military engagement in Iraq, Denmark have a clear responsibility for this civil war. This fact makes the willfull cynicism and total lack of proportion in relation to human rights and human reasons behind the deportation order, appear with terrifying clarity.
The quotations from the decision of Udlændingestyrelsen (Immigration Service) shows the contours of an institution in which no single individual can be held responsible, because each employee is simply performing a duty, delegated to him or her by a higher authority.
When I try to imagine the person who signed the decision, I see fearsome black shadows, and my head is filled with quotes from war tribunals, back from World War II, and throughout my own time – “Well, I just did my duty. ”
I know that Udlændingestyrelsen (Immigration Service) is probably populated with honest, meticulous people who is in no position to say no. They are facing unpleasant tasks, such as the expulsion of children, born and raised in Denmark, to a civil war hell. They, too, probably have families to support. If they say no, they might loose their jobs. To reconcile their conscience – if such a faculity exists – they can use the excellent argument that Denmark can not take care of all the needy children in the world.
But this case is different. These siblings cannot be considered anything other than danish; they were born and raised here. Denmark can prevent the two children from being sent to a country that is foreign to them. A country where death – or something even worse – will be an omnipresent threat, now and far into the distant future.
The expulsion of the two brothers, Ibrahim and Ozlam, will be a humanitarian atrocity. Instead of hiding behind the responsibility of a faceless institution like Udlændingstyrelsen, will any politician step forward and approve the execution of such an atrocity in person? Or: Will any politician with a minimum of self-respect be able to remain silent at the prospect of the two children being deported?
Henrik Nordbrandt, Information: 24. februar 2015
This is what it means to be at war, far away: The consequenses are abstract. The human implications are absent and we don’t relate to the enormous consequences of our own warfare. The danish wars: In Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya and now again in Iraq and Syria. In all four wars there is a political and ideological argument; a reasoning behind our participation. We are the most willing in the coalition of the willing. We are fighting for democracy, free speech, rights of women. A string of noble courses. All abstract ideals that no one can disagree with.
As it is stated somewhere else in the same newspaper: The collective analytic capacity is weakened. The ability to read a situation and act accordingly is weakened. This is a serious default. As Denmark entered the war in Iraq in 2002, we were led to believe a series of noble-course-arguments, even though it was quite obvious already at that point, that vital parts of the facts that the arguments were based upon, was fabricated by the american military complex. The noble courses we were hoping to implant – democracy and free society – was extremely fast overrun by a violent clash of ethnic and religious interests. Instead of a humane state Iraq became a labyrinth of deadly civil wars; a dark hell on earth.
How to take responsibility of our own mistakes? As Henrik Nordbrandt shows us: To abolish abstraction and act according to our own ideal belief in a humane society with equal rights for all – also for the weak and marginalised. Our humane idealistic beliefs must manifest directly, in the reality of the present circumstances. We have to act accordingly. We have to take direct responsibility. Here and now. Responsibility for these two children – and for all the other refugees from our own abstract wars.