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The Netherlands: nonstop celebrations since 26 October in a church in The Hague to block deportation of Armenian family

La chiesa all'Aja. Sotto i tre ragazzi armeni

“What is going on in The Hague is the sign of a bigger problem: the situation of young asylum seekers who grew up in the Netherlands and are nevertheless deported”. Dirk Gudde, the president of the Council of Churches in the Netherlands, explained to SIR news agency what is happening in the Protestant Church of Bethel, where an Armenian family has been living since 26 October. The family now risks deportation, since their asylum application has been rejected. However, since a Dutch law prohibits the police from entering a worship place during a celebration, round-the-clock prayers and celebrations have been held there since that date.
On 5 December, the Council of Churches wrote a letter to the Government, requesting the application of the Children’s Amnesty Regulation (Regeling Kinderpardon) of 2013, which protects the rights of children who have been living in the country for more than five years. But this Regulation does not currently work, and less than 10% of applications for amnesty is accepted”. So the community has mobilised, offering asylum in the church to the Tamrazyan family – mother, father and three children – who have been in the Netherlands for almost nine years. This form of protection behind the walls of a church (Kerkasiel) “is recognized by the Council of Churches as a legitimate means in serious situations of injustice”, Mr Gudde continued. There is huge mobilisation in the country: “a new request was submitted last week, backed by 250,000 signatures, for the case to be brought to Parliament”.

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