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Why is Sweden deporting asylum seekers back to Syria?

Sweden is continuing to try to remove Syrian asylum seekers, despite the appalling human rights situation in that country.

The attempted removals have led to protests by opposition Social Democrats.

Four Social Democrat leaders wrote to the the Svenska Dagbladet daily:

“The Foreign Ministry (Utrikesdepartementet) has for a long time discouraged people from visiting Syria and is now advising Swedes to leave the country.”
“If the ministry doesn’t deem the country to be safe for Swedes, then why is it acceptable to deport politically active refugees there?” they wrote.

They described it as hypocrisy to stand up for human rights and support cries for democracy on the one hand, and at the same time decline to offer protection to those who have fled a violent regime.

At least 3,500 people according to a new estimate by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 200 of them children, have been killed during the demonstrations in Syria.

“In the light of this it is both surprising and worrying that the Swedish state is pursuing a restrictive asylum policy where politically active people are forcibly deported into the hands of a regime which uses its entire military superiority to strike down a mainly unarmed and peaceful opposition movement," the Social Democrats wrote.

The website Human Rights 666 reports that threats from Syrian agents were directed at those present Tuesday trying to stop the removal of a Syrian asylum seeker and political activist Fars Mahmoud by Sweden. Activist Mikael Johansson, who runs the website, says:

"How can it be that anyone even consider to send an individual back to a country that is exposing dissidents for punishments that we only believe exists in the world of American movies. Fars Mahmoud was active in a Kurdish movement in Syria – an organization that the regime is brutally persecuting. The Party’s spokesman Mashal Tammo was brutally murdered by the regime’s agents in the town Qamishli 7th of October."

Amongst those present at Stockholm Airport trying to stop the removal of Mahmoud was a local Stockholm city councillor. He confirmed the presence of Syrian Embassy staff with Airport staff and asked that the removal be stopped as a result, but at the time of writing there is no confirmation that it was stopped.

Sweden's neighbour Norway stopped removing asylum seekers to Syria in April, as have most other European countries.

Human Rights 666 has produced letters to the relevant Swedish authorities to protest the removal of Mahmoud.