Protest in Denmark at move to return Syrian refugees to Damascus

Dozens of permits revoked as Denmark claims Damascus is safe

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - APRIL 21: People along with a number of activists gather to protest the government's plan to deport Syrian refugees after Denmark refused to renew residency permits of Syrian refugees, as protest held by Mellemfolkelig Samvirke (Action Aid), Youth Branch of the Danish Refugee Council, Venligboerne and Syrian activist Haifaa Awad at Christiansborg Palace square near parliament building ,in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 21, 2021. (Photo by Davut Colak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Protesters rallied outside the Danish parliament to denounce the government's move to deport Syrian refugees back to Damascus.

The Nordic country claims that conditions in and around the Syrian capital, which is under the control of Bashar Al Assad's regime, are safe for refugees to return.

At least 189 Syrians in Denmark have had their residency permits revoked since last summer.

About 1,000 people staged a protest in Copenhagen on Wednesday as refugees facing deportation appeal against the decision.

"I'm here to show my support for the Syrian refugees," said Anne, 24, a student, who would not disclose her last name.

"I think it's irrational that we are the only country in the EU to send back Syrian refugees to the Damascus area," she told AFP.

Student Tulip Bashour, 21, who received a letter on March 30 informing her that her residency permit had been withdrawn, was pleased by the turnout.

"It actually means a lot to me that many people are standing with us and they are against this law," she said.

"They are with the Syrian people and they don't want them to be sent home because it's not safe there."

Ms Bashour is appealing the decision to revoke her residency rights.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - APRIL 21: People along with a number of activists gather to protest the government's plan to deport Syrian refugees after Denmark refused to renew residency permits of Syrian refugees, as protest held by Mellemfolkelig Samvirke (Action Aid), Youth Branch of the Danish Refugee Council, Venligboerne and Syrian activist Haifaa Awad at Christiansborg Palace square near parliament building ,in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 21, 2021. (Photo by Davut Colak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A petition by human rights group The Syria Campaign urged Denmark's government to reinstate all of the permits.

Refugees could face torture and human rights abuses in Syria, or be taken to "prison-like" deportation camps in Denmark to await their expulsion, the group said.

It also called on other EU countries to take in the refugees.

"Does the government even consider us human beings? Because hearing what they are saying, I don't feel human anymore," said Aya Abu Daher, one of the refugees ordered to return.

The petition had nearly 9,000 signatures on Thursday afternoon.

Syrian refugees face detention centres and deportation

Denmark decided last summer to re-examine the cases of about 500 Syrians from Damascus and the surrounding area.

It said "the current situation in Damascus is no longer such as to justify a residence permit or the extension of a residence permit".

Since then, nearly 200 Syrians have had their permits revoked.

Those who had only been granted temporary residency have been placed in a detention centre pending their deportation.

Under Danish immigration law, temporary residence permits are issued without an end date in cases of a "particularly serious situation in the country of origin characterised by arbitrary violence and attacks against civilians".

But they can be revoked once conditions are deemed to have improved.

Some 35,500 Syrians live in Denmark, more than half of whom arrived in 2015, according to Statistics Denmark.

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