Tomorrow, Saturday the 8 September, at midday asylum activists will demonstrate at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen with the aim of preventing the deportation of Guatemalan Fernanda Milan. According to the organisers from the T-Refugee Project her expulsion does not take account of international conventions and individual risks.
Fernanda Milan stands to be deported on the 17th September after being refused asylum by the refugee board. As a result a group of activists in Denmark formed the support group T-Refugee Project. Emil cronjager from the group says;
“We don’t think the refugee board has understood that as an individual, Fernanda’s life is in danger in Guatemala. Because of Fernanda’s gender identity and her political activism she risks persecution, attack and eventual death. She is in extreme individual danger, if she is sent back to Guatemala.”
Stine Larsen, who is also active in the T-Refugee Project adds: “Fernanda is a well-known face in Guatemala because, over the course of many years has been open about being transgender, and also because she has been a spokesperson for the OASIS organization which works for trans people’s rights.”
Fernanda Milan is convinced that there was no other option other than to flee:
“I know no transgender people in Guatemala older than 35 and many of my friends have been killed. When I was repeatedly attacked by members of the public and police officers, I decided that I had to do something to save my life."
“I fled to Denmark, because I had heard that it was a good country for minorities.”
Fernanda is sorry she had to leave her family and her friends from the human rights organization OASIS
"As a human rights activist, I am used to fighting for other trans people’s lives. I'm sorry that I had to leave my country because I was an important leader in fighting for transgender people. They needed me. But I'm sure I would have been killed if I had not fled. I had to do it. "
For Saturday's demonstration, T-Refugee Project invited a wide range of people, the organization believes that Fernanda Milan's case is a matter that cuts across political and social boundaries.
"We believe that everyone in Denmark must see that we should observe basic human rights. Unfortunately, Denmark is on a collision course with the EU and the UN Refugee Convention over this case, and we do not understand why she has been turned down. It appears to have been the result of a bad decision-making process. Both her transgender status and her background as a human rights activist represent huge risks for her if she is sent back to Guatemala. But when you combine the risk factors, it's utterly inconceivable that we in Denmark have decided to refuse her asylum,” states Emil Cronjager.
Ninna Nyberg Sorensen, a researcher at DIIS, is one of those who has declared her support for T-Refugee Project's demonstration. Just on the basis of its general knowledge about human rights in Guatemala supports Fernanda’s right to asylum in Denmark:
"Violence against women and minorities is widespread in Guatemala, and it has been repeatedly demonstrated that state authorities, for example. the national police; PNC, has been involved in sexual violence and killing, not least prostitutes, homosexuals and trans people. This violence has been described as 'social cleansing', and has often had political support. An incompetent legal system and widespread impunity makes the situation more serious. Not only do sexual minorities risk being mistreated and killed; criminals will in all likelihood not be punished." she says.
T-Refugee Project also believes that Denmark is guilty of the same impunity that exists in Guatemala, when the rapes of Fernanda Milán in Sandholm not investigated. Stine Larsen explains:
"Can it really be that Denmark cannot protect an asylum seeker better than this? Fernanda Milán had to flee the refugee camp because of repeated rapes there, where the Red Cross had placed her in the men’s dormitory. Is this how Denmark treats asylum seekers? Is this how Denmark treats minorities?”
Emil Cronjager continues: "The Attorney-General's responsibility is to ensure that such a thing does not take place, and that when there are serious errors like this, they are investigated. In the T-Refugee Project, we demand that the Minister of Justice goes in and investigates. Those responsible must be punished, and the Red Cross should receive training about trans people’s needs and rights."