Marta, Jessica & Veronika

It’s not “fun” to teach about the Sami

Discrimination against Sami is a pressing, yet widely unspoken problem in Sweden. Approximately 30.000 people of the Swedish population are still facing racism, prejudice, and very often, plain ignorance.

 

 

In 2011, Skolverket first included education about Sweden’s five minorities in the compulsory part of the curriculum for elementary school. However, earlier this year, Swedish Radio reported that Swedish History teachers still skip teaching about national minorities in their classrooms. The report states this is often due to the teachers’ lack of time and knowledge.

“People don’t learn enough about Sami people”, explains Julia Märak Leffler, 29, a Sami-Swedish Sociology student from Linköping, “Looking back at my parents’ generation, not at all my generation, and I’m quite sure that today’s generation doesn’t learn enough.”
In her Master’s thesis from 2015, Julia investigated how the Sami people were portrayed in school books and was presented with quite an old fashioned view.
“The Samis live up north, Samis have reindeer and they are one of Sweden’s minorities”, she recollects, “But that’s not enough.”

“In Swedish textbooks you can learn about how native americans were suppressed by settlers”, she continues, “but generally, Swedes don’t know that we have a similar history here.“

The curriculum from 2011 states “the school is responsible for ensuring that every student, after the compulsory school, has acquired knowledge of the national minorities’ culture, language, religion and history.” and, furthermore, “the school will also ensure that the students get an orientation in the different minority languages, and […] gain knowledge about how cultural heritage has evolved in different national minorities.”.

However, in the 2013 national test for the subject of Social Science, the only test available to the general public, there is no mention of the Sami people’s background, culture, or history.
The tests, which are held every year, are a way to oversee and influence what students are being taught in the classroom.
Arne Löfstedt and Lotten Norlin work in the project team responsible for developing the national tests for Social Science at the Gothenburg University. They recognize that there is an issue due to the lack of grading criteria that Skolverket offers on the topic of national minorities. This makes it difficult to create questions that assess the depth of the students’ knowledge on the subject.
In the school curriculum, national minorities do not have a grading criteria, instead, they are simply included in the learning outcomes. There is no specification on how detailed the topic should be. Arne further states that he has contacted Skolverket expressing concerns about this, but no follow-up was mentioned.

When asked about the reason why teachers skip the topic of minorities, such as the Sami people, Lotten stated: “It is hard to make it fun! There are much more fun topics to teach about…and the Sami questions are also new in the curriculum.”
“For example crime is fun, the kids love it! Maybe the Samis aren’t”, adds Arne.

Many believe the school has a tremendous impact on the way we learn to view the world and the society we live in. Charlotta Svonni, teacher and researcher at Umeå University, and Julia Märak Leffler highlight this outlook.

“I think school is a huge source of discrimination” says Julia, “I believe that what you learn in school, what you see in media and what you hear from politicians, creates what you call ‘official knowledge’. So, if you learn things in school, or don’t learn things in school – this will shape how you see things.”

The lack of knowledge teachers have on how to address the Sami topic is problematic not only for the Sami people themselves, who more often than not have very limited knowledge about their own culture and identity, but also for the Swedish people who do not know how to approach the subject, explains Charlotta.
Charlotta further adds that, “when there is lack of knowledge there is stereotypical misconception, and, therefore, discrimination.”
This, additionally, puts an obvious strain on their mental health. Last year SVD reported that just about every second young Sami woman has had thoughts of committing suicide.

Julia feels that the general ignorance about their culture affects Sami people in different ways. It is detrimental in the sense that many do not feel valued enough in society, and it affects Sami people like Julia, who are often unable to realize that they can identify as being a Sami.
“If you only read about Sami people as someone up north or someone with reindeers, it becomes an us and them-thing.”

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff – 2 articles (ENG Google Translate)

The Migration Board has failed to expel Palestinians

Tens of stateless Palestinians are in limbo in Sweden, but not because they do not want to leave the country – but because they can not. In the week they gather to strike in Gothenburg in protest against being in a “moment 22”.

Most stateless Palestinians who applied for asylum in Sweden but rejected are having trouble leaving the country. This was when the Migration Board in many cases issued expulsion decisions to countries where they previously worked, such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. The problem arises as these countries are not willing to receive them without a valid work permit, something that is almost impossible to acquire on site in Sweden. Now, stateless Palestinians gather from all over the country in Gothenburg to strike in protest against the expatriation of the Swedish immigration team in limbo where they are neither entitled to housing nor work.

– If a person has no protection for the country concerned, such as the United Arab Emirates, and thus not refugee or have alternative protection needs, one must see if there is any other reason for granting a residence permit. Practical difficulty in returning to a country should then be taken into account under the Aliens Act. However, there is a very strict practice regarding this from the Migration Supreme Court. There must be clear evidence that there is no chance of returning, “said Pierre Karatzian at the Migration Board’s press service.

The decision of the Migration Supreme Court (MIG 2008: 38) means that an applicant must prove beforehand that a specific attempt was made to leave Sweden before a decision on rejection or rejection. Sanna Vestin, chairman of the RAC Council (FARR), believes this is not possible because, as the applicant, first investigates his case, a decision is taken and only then he is called upon for enforcement.

– To address impediments, there must be a new circumstance that was not available when you received your final decision. This will be a moment 22 that is incorporated into the law that applies, says Sanna Vestin.

The Swedish Immigration Service reviews each case individually. Several of the affected Palestinians are registered Palestinian refugees according to UNR UNRWA. UNWRA refugee status can not be withdrawn without the sole possibility of expelling a refugee status is that the person may be expelled to a country to which he is affiliated and where it is entitled to his rights.

“You can not expel people that way”

– If you have UNWRA refugee status, it excludes United Arab Emirates where you have far from any civil rights. According to the conventions Sweden is affiliated with, people should not be expelled, says Sanna Vestin.

The situation of stateless Palestinians is known to Swedish authorities and was especially noted in 2014 when around 30 Palestinians hung strike at Järntorget. 2014 was also the year Sweden recognized Palestine as an independent state.

It is unclear how many stateless Palestinians who are in Limbo. According to the Migration Board’s statistics, a total of 9 people are self-employed to the United Arab Emirates between 2014 and 2016. In total, 1400 stateless persons have deviated from Sweden since 2014 until October 2017.

UNHCR is critical of Sweden’s handling of Palestinian refugees with UNRWA status and has submitted the following opinion to the Migration Supreme Court:

“Palestinian refugees entitled to UNRWA, but who have subsequently left UNRWA’s operational area […] shall be assessed in accordance with Article 1D of the Refugee Convention, and not according to the usual provisions of the Aliens Act.”

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff

 

Palestine: A recognized country without recognized rights?

The changed rules of the LMA Act have made it increasingly difficult for stateless Palestinians to support themselves. They are still in limbo and with even fewer rights. “My life is miserable,” says Luay Shabad, stateless Palestinians.

Luay Shabad, statslös palestinier

This week, stateless Palestinians from all over Sweden gather in Gothenburg to protest that they ended up in a legal limbo.

 

– It is strange that this situation can never be resolved more permanently, the problems are repeated over time. Thus it appears that the group of Palestinians who fly flies in limbo because the Swedish authorities consider that they can return to another country while the other country is not keen to receive them, ” says Sanna Vestin, chairman of the Riksdag Council of the Refugee Group (FARR).

The new rules on entitlement to assistance pursuant to the Act on Immigration Applicants Act (LMA) have begun to apply from 1 June 2016. This means that the right to daycare and housing for people who have received a final declaration of expulsion disappeared, with the exception of families with children.

Luay Shabad is one of the tens of stateless Palestinians who are in limbo in Sweden. He is registered stateless Palestinian Territories from Syria by UNRWA, the UN Relief Society for Palestinian Refugees. Luay’s parents are from Syria but he himself was born in Saudi Arabia as he was forced to flee from 1990 because of the Gulf War. Then he returned to Syria where he lived until 2007 when he found a job in the United Arab Emirates. He worked there for five years but had to leave the country when his work permit ceased to apply.

-Although I could find another job in the United Arab Emirates, they did not allow me to move my work visa or sponsor. I then had two choices, either go back to Syria or seek asylum in any other country. I have the exact same feeling now, then, anxiety, says Luay Shabad.

Since then, Luay has been in flight and in 2014 he came via the Mediterranean Sea, through Europe closing to Sweden. After almost two years’ processing time, the decision came – rejection and expulsion decision to United Arab Emirates. A decision that has not been implemented so far.

“I’ve lived a long time in uncertainty, almost everything is over for me. My life is miserable, says Luay Shabad.

Luay is not alone in being in this situation. Tenotal stateless Palestinians have been in limbo and have no opportunity to support themselves or find a more permanent solution for residents since June 2016. This has led to the fact that several of them now work in the black market, ranging from driving black taxi to distributing advertising.

“The law needs to be changed”

The RAC Council (FARR) is critical of the amended rules.

– A person in Limbo may be in Sweden ten, twelve, fifteen years and still be in the same situation, and in itself it is completely unreasonable, says Sanna Vestin, and continues:

– We think the law needs to be changed, it’s not good for anyone. Even for Sweden it is impractical to have people who do not have to work or get a living, it is not wise, says Sanna.

The Migration Board’s comment on the amended rules in the LMA Act:

– This was a political decision that came into force in 2016 with the aim of more people who have expulsion decisions to leave Sweden. Persons who are entitled to LMA may apply to social services in the municipality. SKL has summarized answers to some of the questions related to the municipalities responsibility for these persons, says Pierre Karatzian at the Migration Board’s press service.

(Box – Here the Swedish Municipalities and County Council (SKL) have collected questions and answers about the new rules on asylum seekers’ right to assistance from 1 June 2016. Link)

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff – 2 articles (SWE)

Migrationsverket har misslyckats att utvisa palestinier

Tiotals statslösa palestinier befinner sig i limbo i Sverige, men inte för att de inte vill lämna landet – utan för att de inte kan. I veckan samlas de för att sittstrejka i Göteborg i protest mot att de hamnat i ett ”moment 22”.

Flertalet statslösa palestinier som sökt asyl i Sverige men fått avslag har problem med att lämna landet. Detta då Migrationsverket i flera fall gett utvisningsbeslut till länder där de tidigare arbetat såsom Förenade Arabemiraten eller Saudiarabien. Problemet uppkommer i samband med att dessa länder inte är villiga att ta emot dem utan giltigt arbetstillstånd, något som är näst intill omöjligt att införskaffa sig på plats i Sverige. Nu samlas statslösa palestinier från hela landet i Göteborg för att sittstrejka i protest mot att Sveriges utlänningslag försatt de i limbo där de varken har rätt till bostad eller arbete.

– Om en person inte har skyddsskäl mot aktuellt land, som till exempel Förenade Arabemiraten, och alltså inte är flykting eller har alternativa skyddsbehov får man se om det finns någon annan grund för att bevilja uppehållstillstånd. Praktiska svårigheter att återvända till ett land ska då beaktas enligt utlänningslagen. Emellertid finns det en mycket strikt praxis kring detta från Migrationsöverdomstolen. Det måste finnas tydlig bevisning som styrker att det inte finns någon möjlighet att återvända, säger Pierre Karatzian vid Migrationsverkets presstjänst.

Beslutet från Migrationsöverdomstolen (MIG 2008:38) innebär att en sökande redan innan beslut om bifall eller avslag måste bevisa att man konkret försökt lämna Sverige. Sanna Vestin, ordförande för Flyktinggruppens Riksråd (FARR), menar att detta inte är möjligt eftersom man som sökande först prövar sitt ärende, får ett beslut och först därefter påtalar verkställighetshinder.

– För att påtala verkställighetshinder måste det finnas någon ny omständighet, som inte var för handen när du fick ditt slutliga beslut. Det här blir ett moment 22 som är inbyggt i den lag som gäller, säger Sanna Vestin.

Migrationsverket prövar varje fall individuellt. Flera av de berörda palestinier är registrerade palestinska flyktingar enligt FN-organet UNRWA. Flyktingstatusen från UNWRA går inte att dra tillbaka utan enda möjligheten att utvisa en person som har flyktingstatus är att personen kan utvisas till ett land som den har anknytning till samt där den får sina rättigheter tillgodosedda.

“Man kan inte utvisa människor på det viset”

– Har man flyktingstatus enligt UNWRA utesluter det Förenade Arabemiraten där man har långt ifrån några medborgerliga rättigheter. Enligt de konventioner Sverige är anslutna till så får man inte utvisa människor på det viset, säger Sanna Vestin.

Situationen för statslösa palestinier är känd för svenska myndigheter och uppmärksammades särskilt år 2014 då runt 30 palestinier hungerstrejkade vid Järntorget. 2014 var också det år Sverige erkände Palestina som självständig stat.

Det är ovisst hur många statslösa palestinier som befinner sig i limbo. Enligt Migrationsverkets statistik har totalt 9 personer utrest självmant till Förenade Arabemiraten mellan 2014 och 2016.  Totalt har 1400 statslösa avvikit i Sverige sedan 2014 fram till och med oktober 2017.

UNHCR är kritiska till Sveriges hantering av palestinska flyktingar med UNRWA-status och har lämnat följande yttrande till Migrationsöverdomstolen:

”Palestinska flyktingar som är berättigade till stöd av UNRWA, men som sedermera har lämnat UNRWA’s operationella område […] ska bedömas enligt Art 1D i Flyktingkonventionen, och inte enligt de vanliga skyddsbestämmelserna i Utlänningslagen.”

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff

 

Palestina: Ett erkänt land utan erkända rättigheter?

De ändrade reglerna i LMA-lagen har gjort det allt svårare för statslösa palestinier att försörja sig. De befinner sig fortfarande i limbo och med ännu färre rättigheter. ”Mitt liv är miserabelt”, säger Luay Shabad, statslös palestinier.

Luay Shabad, statslös palestinier

I veckan samlas statslösa palestinier från hela Sverige i Göteborg för att protestera mot att de hamnat i ett juridiskt limbo.

– Det är märkligt att den här situationen aldrig kan lösas mer bestående, problemen uppstår gång på gång. Alltså det visar sig att den grupp palestinier som flyr hamnar i limbo, därför att svenska myndigheter anser att de kan återvända till ett annat land medan det andra landet inte är ett dugg intresserade av att ta emot dem, säger Sanna Vestin, ordförande för Flyktinggruppens Riksråd (FARR).

De nya reglerna om rätt till bistånd enligt lagen om mottagande av asylsökande med flera (LMA) har börjat gälla från 1 juni 2016. Det innebär att rätten till dagersättning och boende för människor som fått slutbesked om utvisning försvunnit, med undantag för barnfamiljer.

Luay Shabad är en av de tiotals statslösa palestinier som befinner sig i limbo i Sverige. Han är registrerad statslös palestinier från Syrien av UNRWA, FN:s hjälporganisation för palestinska flyktingar. Luays föräldrar är från Syrien men han själv föddes i Saudiarabien som han tvingades fly från 1990 på grund av Gulfkriget. Då begav han sig tillbaka till Syrien där han var bosatt fram tills 2007 då han hittade ett arbete i Förenade Arabemiraten. Han arbetade där i fem år men tvingades lämna landet när hans arbetstillstånd upphörde att gälla.

– Även om jag kunde hitta ett annat jobb i Förenade Arabemiraten så tillät de mig inte att flytta mitt arbetsvisum, eller sponsor. Jag hade då två valmöjligheter, antingen åka tillbaka till Syrien eller söka asyl i något annat land. Jag har exakt samma känsla nu som då, ångest, säger Luay Shabad.

Sedan dess har Luay varit på flykt och år 2014 kom han via medelhavet, genom Europa tillslut till Sverige. Efter nästan två års handläggningstid kom sedan beslutet – avslag och utvisningsbeslut till Förenade Arabemiraten. Ett beslut som hittills inte kunnat verkställas.

– Jag har levt en lång tid i ovisshet, nästan allt är slut för mig. Mitt liv är miserabelt, säger Luay Shabad.

Luay är inte ensam om att befinna sig i den här situationen. Tiotals statslösa palestinier har hamnat i limbo och har sedan juni 2016 inte heller möjlighet att försörja sig eller hitta någon mer permanent lösning för boende. Det har lett till att flera av de nu arbetar på svarta marknaden, allt ifrån att köra svarttaxi till att dela ut reklam.

”Lagen behöver ändras”

Flyktinggruppernas Riksråd (FARR) är kritiska till de ändrade reglerna.

– En person som befinner sig i Limbo kan ju vara i Sverige tio, tolv, femton år och fortfarande vara i samma situation, och det i sig är ju helt orimligt, säger Sanna Vestin och fortsätter:

– Vi tycker lagen behöver ändras, det är inte bra för någon. Även för Sverige är det ju opraktiskt att ha människor som inte får arbeta eller får försörja sig, det är ju inte klokt, säger Sanna.

Migrationsverkets kommentar på de ändrade reglerna i LMA-lagen:

– Detta var ett politiskt beslut som trädde i kraft 2016 i syfte att fler personer som har utvisningsbeslut ska lämna Sverige. Personer som blir av med rätten till LMA kan vända sig till socialtjänsten i den kommun man befinner sig. SKL har sammanfattat svar på några av frågorna kopplade till kommunernas ansvar för dessa personer, säger Pierre Karatzian vid Migrationsverkets presstjänst.

(ruta – Här har Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting (SKL) samlat frågor och svar kring de nya reglerna om asylsökandes rätt till bistånd från 1 juni 2016. Länk)

 

Pernilla Stammler Jaliff

Hanna, Mia & Mara

Willhem makes great profit with huge renovations

– pensioners can’t afford

 

Willhem, a private housing company owned by Första AP-fonden , is very succesfull with a strategy where an old apartment turns brand new in one go.  

Willhem’s profit increased by 36 percent, only from January to June this year. The growth has been especially fast in Gothenburg.

This success carries the name Willhemlyftet. The renovations take place between tenants, after a tenant moves out and before a new moves in. “Willhemlyftet” always includes stainless kitchen appliances, fully tiled bathroom, new layers, oak parquet and clinker in the hallway.

After the renovation, Willhem rents out the apartment which is 30-40 percent higher than the rent of the apartments that are not renovated, says Willhem’s communication and marketing manager Madeleine Wetterström.

“As a result, there are fewer people who can afford to live in Willhem’s apartments”, says lawyer Suzan Rasul from Hyresgästföreningen. “Higher rent after renovation is a problem for many tenants, especially for those who don’t have a large marginal when it comes to their economy.”

Pensioners vulnerable

Accommodation costs take up more than a third (SCB) of the disposable income for single pensioners, making them one of the most vulnerable groups for increased rent, according to the national pensioners organization PRO. For this group, even moderate rent increases, with 5 to 10 percent, will contribute to difficulties in keeping their personal economy together.

If the rent increases by 50 percent, over half of the alone living pensioners in Gothenburg will face the risk to be forced to move out, says the study  commissioned by Hyresgästföreningen.

PRO is worried about the current situation. There is a lack of rental apartments in Gothenburg, which means, according to PRO, that landlords can just choose new tenants who are willing to pay the new, higher rent.

“Totally renovated apartments have such high rents that pensioners can’t afford them. It is a huge problem”, says Susanne Öhrling, Elderly Care at PRO.

Among the worst in Gothenburg

Despite the successful business model, Willhem is nominated as one of the worst landlords in Gothenburg in Hem och Hyra’s investigation.

Last year Hyresgästföreningen received 2376 complaints from tenants in Gothenburg. Many of the complaints concerned Willhem, Rasul says. Tenants of Willhem apartments complain about disturbance of constant renovations and shortcomings in apartments and common areas.

Communications manager Wetterström says that Willhem is not satisfied with their placement in the list of worst landlords of Gothenburg. In addition, Willhem’s own customer survey shows that over 43 percent of their tenants in Gothenburg think that the conditions in their apartments are “bad” or “not so good”.

“In Gothenburg we unfortunately have a worse result compared to other cities. There are many reasons behind it, for example we have recently been growing strongly in Gothenburg and got many new properties that have been particularly challenging to maintain”, Wetterström says.

Willhem says that they do not force anyone to move because of renovation as they do total renovations in apartments that are already empty.

“When we decide to renovate (Willhemlyftet), there is no tenant to ask about it”, Wetterström says.

“Residents money”

Willhem is owned by state-funded Första AP-fonden, which gets its money from Swedish people who save for their pensions. Första AP-fonden invests the money and tries to get the best benefit for the Swedish national income pension system.

Every Swedish person needs to pay a certain percentage of their salary for the pension system to get pension as they retire.

“We know that the company has certain interests, but there are other expectations for the owner, Första AP-fonden, because they get the money from the state, it is residents’ money they use”, Rasul says.

Första AP-fonden highlights that their core business is capital management and they have full confidence in the management of Willhem.

“We do not get involved in our companies’ specific businesses”, says Anna Fall, head of communications at Första AP-fonden. “As we know Willhem works very focused and hard to achieve their goals, vision and to meet tenants’ expectation”, she adds.

Change in the law?

A report  from SABO (Sveriges Allmännyttiga Bostadsföretag) says that the housing companies’ current strategy to do total renovations is a way to attract new customer groups. These new customer groups are the ones with higher incomes.

According to the law, tenants should give their permission before a landlord can do a renovation. However, if a tenant says no, and the case ends up at Hyresnämden, the landlords (property owners) almost always win, Rasul says.

In April this year, an appointed government investigation proposed that more attention should be paid to tenants’ interests when considering whether a rebuilding (renovation) should be allowed. Still, it is unclear how this will affect the pensioners position.

Medical age assessment in Sweden – Matthew, Felicia, Lucas

Hey guys!

After speaking to David the other day we decided on doing a scoping article instead of an investigative story because we were not able to prove or disprove our hypothesis.

We do think that there is a story down the road, but at the moment we don’t have enough go on, so here it is:

Medical Age Assessment – Scoping Article

We also made a short “social media”-video as a sort of trailer to the story. We wanted to experiment with an AJ+-clip format (and yes, we realize it’s fairly biased and the song is cheesy).