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Dutch church ends 24/7 service to protect Armenian asylum seekers after government policy shift

Church holding non-stop service since October 26 to prevent police seizing family of asylum seekers finally bring it to an end after 2,327 HOURS following deal with Dutch officials

  • Bethel Church in The Hague carried out 24/7 service to protect Armenian family
  • Dutch law prohibits authorities entering churches while service is underway
  • Tamrazyan family lived in Holland  for nine years but court ordered deportation
  • Coalition said it will now review asylum applications by kids previously rejected

A Dutch church which held round-the-clock services for 2,327 hours prevent a family from being deported declared victory on Wednesday.

The Bethel Church, a small chapel in The Hague, started the protest on October 26 to protect a family of Armenian asylum-seekers after the government announced changes to its immigration policy.

The 24/7 service was organised  to shield the Tamrazyan family – including the parents, their two daughters and a son – as Dutch law prohibits authorities from entering a church building while a service is underway. 

Worshippers participating in the non-stop service to protect the Tamrazyan family from Armenia

Hayarpi Tamrazyan (right), 21, her parents, brother and sister were protected from deportation in the church as Dutch law prohibits authorities from entering a church building while a service is underway

Hayarpi Tamrazyan (right), 21, her parents, brother and sister were protected from deportation in the church as Dutch law prohibits authorities from entering a church building while a service is underway

Husband Sasun and wife Anousche and their children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran fled the former Soviet republic to Holland nine years ago.

The asylum seekers had been living in special accommodation before a Dutch court ordered their deportation in September.

They reached out to local congregations to help them and fled to the Bethel Church, saying they felt vulnerable to deportation at their asylum centre. 

The Bethel Church announced the end of its protest a day after the Dutch ruling coalition said it will review hundreds of asylum applications by children that previously were rejected.

‘We are incredibly grateful for a safe future in the Netherlands for hundreds of refugee families,’ church official Theo Hettema said.

At a news conference late Tuesday, the government minister in charge of immigration issues, Mark Harbers, said authorities will again review the cases of many children whose applications were rejected because they had not cooperated with efforts to send them back to their home countries. Dutch media reported that about 700 children will be affected.

Hayarpi and her family fled Armenia and had been living in Holland for nine years before new immigration laws were implemented

Hayarpi and her family fled Armenia and had been living in Holland for nine years before new immigration laws were implemented

‘The expectation is that a large number of the rejected children will be eligible’ for a residency permit, Harbers said.

On Wednesday, he told lawmakers that authorities will not deport any of the children or their families while the review is conducted.

The Tamrazyans have lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years, as their asylum application and various appeals proceeded through the country’s courts. Last year, the country’s highest administrative court, ruled they must return to their home country, which is considered safe by the Dutch government.

Armenia is locked in conflict with Azerbaijan over their border and skirmishes are common; a violation of a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

Although, the British Foreign Office advises against travel into this border region the rest of the country is thought to be relatively safe for tourists.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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