Asylum seeker protest ends in violence

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Yesterday, a protest by asylum seekers ended in a brawl and police used pepper spray on asylum seekers. Police action has been severely criticized, both by the public and by MP’s today at Parliament and has been called harsh and uncalled for.

Asylum seekers and refugees in Iceland were conducting a protest that began peacefully. They ask for deportations to stop, have their applications processed individually, that they will have equal access to mental and physical healthcare, that they should have assured living spaces away from the Ásbrú camp that they claim is inadequate and socially isolating, and that they should have the right to work while their applications are processed.

Police began to interfere with protestors when they began erecting a tent at Austurvöllur parliament square. Leader of the Alliance Party, Logi Einarsson wrote on his Facebook page that he witnessed “Unusually harsh reaction by police who used pepper spray on a group holding a very weak position in society, a group of people who were going to pitch a tent on Austurvöllur to shine a light on their cause.”

An Icelandic photographer, Ómar Sverrisson, reports that he was sprayed with pepper spray and that police punched him in the chest. He was not protesting and just taking photographs.

Two protestors were arrested at Austurvöllur and last night, protestors moved in front of the police station at Hlemmur where they banged on drums and shouted for their release until late in the evening.

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