9 June 2015

Apology for the past? Trust in future?
What about the present?

– Norwegian treatment of Taters and Romani people

By Marianne Haslev Skånland

A Norwegian version of this article was published on 2-3 June 2015
on MHS's website and on Forum Redd Våre Barn (Forum Rescue Our Children).

On 1 June of this year, a new report was on the news several times. The report is that of a commission having evaluated how Taters (a traditionally migratory or semi-travelling group) and Romani people / gipsies have been persecuted and harmed in Norway.

– Statens politikk mot tatere har vært feilslått og nedbrytende
(The policies of the state against the Taters have been unsuccessful / misjudged and destructive)
Den feilslåtte behandlingen av tatere – og romanifolk de siste 100-årene er statens ansvar, ifølge ny rapport. Nå beklager regjeringen, Den norske Kirke og Kirkens Sosialtjeneste behandlingen.
(The misjudged treatment of Taters and Romani people over the last 100 years is the responsibility of the state according to a new report. Now the government, the Norwegian Church [the state church] and the Social Service of the Church apologise for this treatment.)
nrk (the national broadcasting company), 1 June 2015

Knut Vollebæk, the chairman of the Tater/Romani commission:
Statens politikk har vært feilslått og nedbrytende i hundre år
(The policies of the state have been misjudged and destructive for a hundred years)
Den har redusert livskvaliteten for mange og skapt en frykt for myndigheter som går i arv, mener leder av Tater-/romaniutvalget.
(It has reduced the quality of life for many and has created a fear of the authorities which is continually passed on through the generations.)
Aftenposten, 1 June 2015

"Reduced the quality of life"? That must be said to be a rather weak formulation, or what?

This information is not new

We bold Norwegians know this perfectly well already. Haven't we heard lots about it, been able to read loads about it? One or two little examples of contexts in which it "turns up naturally":

Joar Tranøy (2003):
Usedelighet og samfunnsfare..Seksuelt utfordrende atferd og medisinske inngrep innen åndssvakeomsorgen i 1940-og 1950-årene.
(Immorality and danger to society .. Sexually provocative behaviour and medical intervention within the care for the mentally deficient in the 1940s and 1950s.)
Oslo: Unipub forlag

Bernt Skrede:
"Usedelighet og samfunnsfare" - ei vond, men viktig bok"
("Immorality and danger to society" – a painful but important book")
BarnasRett, ca 2003

Joar Tranøy:

"IQ-testing og seksualinngrep mot usedelige åndssvake jenter"
("IQ testing and sexual intervention against indecent, mentally deficient girls")
BarnasRett, ca 2004

It is not a question of a past safely far behind us. Norway has been continually active in "eliminating the Tater problem" through the years and it has not been kept hidden. The leaders of our society who have only now "discovered" this activity seem, in their rather feigned ignorance, to be caught by an ideology amounting to blindness about Norwegian excellence. A typical symptom revealing the same priggishness is that in Norway it is considered a near catastrophe if a child is taken out of the uniform Norwegian school to receive its education elsewhere or by home schooling, or if children in custody disputes go abroad with a parent from another nation back to this parent's homeland rather than stay on in Norway. This attitude on the part of Norwegians is no different from the force exercised against the Taters to be "assimilated" and "become sedentary". A recent article by the historian Per Haave summarises the official policy and activity against the Taters:

Per Haave:
- De skal ikke utgjøre noen egen gruppe i folket lenger
(– They are no longer to be a separate group in the population)
Det går en assimileringspolitisk linje fra venstrestaten i begynnelsen av 1900-tallet til arbeiderpartistaten etter 1945. Målet var å utrydde taternes/romanifolkets kultur og levesett.
(There is a continual, political line spelling assimilation from the state ruled by [the liberal political party] Venstre at the beginning of the 20th century to the Labour party state after 1945. The aim was to eradicate the culture and way of life of the Taters / Romani people.)
Dagbladet, 2 June 2015

The last paragraph of this illuminating article:
"Først i 1970-åra ble assimileringspolitikken satt under lupen.
Men ennå skulle det gå mange år før politikken formelt ble avviklet. Det skjedde først i 1986."

(Not until the 1970s was the assimilation policy examined more closely. But many years were yet to pass before the policy was formally terminated. This was done only in 1986.)

The word "formally" here inevitably carries with it this thought: Maybe formally, officially, but not necessarily in practice. The abusive actions against Taters and other "deviants" are still going on, going strong, carried out through the state's child protection service (CPS) – "barnevernet". In the CPS, prejudice and exercise of power are active as hardly anywhere else. And in their ideology and practice, "vagabonding" contitutes a serious form of "failure to care", cf

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Et barneverns argumenter: Hjemmefødsel og sjalusi og mystiske forbokstaver og vagabondering
(The arguments of a CPS office: Home birth and jealousy and mysterious initials and vagabonding)
MHS's home page 27 February 2014

which describes the CPS attack on a couple who plan to have their child born at home and who say the CPS acts in revenge because the couple have criticised the municipality.


In addition to having a copious literature about the treatment of Taters and other "out-groups", we hear about it on various occasions of either "celebration" or "mourning" under official auspices:

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Dr Mengele & Co in action in Norwegian homes?
MHS's home page 1995

We have very little reason to pretend ignorance or innocence. But it is a good thing that we are reminded yet once more, since it does not sink in with us – we the world champions on human rights. It does not sink in in such a way that we realise what we have done and start to mend our ways.

Past and future – what about the present?

Our Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner (Conservative Party) was interviewed in connection with the presentation of the report.

He talked about the transgressions of the past, and used the words "trust" and "future" about ten times. His reasoning seemed to be that now one could apologise for the past, because now at long last one has the information about what had been going on. So now, through asking forgiveness, one could "work" to restore trust among the Taters in the Norwegian society again, so that the mistrust should not be passed on – continue to "be inherited" – by future generations.

What miserable nonsense! Forgiveness for
the past when the same abuse continues in the present?

A very important report is coming from the Council of Europe
Forum Redd Våre Barn, 18 February 2015

A special focus on the way Romani children are almost routinely taken from their families in Norway:

Kritikk fra Europarådet vedrørende rom-barn
(Criticism from the Council of Europe concerning Romani children)
Forum Redd Våre Barn, 18 May 2015

refers to this article:
Europarådet kritisk til norsk barnevern
(The Council of Europe critical to Norwegian CPS)
Barn i romfamilier plasseres «ekstremt ofte» i fosterhjem eller barnevernsinstitusjoner i Norge, ifølge Europarådets menneskerettskommissær.
(Children of Romani families are "extremely often" placed in foster homes or institutions for children in Norway, according to the human rights commissioner of the Countil of Europe.)
Aftenposten, 18 May 2015

"I rapporten anslås det at over 60 rombarn er under barnevernets omsorg, inkludert fosterhjem, og at like mange står i fare for å bli fjernet fra familien.
   - Dette utgjør omtrent halvparten av ikketilreisende rombarn i Norge, heter det."

(In the report it is assessed that more than 60 Romani children are under the care of the CPS, including in foster homes, and that equally many are in danger of being removed from their families.
   – This is said to constitute about half of the non-visiting Romani children in Norway.

The criticism from the Council of Europe concerns what is going on

The Czech president's characterisation of Norwegian CPS is not unrealistic. Essentially, what is carried out is a Nazi program:
Czech President Compares Norwegian Child Welfare with Nazi Program
The Nordic Page, 10 February 2015

It is revealing to read the arguments and comments of Norwegians when this issue is brought up. We then no longer hear that we, the spotless Norwegians, must ask forgiveness, must stop the terrors carried out by the CPS and change tack, must face what our lack of respect for the family life and family love of others is creating in the way of tragedies all along. Rather, there is self-righteous ridiculing of what the Czech president says:
"CPS leader: Serious that foreign media spread lies about Norwegian child protection"

We are back to our blind belief that our CPS workers and our authorities protect children, that they are honest, truthful and constructive, and back to moralising about everybody we do not consider as good as ourselves and not fit to have their children with them. Naturally given love is unknown to Norwegians, a lack of knowledge and insight which is the result of many decades of materialistic, primitive ideas and theories spread through several "sciences".

Government minister Sanner's performance regarding Norway and the Taters was embarrassing to watch. Over and out with him – he is useless at such matters as this! So is the rest of the government he belongs to also, they continue the actions of the past against the victims of "child protection".

Who is believed?

The Norwegian state church has had a central role in the treatment of the Taters. So what does the church have to say?

Hamar-biskop Solveig Fiske: – Det handler om å lytte og være ydmyke nå
– Be taterne om tilgivelse
(The bishop of Hamar, Solveig Fiske: – This is about listening and being humble
– Ask the Taters for forgiveness)
– Det viktige nå er å be taterne om tilgivelse med den ydmykheten som ligger i det, sier biskopen.
(– What is important now is to ask the Taters for forgiveness with the humility which that implies, says the bishop.)
Østlendingen, 2 juni 2015

"– Nå er et suverent arbeid lagt fram i det offentlige rom, så nå har vi et redskap å bruke i arbeidet med å lytte til hva taterne selv mener vil kunne skape forsoning og gi verdighet til dem som har vært krenket, sier Solveig Fiske."
(– Now an excellent report has been presented publicly, so now we have a tool to use in our work of listening to what the Taters themselves think could create reconciliation and give dignity to those who have been offended, says Folveig Fiske.)

What nonsense!
Now an excellent report ....? The facts have been perfectly accessible for some decades, open and public. Tools have not been lacking. There is a shameful cowardice among Norwegians like bishop Fiske: One does not want to listen except if the authorities themselves – some officially appointed committee – are the ones to say it. Over and out with Solveig Fiske.

What about the leader of the present commission, Knut Vollebæk himself?

" Utvalgsleder Knut Vollebæk sa i aulaen til Universitetet i Oslo at han er sjokkert over måten tatere og romanifolk har blitt behandlet på i Norge."
(Leader of the commission Knut Vollebæk said in the Uiversity of Oslo aula that he is shocked at the way Taters and Romani people have been treated in Norway.)

A well-known tune when judgments and decisions in child protection cases devastate families: They are
so extremely shocked, the lawyers of the CPS victims who have lost the case, their friends and acquaintances who have witnessed for them are equally shocked, and sundry people in school and service professions who think that "just this family is quite all right so we don't understand this judgment". We rarely hear the shock leading to anything; those who are "shocked" tend to continue in their ordinary lives as usual, not doing anything much to spread the shock, not understanding that here we must ourselves, every single one of us, start to do something to change the loathsome attitudes and actions of our society. The lawyers continue to practice "child protection law" based on their text-books and received instruction, all of which uncritically loyal to the system.

I believe that the victims should rather conduct their court cases themselves before county committees and courts, make the courts finally open their eyes, by refusing to bend to the destructive way power tries to muzzle the victims as if it was right and just that the victims should confess that they had to be disciplined. The way these cases go in Norway, the victims could not possibly be any worse off by taking the reins themselves. And the victims must themselves publish on the internet, publish in detail all the unacceptable things done and said against them, not make themselves dependant on the authority-subservient journalists of the press.

Hasn't the shocked Mr Vollebæk (of KrF = the Christian People's Party) read previous documentation of the treatment of Taters in the hands of his Christian friends? Has he not been able, for years, to read and hear that the same sort of thing continues in the hands of the CPS? Hasn't he himself been a member of a government which has sanctioned CPS abuse on just as large a scale as before and after his own time as a cabinet minister?

What nonsense!

What is the position – NOW?

The policy of the state has been misjudged and distructive for a hundred years? Yes. So has the conduct of the CPS against other people too, in the 120 years it has existed, right from the time it was first established under the name of "vergeråd" – "protection committees".

What nonsense they speak, these prominent leaders of our society! The statements of the politicians, church officials and others say it all – one has to stop listening to these people, it leads nowhere. One has to stop expecting anything from them which really makes a difference, stop turning to them about matters which are not safely past and cost nothing for them to regret, but which are urgent as ever – now. One must, even as difficult as it seems, choose other directions, away from begging these blockheads possessed of power to "listen" while one tries to inform them rationally about the state of affairs. They are incompetent, superficial leaders without insight and integrity, authorising, as they do, various "professions" to practice intoxicating power and carry out cocksure abuse. One must change tack, away from choosing such leaders, if there is to be any hope of bringing about a change to the lack of insight, understanding and alertness in the Norwegian people.