For the last month, a church has done something truly amazing to protect a refugee family

Candles in a church
Emily Apple

For the last month, a Dutch church has been doing something truly amazing to protect a refugee family. The Bethel Church in The Hague has run 24-hour continuous services since 26 October to stop the authorities from deporting them. Under Dutch law, the police are not able to enter the building while services are going on.

The family

The Tamrazyan family lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years. They escaped from Armenia after receiving death threats due to political activism. The family of five was initially granted asylum. But the government appealed. And in September, the family learnt that the state had issued a deportation order against them.

Hayarpi Tamrazyan, one of the children, appealed to social media. She said:

Th

is

week I can be expelled from the Netherlands after 9 years. On behalf of my brother and sister, I ask you for help.

 

The church

So the church stepped in, granting them asylum. In a statement, it highlighted its “dilemma”:

The Protestant Church of The Hague respects court orders, but finds itself confronted with a dilemma: the choice between respecting the government and protecting the rights of a child.

It continued:

The purpose of the Church Asylum is to create rest and safety for the family and to offer some respite to the family during which we invite politicians to discuss with us the family’s fate and the effects of the Child Amnesty Arrangement.

Continuous services

Since the church took them in, it has run continuous services with pastors taking over from one another to keep it going. Pastor Axel Wicke said he was “overwhelmed by the enormous amount of support” the church has received:

Support has come from the local people:

And from around the world:

Inspiring

The actions of all those involved in protecting the family at Bethel Church are inspiring. It’s an example of religion and direct action working at its best – directly protecting lives through compassion and empathy.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Dudva

Get involved

  • Tweet support for the church using the hashtag #KerkasielBethel
  • Support the End Deportations campaign

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