January 29th marked the end of a 96-day-long service held by a Bethel Church that exercised the right to hold religious practices without police interference. The cause behind this strike was to protect an Armenian family of five that took refuge in the church in order to avoid deportation.
In 2013, a new law was introduced that interfered with the protection of children facing a similar threat of being deported. This law made the application process difficult to complete for most refugees. As a result, more than 700 families in the Netherlands currently face the threat of losing their homes.
Inside the church was Hayarpi, 21, Warduhi, 19, and Seyran Tamrazyan, 15. Alongside their parents, the family fled Amermenia in 2010 when the economy was facing political turmoil. The family then moved to the Netherlands where they stayed for nine years. Within the six years since years since the law was enacted, the Tamrazyan family had been threatened with deportation three times.
The kerkasiel, or church asylum, the family first escaped to only provided short-term care due to a lack of resources. The Tamrazyans then fled to The Hauge where hundreds of pastors across Europe traveled to the church to keep the church service going. In addition to holding religious ceremonies, church-members also provided a series of educational and psychological practices to help families adjust until they could continue their normal routines.
Though the strike has ended, the Tamrazyans continue to raise awareness of the issues regarding child deportation laws. Hayarpi commented “You have power. Please use it to help us and the 400 children like us. We are innocent.”
-Story by Taylor Rivers