On the evening of January 12, 2011, 25-year-old Maria Amelie, Russian-born writer and asylum seeker, was arrested for breaking Norweigan immigration law after drawing attention to her situation in her book, Illegally Norwegian. Norwegian PEN and other human rights organizations in Norway, react on this encroachment against a writer and the criminalization of a free, Norwegian voice.

UPDATE: Maria Amelie has since been deported to Russia.

Background Information

Maria Amelie arrived in Norway with her parents when she was still a child. she traveled first from Russia to Finland in 2000, then on to Norway in 2002. The family applied for asylum, but was turned down in 2004. For more than eight years she has been living in Norway without an official or legal permit. In spite of this she speaks Norwegian and lives a normal life, but like thousands of asylum seekers without the necessary legal papers, she has no right to stay, take work, or receive any medical treatment. In spite of this she has completed a Norwegian education including a masters degeree without a social security number, an ATM card, or other types of identification.
Last fall her book, Illegally Norwegian, an account of her life as an asylum seeker with no rights in Norway, was published. This book has given a name and a face to a huge problem in the country. In doing this, she has used her right to express herself and the right to write; her publisher has used his right to publish. If she had decided to remain silent, and had not turned herself into a public figure, defending all asylum seekers in the same situation as herself, it is highly unlikely that she would have been deported.
According to a joint statement, published in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, Norwegian PEN, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Amnesty Norway, stated:
Amelie arrived in Norway when only a child. She has completed higher education and a remarkable effort to be a part of the Norwegian society by focusing on the situation for the so called “paperless” asylum seekers. At 25 she has contributed more to Norwegian public debate than most of us do in a lifetime.
From both a political and moral aspect, the detention of Amelie is a deplorable act. She left Russia when she was a child because her parents brought her with them. During the past eight years she has established a vast network and in every way tried to live as an honest citizen – except for this one issue, that she actually stayed in Norway. But in doing so she also followed a tradition enriching to our democracy – the demonstration of civil disobedience against laws perceived as unjust.
This is not about Maria Amelie and how outstanding she is. All asylum seekers should be treated in the same way in legal matters, and there are many "paperless" asylum seekers like her in Norway. But if there is no room for reason and humane considerations in single cases like this, the law has no function. A police action like this against a single woman – is this the kind of Norway we want?  We demand that our minister of justice, Knut Storberget, stops this disgraceful deportation of a brave woman who has alerted our society about an invisible problem: the destiny of paperless asylum seekers all over Europe.”

Write A Letter

  • Condemning the deportation of Maria Amelie.

Send Your Letter To

Knut Storberget
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
P.O. Box 8005 Dep
0030 Oslo
Email: postmottak@jd.dep.no