• Sweden edition
 

Ethiopian delegates 'too poor' for Sweden visas

Published: 19 Jun 2011 15:37 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jun 2011 15:37 GMT+02:00

The delegates had applied for visas to attend the Indigenous Terra Madre conference in Jokkmokk, the world’s first conference for indigenous people from around the world to discuss sustainable agricultural practices.

The Embassy of Sweden in Addis Ababa claimed that, despite guarantees issued by conference organisers, the "risk of flight was too high" and that the "individuals were assessed as unestablished in their country and are largely lacking resources."

In addition, indigenous delegates from Kenya, Cameroon and Niger, who also intended on participating in the conference, were denied from travelling out of their homelands, however these decisions did not involve Swedish embassies.

In a statement, the conference organisers accused Sweden of violating the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that indigenous peoples, especially those who are divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperations, and that member nations shall facilitate the exercise of this right.

“This is contrary to the human rights that the UN has established and is applicable to indigenous people as well as for all people. It is discriminatory under the UN Declaration on Discrimination and from the European Convention,” Ol Johan Sikku, president of Slow Food Sápmi, the main organizer of the event, said in a statement.

The Indigenous Terra Madre took place at the weekend in Jokkmokk and brought together more than 200 delegates from 50 different groups of indigenous peoples from around the world to discuss food, climate and sustainable living.

The forum was organised by Slow Food Sápmi, Slow Food i Sverige, and Slow Food International.

Many delegates at the conference, which included farmers, sheep farmers and small-scale producers from the different indigenous groups, had never been outside their home countries.

The goal of the forum was to exchange expertise and traditional knowledge about sustainable use of natural resources that can contribute to developing good, clean and fair food systems.

“We indigenous people have more in common than what divides us. We need to speak with one voice and share a common strategy. We hope to organize ourselves to determine our strength,” Sikku said in the statement.

One of the main contentions raised during the weekend’s conference was the issue of biodiversity and the risks to the mono-culture that is spreading in context of large-scale food production, which has become increasingly common in many countries.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

Your comments about this article

16:48 June 19, 2011 by edpe71
This is a tricky balancing act for the visa issuers to consider. There is a history of people going on the run when they come to western countries for legitimate events. African soccer teams absconding in France and Soviet Olympians defecting during the cold war.

In the UK, Australia and the US you have to prove that you can financially support yourself without coming back to the state for help during the time of your visit. If you can't then you can't enter the country regardless if you are a western tourist or something else.

This is just the way the world is now and the visa issuer has to make a judgement call, right or wrong.
17:10 June 19, 2011 by GLO
Welcome to the real world, grow up.
17:27 June 19, 2011 by swedejane
I don't see the problem here. The visa rules are not being inappropriately applied in a discriminatory way. All of us traveling to Sweden, or living here as ex-pats, fall under the same rules. If the conference organizers are so upset about it then they should reach into their own pockets and deposit the necessary funds to enable these people to comply with the law.
17:47 June 19, 2011 by Iraniboy
This is not just for Sweden. Everyone who apply for a Visa to any country should prove that they have enough money or commodity at home. This situation can be serious in case of US and Canada because they may even reject even if you fulfill their requirements!! so at least in case of Schengen you know what you should do to get Visa!
18:26 June 19, 2011 by hjoian
if you read the article you should have noted that the orginisers were acting as guarentee/sponsers for the individuals.

@swedejane, again,if you read the article,you will find that the orginsers were putting their hands in their pockets by acting as sponsers.

Human rights issues normally overide national law. As it is, it also states in the article that no Swedish embassy was involved in making this desicion.

As usual,too many comments from people who either cant be bothered to read, and in some cases have no idea of international or european travel rights.
18:43 June 19, 2011 by Rey Stockholm
I am sure there is better uses the money could be put to in Ethiopia than flying people to a "conference" - its not jstifiable and the visa issue masks the true problem of wasting money in africa

How many children could be immunised for the same cost for example ?
19:09 June 19, 2011 by Iraniboy
@hjoian

Unfortunately Human rights values are too unfamiliar for those who made the rules for visas all over teh world. I agree with you and your frustration over this but this is a discriminatory system all over the world. Surely Sweden cannot solve it all alone. As for sponser, unforttunately it is just one of thre requirements. It always needs a personal finantial assessment of applicant. One thing I can tell you from expperience is that Swedish national visa applications are slightly easier than average Schengen application. So in a way Sweden has more human approach in comparison with the rest of EU.
19:47 June 19, 2011 by swedejane
@hjoian

You might need to work on your reading comprehension. You're referring to this sentence: "despite guarantees issued by conference organisers"...which is not the same as putting up the necessary money to meet the visa requirements. All that sentence says is there was a verbal commitment by the organizers that no funny business (like defections) would happen.

Although, it's funny that you try and act smart...good boy, now go along and play with kids your own age.
19:48 June 19, 2011 by muscle
@Rey Stockholm: I agree with you. However, we should not forget that foreigners also act as marketing people who advertise about their country. Perhaps some of them will meet few businessmen here in Sweden, who would want to set up business in Ethiopia. Which may help more people then spending conference money on poor people directly

Of course this statement is based on the assumption that the delegates are going to think about their country first.
20:16 June 19, 2011 by DAVID T
They should have had the conference in Africa -
20:27 June 19, 2011 by wenddiver
Agree with Muscle- I think fair and balanced trade between equals would do more to assist Ethiopia than conferences.

The Ethiopians should be allowed to attend if the organizers post a suitable bond to ensure that they go home at the end. If they don't go home there is no point to the conference.

One of the most evil things that the West does is allowing Westernized people from third world countries to immigrate to the West, so that the third world countries never progress. Would the US, UK or Sweden appreciate it if some counry took ALL their Doctors and Engineers? A very harmful behavior, done under the guise of humanitaism.
21:48 June 19, 2011 by axiom
Unfortunate is it that these delegates did not get the chance to participate, one would think that a conference geared towards feeding indigenous people would have encourage and facilitated participation from African states which are often struggling to do this.

However, the rules are the rule. The person who made the judgement call quite likely did so in fulfillment of his/her duty which is the correct thing to do.

Perhaps the organizers should have taken a little foresight and planned it in a location more readily accessible by attendants. Quite like what is gradually happening with regards to academic conferences.
23:27 June 19, 2011 by J Jack
Violating UN Declaration of human rights is nothing new in Sweden, just check out the Swedish vsn of 'Fathers for Justice' and see how many estranged children have been denied contact with their Papa for periods of more than 10 years because the system allows their Mamma unofficial exemption from a declaration that they only pay lip service to.
00:25 June 20, 2011 by cutthecrap
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
01:07 June 20, 2011 by wiggerlandia
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
01:15 June 20, 2011 by Grokh
since when denying someone something for lacking resources is the same as not letting them do it because they are poor?

Maybe they should organise the conference with more organization, If i want to have a meeting with my friends we take the closest cheapest place , we dont travel to japan and tell them to pay for it -_-x.

Sorry no discrimination card can be played here, everyone has to follow the same rules i dont care how special or how much of a minority people think they are.
08:14 June 20, 2011 by sfk
All over the world, the indigenous people rights are violated and the same is goes to Sweden which is always proud of being modern society. It is not shocking. We should look at the mirror to see our discriminating nature.
09:07 June 20, 2011 by RobinHood
Over the years hundreds of people have been admitted to Sweden to participate in sporting and cultural events; often their fares generously paid by the Swedish tax payer. This generosity was often abused by people who "disappear", and later claim asylum. An entire African youth football team once declined to go home. The sheer number of occasions this happens makes it hard to believe people when they say they have no intention of betraying the trust and generosity of their hosts.

I do not blame the authorities for disbelieving the delegates. I blame the hundreds of people who came before them, who have now spoiled it for everyone else back in their home country.

There are proper ways to apply for asylum in Sweden. Use the correct procedures.
09:19 June 20, 2011 by occassional
How exactly is a conference in northern Sweden going to alleviate their poverty is the question?
09:34 June 20, 2011 by zircon
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:51 June 20, 2011 by aaww
Ethiopians to a conference in northern sweden? wake up!!!!!

lacking of economy support, no one should come!!! this is common sense in all modern countries visa approval.
10:54 June 20, 2011 by 15U
England is worse in terms of visa requirements
11:34 June 20, 2011 by dstergiou
I am probably stupid, but.. the indigenous (and probably lacking resources) people of Africa want to meet in Sweden to discuss how they can improve their lives?

Wouldn't it make more sense to meet in central Africa, where everyone would be closer to "home"?

Or Africa has suddenly became that rich, that can afford leisure trips to the other side of the world?

As for discrimination, a number of people explained it already perfectly. You don't fulfill the prerequisites, you don't get a visa. No discrimination, no nothing!
13:22 June 20, 2011 by BBEthio
Why does Sweden believe it is out of this world? This country only offers ball bearings, Volvo and Ikea to the world and thinks it is the most outstanding country of all. Wake up Svergie. Times will change. The fact that Ethiopia has closed most of its diplomatic ties with Sweden, because of no apparent importance of Sweden to Ethiopia, shows the extent to which Sweden has no interest in more than 80 million people.

Ethiopia happens to play a central role in uniting Africa evidenced by the fact that it hosts both the African Union and the ECA in its capital Addis Ababa. A show of disrespect for this country translates to a disinterest in the whole continent. Show offs!
16:31 June 20, 2011 by Swedesmith
Still doesn't change anything. Rules are rules.
17:24 June 20, 2011 by TheOneWhoTravels
"Sweden has denied visas to eight Ethiopians who were on their way to northern Sweden to participate in the a conference for indigenous people because the delegates were "lacking resources"."

Based on the content of this news article, I believe the correct decision was made in denying the visas.
15:31 June 21, 2011 by Marc the Texan
This conference sounds like nothing more than a scheme to smuggle impoverished people into the country so that they can claim benefits. Why don't they have the conference where these indigenous people come from? Honestly, how are subsistence farmers from Africa even able to afford a plane ticket? I was once denied entry into Canada for lacking money, even though it was a camping trip. The border cards wouldn't let me through because they said if anything happened that I might not be able to pay for myself. I was young and it was a long time ago, but I understood the reasons.
16:00 June 22, 2011 by zat_xela
@BBEthio

...ball bearings, Volvo and Ikea...that's all. And what has Ethiopia done for us lately.

Show me a country that has allowed more immigration per capita than Sweden. For Sweden to have denied these eight, they must have been very high risk.
20:04 June 23, 2011 by System
I had a friend from Ethiopia who got VISA for this conference.Im witness that he and all his mates who got VISA went back to Ethiopia after Jokkmukk conference.

There is no other reason for Ethiopian to come to Sweden unless they seek for study and political assaylum. Ethtiopia is on the stage of development. These days, no one wants to come to sweden and look for life opportunity. There is no better opportunity in sweden....no jobs... no social life
21:16 July 6, 2011 by manf2020
The funny thing though is that two Swedes journalists caught red handed while trying to cross to Ethiopia through Somalian border illegally. What a shameful.. At least Ethiopian journalists request visas.
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