A group of Roma immigrants have complained of “torture” and “terrorism” after security guards at a Malmö night café for homeless people refused to let them sleep on the premises.
On Friday night, the group erected a banner in Swedish and Romanian inside the café at Sorgenfri Folketshus, demanding the right to sleep, after they were woken up for two nights running.
“Vi vill bara sova” (We just want to sleep), the banner read.
On Wednesday and Thursday night, staff at the café began to wake up homeless people sleeping in the centre after Malmö fire department decreed that the premises were not fit for sleeping in. The municipality on Thursday and Friday hired security guards to try and enforce the ruling.
“Roma people that were in the building have described it as terrorism, as torture, that this is really, really horrible and that they can’t survive if this is continuing,” Saskia Gullstrand, from Solidarity with EU migrants, told The Local. “They can’t be awake all day and all night. It’s not physically possible.”
Mats Nilsson, from the local fire and rescue department, told Kvällsposten newspaper that the decision had been made for health and safety reasons.
“The location is not suitable for sleeping in. It’s up to Malmö municipality to solve this problem,” he said.
Gullstrand said the authorities had on Thursday at first allowed homeless people to sleep in the café, so long as they slept on blankets and not mattresses, before apparently changing their minds in the middle of the night. They then woke the homeless people up by shaking them and turning on the lights.
During Friday’s protest, she reported, the guards called in six policemen when the homeless people in the café refused to be roused. When the police judged that the protest was not in any way violent however, they left the premises.
Café staff and security guards then gave up trying to wake the hundred or so homeless people in the building, allowing them to sleep after about midnight.
With no night shelter in Malmö available for homeless European migrants, Gullstrand argued, the only other option was for the Roma to return to the makeshift camps they have erected both inside and on the outskirts of the city, where she said "people are living in horrible circumstances which are a completely new situation for Malmö and for Sweden".
Roma camps in and around Malmö have also been hit by several attacks, making the new migrants afraid to return to them.
"To open a night café seems nice on the surface but it doesn't come close to meeting the need there is for a safe indoor place for the homeless to sleep," she said.