Tuesday, November 13, 2012

State ‘Kidnapping’ of Swedish Home-schooler Prompts International Outcry

Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by , TheNewAmerican.com: http://www.thenewamerican.com

The case of eight-year-old Domenic Johansson, separated from his family by Swedish authorities last year over his parents’ decision to legally home school him, has prompted an international outcry from human rights groups, American home schooling organizations, and activists on the World Wide Web.

Last summer, armed police seized the boy from an airplane without a warrant just as the family was about to move to the mother’s home country of India. Court documents show the original reason for taking Domenic was home schooling, which currently remains legal in Sweden.

Later, the court that upheld the government’s decision cited some unfilled cavities the family was planning to treat in India, and the fact that the boy had not received all of his “recommended” vaccines, which are technically optional under Swedish law.

Domenic has been separated from his parents ever since - with one-hour supervised visits permitted every five weeks. He is being subjected to various “psychiatric treatments,” which four separate sources independently described as “brainwashing.” According to the boy’s father, Christer Johansson, Domenic is not the same as before he was taken.

He had never in his life been sick, his Dad said - until he was seized by the government. Now, he has trouble remembering the names of his pets, family friends, and even his favorite hat. He’s also very depressed.

The boy’s mother, Annie, has been in shock since the day when police took her son. She barely gets out of bed and has been in the Emergency Room five times since then, according to Mr. Johansson.

“I’m still so shocked that I have trouble speaking about these things,” Mr. Johansson told The New American in a telephone interview. “To go through this in 2010 is outrageous - unbelievable really.”

He said the social services had been haranguing him for years about vaccines and kindergarten. “When I told them about home schooling and human rights, that’s when they started to get really nasty,” he said. Finally, the family decided to leave. But the government would not allow it. And now, the state is doing everything in its power to keep the family apart. 

“They’re trying to make us look bad at every court hearing, they’re manipulating facts, and they’re using socialist ideals saying that ‘we don’t believe this is good for Domenic, this is better for Domenic.’ They‘re really breaking us down,” Mr. Johansson said.

But the massive international outcry generated over this case has been a blessing, he added. “I thank God, actually, because without it, I don’t think I would be alive today,” he said, recounting the trauma of battling the government for his child while attempting to care for his wife.

“The support we have, I don’t even have time to reply to all of the mail,” he explained, adding that his allies come from literally all over the globe.  

“There is nothing else that I think about except that we’re going to get Domenic back,” he said.

“Annie has proved that she’s not going to continue to live unless Domenic comes back. We wanted to move from here because we don’t like this country anymore, and Annie needs to see her family - she hasn’t seen them in nine years … I won’t accept anything else except that he’s going to come back,” Mr. Johansson said, noting that they would probably leave for India as soon as Domenic is returned. “This is kidnapping, actually - if you don’t have any good reasons to take a child, it’s kidnapping.”

And international allies of the family agree - it’s state-sponsored kidnapping. The case has attracted a firestorm of international criticism, and some very heavy hitters have joined the family’s fight.

“We got involved because the home-schooling issue was implicated here and this was just such an outrageous violation of the family’s rights,” explained Michael Donnelly, the director for international relations and a staff attorney with the U.S.-based non-profit Home School Legal Defense Association.

In an interview with The New American, he explained that his organization has done a lot of work publicizing the case. They have also been in contact with Swedish officials, and are researching various options to move forward with a legal strategy.

“This case is so egregious … the way the social services in Gotland have treated this poor family is so shocking to the conscience of any human being,” Donnelly said.

“[The government employees] just don’t want to admit that they were wrong. If they return the boy they’d have to admit that they did a terrible, terrible thing - a terrible thing.” But despite the reluctance of social workers to acknowledge their mistake, “we hold out hope that justice will be done,” Donnelly added.

To read further, go to: http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/204-state-%E2%80%98kidnapping%E2%80%99-of-swedish-home-schooler-prompts-international-outcry
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