As a train supposedly carrying a large number of refugees from Hamburg to Copenhagen Central station pulled up to platform 2, hundreds of people waiting on the platform started clapping and cheering. But, their applause was in vain, as only a handful of passengers disembarked the train – none of them appeared to be refugees.
Speculation amongst the welcomers was that police had forced the refugees off the train at Rødbyhavn Station, taking their passports to prevent them from travelling further.
“We have been waiting all day for the refugees to arrive on this train and earlier trains” says Alejandra, a woman holding a Refugees Welcome-sign. “We have heard that the police made the refugees get off the train in Rødbyhavn and have taken their passports from them, so that they cannot travel on to Sweden.”
Made to get off at Rødbyhavn
Mark, a German passenger who disembarked the train meant to be carrying the refugees at the platform, explained that while he was allowed to travel on towards Copenhagen, all of the refugees were forced to get off the train at Rødbyhavn Station.
“The police said that the refugees had to get off so that they could have their passports checked at Rødbyhavn. I however, was allowed to travel on,” he says.
Feel like a human being
The sizeable group – over 100 hundred at a guess – had prepared signs and large quantities of food and water to be given to the travelling refugees
Fate Tiftikci, who is holding a sign staying “You are welcome” in Kurdish, explains her reasons for being on the platform.
“I’m here to welcome the refugees who have been through hell. The Danish government is so strict; they make refugees feel unwelcome. So we are here to show that they are indeed welcome. I feel for their suffering – I’m Kurdish and the Kurds have also been through hell. But really I am here because I feel like a human being.”
Mohamed Ali, a Somalian refugee who arrived in Denmark in 1995, sees a clear difference between Swedish and Danish legislation concerning refugees.
“The political climate is not welcoming, you can see from the laws, which have been criticized by the UN. Those laws are discriminatory. This creates an integration problem because if they do not feel welcomed, why should they try to become involved at all? The difference between Sweden and Denmark is clear. Swedish politicians are saying refugees are welcome because their country is at war. Denmark, however, has joined the coalition and is bombing Syria and Iraq, but is not welcoming refugees.
He adds: “I have come here because the political climate does not welcome refugees, so it’s up to civil society to do it. I wish that someone would have stood and welcomed me when I arrived.”
When Mohamed Ali arrived in Denmark in 1995 there was no one waiting to bid him welcome. This time, there were no refugees to welcome. M
Additional reporting and images by Peter Stanners