Czech President Zeman: "Barnevernet, the Child Welfare Service of Norway, are gangsters who kidnap children"
17. 1. 2016
"Barnevernet, the Child Welfare Service of Norway, are gangsters who essentially kidnap children," said Czech President Miloš Zeman in his interview for the Czech tabloid newspaper Blesk. Zeman regards the help which the Czech government offers to the parents whose children have been placed into care in Norway, as insufficient. He wants the Czech government to recall the Czech ambassador to Norway for consultations. "Barnevernet is a state within a state," said Zeman. "Any organisation which is not supervised from above, does just what it wants and it degenerates," said Zeman. In his view, Barnevernet's decision to place children into care "are disgusting deeds by gangsters".
Czech media and some activists have been running a campaign against Barnevernet for placing into care the two children of Eva Michaláková in May 2011. The mother of the children was suspected of neglecting and sexually abusing them. The suspicion was not confirmed by the Norwegian police, but a Norwegian court decided that the two boys, who are now aged 6 and 11, were under threat from their mother and ordered that they should remain in care. The boys do not want to return to their mother or even to meet her. Eva Michaláková has been bitterly complaining about the case to the Czech media which have been running a major campaign against Barnevernet in her support. The subtext of the campaign is "evil foreigners are taking away our, Czech, children, and making them foreign". There are implicit links in the campaign to the practice of Germanisation of some fair-haired Czech children by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Early in January 2016, the xenophobic atmosphere intensified in the Czech Republic when it became known that Barnevernet has now taken a nine-month old girl from her Czech mother and Norwegian father. The reason for this is allegedly an insufficiently developed relationship between the parents and the child. The girl is suffering from a serious kidney disease and is undergoing treatment in Norway. Her parents had said that if the treatment is too demanding and the baby cannot cope with it, they want the treatment to stop and let the baby die. The Norwegian social welfare authorities seem to regard this as unacceptable.
On Saturday 16th January, 2016, hundreds of people demonstrated in Prague against Barnevernet. In their criticism of Norway and its social services, the activists are given support by Tomáš Zdechovský, a EuroMP for the Czech People's Party, and Petr Mach, a EuroMP for the extreme right wing "Party of the Free".
The Czech anti-Norwegian protests happen to coincide with a campaign led by Russia against Norway against the so called "juvenile justice". Anti-Norwegian Russian activists have been conducting a campaign against “evil Western authorities”, especially in Norway, which “steal children from families”. Hundreds of children are placed into care annually by the Czech authorities in the Czech Republic, as are often children of Czech and Slovak parents in the United Kingdom, but no one in the Czech Republic seems to be protesting against this.