David Stark - Zarkonnen
2012-09-10: Fernanda Milan
(Warning: the following is all about violence against trans people and rape. Short version: Demo tonight at 5:30 at the Danish embassy in London against the deportation of a trans activist to Guatemala, where she'll likely end up dead.)
Fernanda Milan is transgender. She used to live in Guatemala, where she was an activist for trans rights. This made her a target for all sorts of nasty people: vigilante groups, corrupt parts of the police. It's estimated that around sixty trans people have been murdered there over the last decade, and dozens more have been disappeared. Being known as trans, and as an activist, put her into a lot of danger.
Eventually, she had to leave Guatemala and went to Denmark to ask for asylum. Now you might think that Denmark is a modern European country with a decent human rights record. Unfortunately, her experiences ran very much counter to that. Her hormone treatment was suspended and she was placed in a male dormitory, where she was raped repeatedly. She was then trafficked into a brothel in Jutland. She was eventually freed and is now staying with Reden International, an anti-trafficking organisation.
But: her request for asylum has been denied. She will be deported back to Guatemala in a week's time, on September 17. There, she faces a high likelyhood of becoming yet another victim of murder or disappearance.
Now, you might not believe, or not want to believe her story. You might even insist that there is no such thing as "real" transgender people. (Though you would be wrong.) The point is that here is a human being who will be placed in mortal danger back in Guatemala. She can't "recant" or "lie low" or "stay away from the bad parts of town". Based alone on what she has said and done already, she is marked for death.
And the Danish government are going to ship her there.
What can you do? Well, there's a demo tonight at 5:30, at the Danish embassy in London. If you are in London this evening, I urge you to go. And if I can find more than like two people in Zurich to join me I will organise a demo at the embassy there, time permitting.
And you can also write letters, but you have to write them right. Amnesty International's guidelines will serve you well there. (In short: be polite, don't go into politics, and make a concrete request - halting the deportation.)
Who to send it to? Based on my own research, I would suggest the following four recipients:
1. The Danish ambassador to your country. In the UK, this is:
Ms Anne Hedensted Steffensen
In Switzerland, it's:
Mr Hans Klingenberg
2. The prime minister of Denmark:
3. The Danish minister of justice:
4. The Danish refugee council:
I wrote the following letter, which you can use as a template. (Though I make no claim of it being especially amazing.) This letter by Natacha Kennedy is very good, if long.
I have recently become aware of the situation of Fernanda Milan, a human rights activist and asylum seeker. She is currently in Denmark, but is due to be deported back to Guatemala, where she faces threats to her life.
In Guatemala, Fernanda worked as a human rights activist for trans people, which made her a target for vigilante groups. More than sixty transgender people have been killed or disappeared there in the last decade.
I was shocked to discover that Denmark, an EU country with a good record on human rights, plans to deport Fernanda.
I understand that Denmark does not recognize being transgender as a criterion for asylum. However, the fact remains that due to being transgender, and due to her public engagement for human rights, Fernanda will be the target of vigilante groups and at great risk of being murdered or disappeared.
Fernanda is a human being who needs your help, and I ask you to give it. Please put a stop to her deportation.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.