The original Chindits [77th battalion] were a guerrilla unit led by the swashbuckling British commander Major General Orde Wingate, one of the pioneers of modern unconventional warfare. They operated deep behind Japanese lines in Burma between 1942 and 1945 and their missions were often of questionable success.
Over the past few days, the first of 500 Syrian asylum seekers arrived to take up three-month residency at a state-run dormitory in the center of town.
Last month, as locals watched the news of streams of migrants winding their way through Europe, the town held a special referendum: 97 percent voted to oppose reopening the Slovak government’s refugee facility.
“We’re not haters,”said Zoltan Jakus, one of the organizers of the vote. “But I think this will end badly.”
With the refugee crisis escalating, European Union leaders last week approved a plan to spread 120,000 asylum seekers across 28 nations on the continent, over the objections of Central European countries. Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia voted against the measure, a rare note of discord.
The residents of Gabcikovo wonder why wars and unrest thousands of miles away, involving Muslims, should be their business.
Gabcikovo is a town of 5,000 residents, where pensioners ride bicycles along quiet lanes lined with sturdy houses, many with overflowing gardens and ceramic gnomes, where everybody knows not only your name, but also what football club you support and what beer you drink. Most of them speak Hungarian and are Catholic.
The people of Gabcikovo say they are not cold-hearted or racist, but they are clearly worried, and many of them are asking the same questions as other Europeans who feel uneasy about the rising numbers of war refugees and economic migrants.
“Who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they here?” said Daniel Koczkas, 27, who works at a coffee distributor and has lived in Gabcikovo all his life.
He waved a greeting to his mother, who was passing by on her bicycle. “We have no problem with different colors,” Koczkas said, “but we don’t know them.”
- The Swedes see the welfare systems failing them. Swedes have had to get used to the government prioritizing refugees and migrants above native Swedes.
- "There are no apartments, no jobs, we don't dare go shopping anymore [without a gun], but we're supposed to think everything's great. ... Women and girls are raped by these non-European men, who come here claiming they are unaccompanied children, even though they are grown men. ... You Cabinet Ministers live in your fancy residential neighborhoods, with only Swedish neighbors. It should be obligatory for all politicians to live for at least three months in an area consisting mostly of immigrants... [and] have to use public transport." -- Laila, to the Prime Minister.
- "Instead of torchlight processions against racism, we need a Prime Minister who speaks out against the violence... Unite everyone. ... Do not make it a racism thing." -- Anders, to the Prime Minister.
- "In all honesty, I don't even feel they [government ministers] see the problems... There is no one in those meetings who can tell them what real life looks like." – Laila, on the response she received from the government.
Carola Herlin, Director of the Moro Backe Health Center, was murdered on August 10, along with her son, in the IKEA store in Västerås, Sweden.
Now, Swedes see the welfare system failing them. More and more senior citizens fall into the "indigent" category; close to 800,000 of Sweden's 2.1 million retirees, despite having worked their whole lives, are forced to live on between 4,500 and 5,500 kronor ($545 - $665) a month. Meanwhile, seniors who immigrate to Sweden receive the so-called "elderly support subsidy" -- usually a higher amount -- even though they have never paid any taxes in Sweden.
Worse, in 2013 the government decided that people staying in the country illegally have a right to virtually free health and dental care. So while the destitute Swedish senior citizen must choose between paying 100,000 kronor ($12,000) to get new teeth or living toothless, a person who does not even have the right to stay in Sweden can get his teeth fixed for 50 kronor ($6).
The injustice, the housing shortage, the chaos surrounding refugee housing units and the sharp slide of Swedish students in PISA tests -- all these changes have caused the Swedes to become disillusioned. The last straw was that Prime Minister Löfven had nothing to say about the murders at IKEA.
Gatestone Institute contacted to the Swedish government, to obtain emails sent to the Prime Minister concerning the IKEA murders. According to the "principle of public access to official documents," all Swedes have the right to study public documents kept by authorities -- with no questions asked about one's identity or purpose. The government, however, was clearly less than enthusiastic about sharing the emails: It took a full month of reminders and phone calls before they complied with the request.
What follows are excerpts from emails sent from private citizens to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven:
From Mattias, a social worker and father of four, "a dad who wants my kids to grow up in Sweden the way I had the good fortune of doing, without explosions, hand grenades, car fires, violence, rape and murder at IKEA":
"Hi Stefan. I am a 43-year-old father of four, who is trying to explain to my children, ages 6-16, what is going on in Sweden. I am sad to say that you and your party close your eyes to what is happening in Sweden. All the things that are happening [are] due to the unchecked influx from abroad. You are creating a hidden hatred in Sweden. We are dissatisfied with the way immigration is handled in Sweden, from asylum housing to school issues. And it takes so long to get a job, many people give up before they even get close. Mattias"Marcus, 21, wrote:
"Hi Stefan, I am one of the people who voted for you. I live in Helsingborg, still with my parents because there are no apartments available. I can see where I live that as soon as an old person moves out, eight foreigners immediately move in: they just bypass us young, Swedish people in line. With all that is going on in Sweden -- rapes, robberies, the IKEA murders and so on -- why aren't non-Swedes sent back to their countries when they commit crimes? Of course we should help refugees, but they should be the right kind of refugees. ... I'm sorry to say this, Stefan, but the Sweden Democrats should be allowed to rule for four years and remove the people who do not abide by the laws, and who murder or destroy young women's lives. It is horrible, I have a job that pays poorly because there are no jobs. Sweden has more people than jobs."Peter wrote:
"Esteemed Prime Minister. I am writing to you because I am very worried about the development in Swedish society. I am met daily by news of shootings, exploding hand grenades/bombs, beatings, rapes and murders. This is our Sweden, the country that, when you and I grew up, was considered one of the safest in the world.Sebastian wrote:
"You, in your role as Prime Minister, have a responsibility to protect everyone in the land, regardless of whether they were born here or not. Unfortunately, I can see that you are not taking your responsibility seriously. I follow the news daily, and despite our now having suffered another act of madness, this time against a mother and son at IKEA, I do not see any commitment from you? ...
"You should emphatically condemn the violent developments we see in this country, allocate resources to the police, customs and district attorneys to slow and fight back (not just build levees and overlook) criminal activity."
"Hi Stefan! After reading about the horrible deed at IKEA in Västerås, I am now wondering what you are going to do to make me feel safe going to stores and on the streets of Sweden. What changes will there be to make sure this never happens again? Will immigration really continue the same way?"Benny wrote:
"Hi, I'm wondering, why is the government quiet about such an awful incident? The whole summer has been characterized by extreme violence, shootings, knifings and explosions. The government needs to take vigorous action so we can feel safe."Laila's subject line reads: "Is it supposed to be like this?"
"Are we supposed to go outside without arming ourselves? Rape after rape occurs and no one is doing anything about it. I was born and raised in Vårby Gård, but seven years ago, we had to move because we couldn't take the dogs out in the evenings due to the non-Europeans driving on the sidewalks. If you didn't move out of the way, they would jump out of the car and hit you. If you called the police, they do nothing -- in a suburb of Stockholm. When my brother told some of these men off, a rocket (the kind you use at New Year's) appeared in his mailbox. You can imagine how loud the blast was. Women and girls are raped by these non-European men, who come here claiming they are unaccompanied children, even though they are grown men....Anders wrote:
"It is easy to get weapons today, I wonder if that is what we Swedes need to do, arm ourselves to dare to go shopping. Well, now I am getting to what happened at a major department store: Two people were killed and not just killed, there is talk online of beheading.
"The Prime Minister will not say a word, but resources are allocated to asylum housings, a slap in the face for the relatives who just had two of their kin slain. Swedish newspapers will not say a word, but fortunately, there are foreign newspapers that tell the truth. We Swedes can't change apartments, we live five people in three bedrooms. Two of us are unemployed, looking, looking and looking for work. The only option is employment agencies. I'm 50 years old, on part-time sick leave because of two chronic illnesses, I cannot run around from one place to another. But more and more asylum seekers keep coming in. There are no apartments, no jobs, we don't dare go shopping anymore, but we're supposed to think everything's great.
"Unfortunately, I believe the Prime Minister needs to start reading foreign newspaper to find out that Sweden is going under. I found out that the mass immigration costs billions every year, and the only thing the immigrants do is smoke waterpipes in places like Vårby Gård. This is happening in other places too, of course. Now it's starting to spread; you will see that in the opinion polls, next time they are published. Soon, all Swedes will vote for the Sweden Democrats. They are getting more and more supporters every day.
"You Cabinet Ministers do not live in the exposed areas, you live in your fancy residential neighborhoods, with only Swedish neighbors. It should be obligatory for all politicians to live for at least three months in an area consisting mostly of immigrants, the car should be taken from you so you'd have to use public transport. ... After three months, you would see my point.
"I am scared stiff of what is happening in this country. What will the government do about this?"
"Hi Stefan, why don't you, as our Prime Minister, react more against all the violence that is escalating in our country? [Such as] the double murder at IKEA in Västerås. Add to that the bombings and other things happening in Malmö. Instead of torchlight processions against racism, we need a Prime Minister who speaks out against the violence, who says that it's wrong no matter which ethnic group is behind it or at the receiving end of it.Some of the people received a reply from Carl-Johan Friman, of the Government Offices Communications Unit; others have not received any reply at all. A typical response goes:
"Because all the people living in Sweden are Swedish, right? A torchlight procession against racism only highlights the fact that it's immigrants committing these crimes. What we need now is a clear signal from our popularly elected [officials] that violence needs to stop now. Sweden is supposed to be a haven away from violence.
"I'm asking you as our Prime Minister, take a stand against the violence. Unite everyone in Sweden into one group and do not make it a racism thing."
"Thank you for your email to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. I've been asked to reply and confirm that your email has reached the Prime Minister's Office and is now available for the Prime Minister and his staff. It is of course not acceptable that people should be exposed to violence and criminal activities in their everyday life. Many efforts are made to counteract violence, and quite correctly, this needs to be done without pitting groups against each other. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your views, they are important in shaping government policies."Gatestone Institute contacted Laila, one of the people who emailed, and asked her if she was satisfied with the answer she got. Laila replied:
"No, I'm not satisfied with the answer, because they didn't even respond to what I was talking about. In all honesty, I don't even feel they see the problems. They're talking about what it looks like when they have their meetings, but there's no one in those meetings who can tell them what real life looks like. It feels like the answer I got was just a bunch of nonsense. They understand that people are scared. They talk about demonstrating against racism; they seem to be completely lost. The politicians do not understand how things work in Swedish society, because they live in their safe, snug neighborhoods where things are quiet. But a lot of Swedes are forced to live in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, because they cannot afford an apartment somewhere else."The anger at the government's non-reaction to the IKEA-murders also led to a demonstration at Sergels Torg, Stockholm's main public square, on September 15. Hundreds of protesters demanded the government's resignation, and held a minute of silence for the slain mother and son, Carola and Emil Herlin. The organizers plan to hold similar protests every month throughout Sweden.
Ingrid Carlqvist, a journalist and author based in Sweden, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone institute.
Just before 13 o'clock the participants formed a human wall on the Finnish side of the border between Sweden and Finland.
- We are opposed to so many asylum seekers coming to Finland. They have come through lots of safe European countries before they reached Finland, and they should have stayed there, said a middle-aged couple to YLE, during the demonstration.
- We have just seen men, no families. They are welfare refugees and therefore we protest, said the man.
The woman suggested that Finland instead should take in refugees from refugee camps in the world.
About twenty refugees turned around because of the threatening atmosphere.
- They felt threatened and were simply afraid, says volunteer, Inger Asplund, to P4.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo says that the stricter stance means that all foreigners who illegally enter the country can not continue their journey before their cases have been dealt with. It is not about that the border control has been reintroduced.
Orpo also says that it is the police who have the main responsibility in the matter.
Police will from now on immediately make contact with anyone seeking asylum, at the border. Asylum seekers will be quartered and their asylum application will then be processed rapidly. If the applicant does not have the conditions for asylum, deportation follows.
- It is first and foremost that we must bring the situation under control. This is the way.
The Minister also said that Finland can not have a situation where hundreds of asylum seekers move around freely.