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Protestors Stalled Traffic at Copenhagen Airport over Border Control Issues

This weekend, 800 Danes and Swedes congregated by the trains from Denmark to Sweden at Copenhagen Airport to protest the newly instated border control between the two countries.

Protestor faces off with security at CPH Airport. All pictures by Alexander Zehntner unless otherwise stated.

On January 9th, upwards of 800 Danes and Swedes congregated by the trains from Denmark to Sweden at Copenhagen Airport to protest the newly instated border control between the two countries. As of January 4th, the Swedish government requires everyone entering the country by train, bus, or ferry from Denmark to show a valid photo ID. The move is explicitly an effort to decrease the number of people entering Sweden to seek refuge. In response, the Danish government have implemented temporary border control towards Germany.


A mock passport made by protestor Salim Assi.

The newly tightened control at the borders have been criticized by the Swedish Green Party as well as several Danish left wing parties, which have called for joint European solutions and "stable agreements" between the two neighboring countries. Saturday the protestors voiced their opinions, calling for acceptance of refugees under slogans such as "Say it loud and say it clear, refugees are welcome here."

Søren Warburg of Refugees Welcome.

The Danish protestors met in central Copenhagen to receive instructions by Søren Warburg of Refugees Welcome, who organized the Danish side of the protest. "Everyone is pushing the responsibility on to their neighbor, but the fact is that no one can succeed alone," he told the crowd via megaphone, once they had reached the airport. Here they met up with the Swedish protestors led by Stellan Lindell of the Green Party, who told VICE: "[The protest] is a show of solidarity with the refugees who can't have their legal right to asylum sought in Sweden because they don't have any identification papers. The goal is to make the government listen to the massive critique and terminate the controls at the airport."

The Hjelmstedt-Krantz family. Photo by Theo Rogowski.

Among the protestors were Martin Hjelmstedt and Hiro Krantz who had brought along their kids Vilmer and Astrid. "There are thousands of reasons for not having a passport, and most refugees come here without one," said Hiro Krantz. "I grew up in Helsingborg, with Helsingør as the closest neighboring city. This is the first time in my life that I have had to show my passport when traveling between Denmark and Sweden. This is totally absurd, and it breaks my heart."


A small group of protestors succeeded in breaking through the checkpoints without showing identification, but their efforts were quickly shut down by the police. Due to this episode, trains between Denmark and Sweden were briefly cancelled. No arrests were made.

Salim Assi.

Protestor Salim Assi immigrated to Denmark in 1992 from Palestine and know better than most, what the refugees are going through: "I know how the refugees are feeling. I've been there," he told VICE. "They feel like shit. No one chose to leave their country for the fun of it. They come, because they have to. I believe, that by demonstrating here today, we can showcase, that not everyone supports the policy Denmark's leading these days."

Trains to Sweden resumed after around half an hour, but not all travelers took kindly to the delay: "Can't you just kick out the protesters?" a woman asked an airport security guard in the arrival hall. "Just go out on the platforms and threaten them with guns. Why don't you just threaten them with guns?" The guard politely explained that they wouldn't do that even if they had guns.

After some more timid confrontations between travelers and protesters in the arrivals hall, things quieted down. An orderly queue was formed to the re-opened checkpoints, where everyone going to Sweden presented a photo-ID, boarded the train, and went home - including the Swedish protestors.

Disgruntled traveller at CPH Airport. Photo by Theo Rogowski.

Back at Malmö central station, we asked the disgruntled traveler from CPH Airport, how she had perceived today's events. "What good does it do to stand around shouting, ruining everyone else's trip? They should get involved in politics instead," she said. "Too many people are coming here anyway, we can't take care of them all. Our schools and health care and economy will collapse. And we don't know what sympathies they have, or how they treat women. Haven't you seen how they treat their women?" she asked rhetorically, before running off to catch a connecting train.

Additional reporting by Andreas Digens.