Peter Wassing

96-day-long church service ends as family are allowed to stay in the Netherlands

A church that kept a family from deportation in the Netherlands have ended their continuous service as the family have been granted permission to stay.

The Tamrazyan family have lived in Holland for the last nine years but are originally from Armernia and had not obtained a residence permit to stay. Sasun Tamrazyan also feared for his family's safety becuase he had previously been political in Armenia.

On Tuesday, it was decided that the Tamrazyan family would be pardoned, alongside hundreds of other families in a similar position.

A caveat on deportation law called kinderpardon is meant to apply to children who have lived in the country for over five years but it is not enforced consistenty and many who apply are rejected.

The parents and three older children (21, 19 and 15) were at threat of being deported but Dutch law states that the police cannot enter a building "intended for religious or reflective meetings of a philosophical nature, during the worship or reflection meeting".

The Protestant Bethel church in The Hague therefore initiated a non-stop service on 26th October 2018, with hundreds of preachers across the country travelling to preach there and filibuster with sermons.

Chair of the General Council of the Protestant Church in The Hague, Theo Hettema said: "We are extremely grateful for a safe future for hundreds of refugee families in the Netherlands. For months we have held up hope and now that hope is taking shape.

"We are deeply impressed by all the predecessors, volunteers and others who have participated in this church shelter."

Rev René de Reuver, secretary of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands said: "The biblical call to love God over everything and the neighbor as yourself remains the guideline for the Protestant Church in its position for a humane solution to the refugee issue."

Hayarpi Tamrazyan, the eldest daughter, tweeted a lot of their activites throughout the family's time in the church and posted this week: "We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this wonderful #kerkasielBethel we have carried it together, with all the volunteers, predecessors, visitors etc #kinderpardon."

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