Peter Wassing

Family protected from deportation by continuous church service get Dutch residence permit

The Tamrazyan family who spent months in Bethel church in The Hague to avoid being deported have been granted a residence permit.

They have lived in Holland for the last nine years but are originally from Armernia and had not obtained a residence permit to stay. The father, Sasun Tamrazyan, feared for his family's safety if they returned because he had been politically vocal in Armenia.

A caveat on deportation law in Holland called Kinderpardon was 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.

Therefore, 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".



After taking advantage of this loophole for 96 days, by staying in a church in The Hague and having an ongoing rota of preachers to come and take services, at the end of January it was decided that they would be pardoned and allowed to stay.

On Tuesday it was put in "black and white", as the protestant church put it, as the entire family received a residence permit.

They still have to pay €164 per family member (€ 820 for the whole family) to apply for the Kinderpardon - money which is being raised by selling the poetry written by eldest daughter Hayarpi while in Bethel Church.

The church said she thinks of the permit as a miracle. In her latest poem she writes:

"It is wonderful
How You did everything
Through hundreds of people
Through hundreds of hearts."



The church shelter was one of the factors that led to the new government agreement on the Kinderpardon, where the situation of about a thousand children will be reviewed.

Several other families have now received a permit because of the church's challenge to the law.



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