Norway’s child welfare agency, Barnevernet, removed all five children from the home of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu on November 16 and 17, 2015 after their two daughters were questioned in school (without an attorney to represent their parents) about their parents’ religious beliefs and home life.

This article describes the situation as of January 21, where despite tens of thousands of people protesting in cities all across Europe and North America, Barnevernet has not relented.

This subtitled interview shows Ruth and Marius interviewed later about what happened in November: no Miranda rights, no phone call, just questioning in the police station after their children were taken away.

More information can be found on the internet on both sides of the issue. Here’s an article presenting the Norwegian government’s point of view. It is interesting to read the comments to articles to get both sides. More information can be found with internet searches.

A Facebook page has information about efforts to free the children and reunite the family. A hearing will be held sometime in May. The baby has recently been returned to the family, but the older four children are still in foster care in different homes. The parents were allowed briefly to see their daughter, who reportedly had her head shaved.

A series of worldwide rallies is scheduled for April 16, 2016 to support the Bodnarius and push for reform to Barnevernet, which has been accused of overzealous activities in the past, especially against immigrant families.

Here are details of two of the rallies (at least 18 other cities in the USA, presumably also some in Canada):

10 a.m., Downtown Phoenix, Cesar Chavez Plaza, 201 Washington Street Phoenix AZ

2 p.m., Hart Plaza, downtown Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps a speaker will mention the nearby monument to the Underground Railroad – last stop to Canada and freedom for escaping slaves in pre-civil war America.

BodnariuProtestImage

Ironically, Norway is the country Pastor Richard Wurmbrand came to after being released from prison in Communist Romania in 1964. The 1972 biography I am reading about him, A Ransom for Wurmbrand, was written by a Romanian Jewish Christian (Anutza Moise) converted by Norwegian missionaries. His ransom from the Communist government was raised jointly by Jewish and Christian organizations.

In 1966, Richard Wurmbrand testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here’s a transcript of his testimony with some contemporary commentary.  Having spent 14 years in prison, Richard Wurmbrand was considered a firsthand expert on the evils of Communism, though not nearly as well-known as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others like Lech Walesa.

How things have changed in 50 short years. Despite no objective signs of child abuse or anything resembling a fair trial, now Norway is persecuting the Bodnarius, Christians from Romania and other countries, by removing their children, instead of giving them asylum as they did for Richard and Bintzea Wurmbrand.

Please pass the word about the April 16 Rally and the link to this article to local churches, mosques, synagogues and other people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds who care about religious liberty.

Consider calling local and national talk shows to raise awareness about the Bodnarius if it goes under-reported in the media.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Updated April 11, 2016 after some questions from Patch commenters:

There were indeed child abuse accusations (unproven!) made by Barnevernet, but they went on a fishing expedition that would not be allowed in this country (yet). Please read the articles linked in my article and read the comments to them before making a final judgment. Like thousands of others, I believe that Barnevernet needs reform. That’s why I am getting involved.

Physical abuse of the boys also reportedly occurred in the foster homes. Shaving the head of a girl would be considered abuse in my book.

A friend sent me this informative article by Peter Costea, a Houston civil rights attorney, which describes the sequence of events leading to the removal of the Bodnariu children from the home. Questioned in October by the school principal (who lived near the Bodnarius) after a fight with with a boy on the school bus, the two older girls (born in 2006 and 2008) revealed that their parents sometimes spanked them. By law she had to report the findings. To read the whole account, much of it based on legal filings, click on the link above.

Peter Costea also holds a PhD in diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, Massachusetts. Attorney Costea details their current location in separate foster homes four hours away and the clear violation of parental human rights subscribed to by Norway as signatory of the UN Convention of Human Rights. Below are excerpts from the concluding paragraphs.

“Clearly, something wrong is going on here, and the world should pay heed. The complaints that Barnevernet is targeting ethnic families are way too many to be ignored and have been lodged for far too long, without the Norwegian state doing anything about it. Concerned parents who escaped the Norwegian gulag of parental abuse, known as Barnevernet, have claimed, credibly, that Barnevernet is an arm of the Norwegian state entrusted with seizing ethnic children and placing them with Norwegian families to ensure the children grow up „Norwegian.” Barnevernet enforces a silent policy of demographic redistribution.”

Norway’s demographic crisis is acute and worsening. … At 5.2 million people, Norway’s population is considerably smaller than that of Houston’s metropolitan area. If ethnicity is an unwritten criteria for seizing children from their parents, and it appears to be, one can certainly say Norway is racist, has gone berserk and deserves to be stigmatized – worldwide.

There is some data to back this up. According to statistics posted on Barnevernet’s website, at the end of 2012 Norway had about one million and a half of young persons, aged 0 to 22. Almost 200,000 of them were children of immigrants. Transforming these children into Norwegians is a tall order, and here is where Barnevernet’s services come in handy. In 2013 it provided „help” to 53,000 children. For 17% of these children „help” came in the form of being taken away from their parents. Barnevernet refers to them as children „taken into care.” In raw numbers, this means that in 2013 alone Barnevernet abducted 12,467 children from their parents. In 2013 it issued 1,259 seizure orders, called, euphemistically, „care orders,” and in 2014, 1,504.”

(Certainly not all these children were unjustly seized and held as the Bodnariu children were, but the statistics point to a need for reform. A 19.5% increase in “care orders” could be a good thing if there is really that large an increase in child neglect in Norway, but one wonders about this given the facts of this particular case and others like it.)

Media Coverage in Europe

The BBC will have a half hour news special Friday, April 15 on the eve of the worldwide rallies. No doubt there will be TV coverage of the rallies in Europe. It remains to be seen what coverage will be given here in North America.

Norway: Parents Against the State

Our World

“Norway is widely regarded as one of the world’s most progressive societies, yet it’s at the centre of an international storm over its child protection policies. Campaigners say social workers remove children from their parents without justification, permanently erasing family bonds. A number of them are from immigrant backgrounds. Tim Whewell meets desperate parents who say they’ve lost their children because of misunderstood remarks or “insufficient eye contact” – and Norwegian professionals who call the child protection agency dysfunctional and dangerous. Is a system designed to put children first now out of control?”


Global Rally locations

Contact and informations at:bodnariu.protest@gmail.com

Global Protest April 16 – USA & Canada locations

(19 locations across USA & Canada)

Global Protest April 16 – Europe locations

(36 cities in 16 countries)

Global Protest April 16 – Australia & New Zealand locations

 

Conclusion

Ruth Bodnariu is a Norwegian-born nurse who met her husband in Romania while doing humanitarian work there. She has relatives in Norway. The Bodnarius live in a small town in the Fjord country north of Bergen. Their older four children are being held in separate towns four hours away. It’s a good sign that their baby has been returned.

Many other families, mostly immigrants, have had issues with Barnevernet taking their children away from them, but don’t know how to navigate the legal system.

It’s rare for a lawyer to win a case against Barnevernet. One Norwegian lawyer who has previously represented families and won will no longer take cases for fear of losing his license.

It’s not just Christians who are being targeted. An Indian family reportedly had their children removed because they eat with their hands: “unsanitary.” It’s ironic that many people worldwide find the Indian dining experience something they like.

Other articles

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1. Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.

Dale Murrish writes on historytravel, technology, religion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have recently been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.