September 24, 2014

Swedish home education leader goes into political exile: “The dangers for the family were too great.”

Riksföreningen för Hemundervisning i Sverige – Rohus

“In the end, the safety of my family could no longer be guaranteed. The threats from Uppsala municipality were too many, too brutal, and every invitation to dialogue was turned down. The actions of the Uppsala local government could hardly be interpreted in any other way than as a hidden message of deportation”, says Jonas Himmelstrand, President of the Swedish Association for Home Education (ROHUS), regarding the silent move of his family from Sweden to the Aland Islands, Finland, in a form of political exile.

The Himmelstrands have had a conflict with Uppsala municipality about the right to home educate for three and a half years. The top Municipal Commissioner, Ms. Cecilia Forss of the Moderate Party, is politically responsible and claims to be well familiar with the case. From the start the lawyer for the municipality chose an extremely restrictive interpretation of the school law. After two years of struggle the Himmelstrands finally got a leave of appeal at the Kammarrätten, the Swedish mid-level court, where the verdict was still pending when the Himmelstrands left Sweden. Even with this leave of appeal, Uppsala municipality still directed a modern form of political persecution of the family which escalated in the months before the family left Sweden.

In November 2011 the principal of the school that was enrolling the Himmelstrand’s youngest home educated son reported the parents to the local social authorities. The report was filed the day after Jonas Himmelstrand debated home education on national radio with the chair of the Educational Committee of the Swedish Parliament, Margareta Pålsson of the Moderate Party. It is not known whether these events were connected or not. The reporting principal had never met Mr. Himmelstrand or his seven-year-old son. However, she did know that the Himmelstrand family were already homeschooling their 13 year old daughter and had now filed the application forms to home educate their son.  The principal reported the parents to the social authorities stating in three sentences that she was concerned that the child was not in school. When directly questioned she said it was ”routine” to submit such a report. No higher official has yet responded as to the legal nature of this ”routine” report which appears to be calculated hostility towards the family.

Jonas Himmelstrand met with the social authorities without his son. The social worker was somewhat surprised at the minimal information the principal had provided and the fact that no meeting had taken place before the report was submitted.  The social authorities decided not to do any further investigation of the family. In their report they concluded that this was a question for educational law and not a matter for the social authorities. The Himmelstrands were lucky. Not everyone called to the Swedish social authorities has been this lucky. Every Swedish home educator knows about Dominic Johansson who was taken into custody for home educating. Before leaving the social services office, Jonas Himmelstrand asked if the safety of the family could be guaranteed while home educating in Sweden. He was told that if he wanted to home educate safely he should leave Sweden.

Just before Christmas the Children’s Board of the Uppsala municipality, led by Ms. Cecilia Forss, applied at court for a fine of $26,000 USD for home schooling one child, the Himmelstrand’s daughter, for the school year 2010-2011. According to ROHUS sources, this amount is nearly ten times higher than any homeschooling family has been assessed in recent years.  ”It is hard to interpret this excessive amount in any other way than as a punishment for being President for ROHUS and for my international criticism of Swedish family policies”, says Jonas Himmelstrand.

During 2011 Jonas Himmelstrand presented a critical view of Swedish family policies, based on his own research, in nine cities in eight countries on two continents, including the UN in New York. This was done in the role of family research expert at the Swedish family association Haro, and as the founder of the Mireja Institute, a Swedish secular pro-family think-tank. Jonas Himmelstrand is also the chairman of the board of the world’s first global home education conference, scheduled to take place in Central Europe in November 2012.

After being informed about the $26,000 USD fine, Jonas Himmelstrand wrote a sharply worded letter to Ms. Cecilia Forss and asked if she felt it was reasonable to devastate the financial stability of a family for the sake of a controversial political principle. Mr. Himmelstrand also wrote that he perceived the threat to the family of a sum which they could never pay to be a form of hidden deportation. Ms. Cecilia Forss chose not to answer the letter directly. However, two weeks later a letter arrived with another decision from the Children’s Board, again led by Ms.  Cecilia Forss, asking the court for a new fine for the current school year of approximately $15,000 USD.

”It is not possible to live in a country where leading politicians are ready to financially ruin a family for the sake of ideology, and threaten families with the sometimes incompetent, but always powerful Swedish social authorities. Beyond that, they have refused every invitation to meet and discuss the situation. It is not healthy to live under such stress,” says Jonas Himmelstrand.

The Himmelstrand family quietly left Sweden in early February and are today living on the Aland Islands in Finland, where home education is allowed under Finnish law. ”It is an incredible relief, and only now are we starting to understand the degree of pressure we have lived under for many years”, says Jonas Himmelstrand. ”At the same time it is an almost surreal experience to be forced to leave Sweden for an issue which in most of the democratic world, and by the UN, is regarded as a human right.”

The Himmelstrands are not alone in leaving Sweden and living in exile due to their desire to home educate. During the last two years about a dozen families have left Sweden for the same reason. ”We have several Swedish home educating families as neighbors on the Aland Islands,” says Jonas Himmelstrand.

Even if half of the board members now live in exile in Denmark and on the Aland Islands in no way will this diminish the work of ROHUS. ”In fact, we will be more effective when we do not feel our families are under threat”, says Jonas Himmelstrand.

Home education is regarded by the UN as a valid form of education under the concept of ”the right of education”. Home education is permitted in most of the world’s democracies with the exception of Germany (under their school law of 1938) and now Sweden. The research on home education shows excellent student results both academically and socially. Removing the choice to home educate must therefore be seen as an infringement on a human right.  Those who are punished for home education must be seen as politically persecuted, and those who are forced to emigrate as going into political exile.

To read this article to to:

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/view/pressrelease/swedish-home-education-leader-goes-into-political-exile-the-dangers-for-the-family-were-too-great-737463

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 24 February 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

http://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

http://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational:
http://hef.org.nz/category/all-about-education/

Christer Johansson has less rights than thieves, rapists and murderers

Christer Johansson has less rights than

thieves, rapists and murderers

Domenic and Dad, a close, loving relationship.

On Monday, November 22, 2010, a distraught Christer Johansson left a social services state supervised visit, taking his only child, Domenic, with him. Johansson did not have permission to take his son home, but did so in response to 18 months of pleas by Domenic to be allowed to go home to the family he loves and misses. After calling authorities on Wednesday, November 24th to turn himself in, Johansson now sits in a Visby, Sweden jail cell. All of the citizens of the Swedish island of Gotland have been breathing a sigh of relief ever since Johasson’s incarceration. And rightly so! The lives of Gotland’s citizens are much safer now that this loving, caring, gentle and sensitive father and husband is safely locked behind bars.

Today, December 20, 2010, Christer Johansson was brought before a Swedish judge to face trial for his crimes against Sweden. While we do not yet know the outcome of this “trial” what we do know in leading up to today’s legal circus is that Christer Johansson has less rights than Swedish thieves, rapists and murderers.

Since November 24th, the behind-the-scenes legal battle has focused on securing the best possible defense for Johansson, who has requested representation by Trygve Emstedt, Gävle, a lawyer with 30 years experience specializing in human rights. Incorporated into Sweden’s constitution in January 1995, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), under Article 6, guarantees every Swedish citizen the right to choose their own representative and the right to a fair trial as provided within the foundation of a legally secure process.

Father and son, a strong, loving bond.

In direct defiance of Swedish and European Union laws, Gotland City Courts have refused Johansson’s guaranteed rights by rejecting his appeal for of a defense by Emstedt and has instead continues to maintain Shantu Brahmbhatt as his public defender.  Apparently, everyone in Sweden enjoys the guarantee of ECHR Article 6 except Christer Johansson.

There two very good reasons why Johansson has rejected Brahmbhatt as his counsel. First, having only recently been accepted to the bar in June 2010, Brahmbhatt has only negligible and even questionable experience before the court. Naturally, Johnasson desires, and is guaranteed, to exercise his right to obtain the best defense available while he defends his right to liberty.

Secondly, Johansson is only too aware of Brahmbhatt’s inept legal counsel, for it is Brahmbhatt who was appointed by Gotland City Courts to defend Annie Johansson’s rights as Domenic’s mother. All who have been following the Johansson case since 2009 realize Brahmbhatt, as Annie Johansson’s defender, has done little more than appear before Gotland’s courts and has simply followed the edicts of Gotland Social Services. To date, Brahmabhatt has never forged an independent defense of Annie Johansson’s rights, therefore it is not to be expected that she would forge an independent defense of Christer Johansson before the Gotland bench today. Earlier this year, Annie Johansson appealed to the courts to have Brahmabhatt removed as her public defender. Her appeal was met with a thumbing by the Swedish courts, as well.

In addition to fact that Article 6 of the ECHR, ratified in Sweden’s constitution, guarantees Christer Johansson the choice of legal representation, the aforementioned reasons should have been enough for Gotland City Courts to grant Johansson new legal counsel. However, as we’ve witnessed since June 25, 2009, when armed police swarmed an India bound jet just before it taxied the runway at Sweden’s Stockholm-Arlanda Airport removing then 7 year-old Domenic without a warrant and without ever charging Christer and Annie Johansson with a crime, Sweden’s courts, especially those on Gotland Island, seem to operate under their own laws of justice, ignoring the rights of this family under Sweden’s constitution and the ECHR.

Below is translated text from a story out of Sweden regarding Christer’s trail today


Dad on trial for kidnapping
I only wanted to see my son. That’s how the man in his 40′s explained it who was today on trial for illegally having abducted his son placed into foster care.

It was last November, when the man was meant to have had a supervised meeting with his son, that he pulled his son into his car and drove away. For a couple of days he kept his son with him before the police could arrest him.

Today the main proceedings took place at Gotland district court. The prosecution against the man was charged as kidnapping, or possibly illegal deprivation of liberty.

The man explained his actions with having to see his son, but he doesn’t feel he’s committed any crime.

The court considers it proven that he’s committed the acts he’s been indicted for, but before a sentence and sanction is delivered, he’s to go through a major investigation by forensic psychiatry.

Hence the main proceedings won’t end for another four weeks. Until then the man remains in jail.

********************
In another news account from Sweden, we’ve learned that Domenic gave a video testimony regarding the time he spent with his father and family after Christer took him home for a few days. According to the news account, Domenic told the court that when his father took him, he was scared at first but then he thought it was really great to be with his father and other relatives. He described his time away from state care as an adventure and had nothing negative to say about the experience.

This story can be found here:
http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=94&artikel=4250998

For more information go to:  http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com

URGENT ACTION: Johansson in Sweden

We have just received a comment from:  http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com/

“It’s NOT TOO LATE to send letters and postcards via regular post. The judge will not render a decision on the 20th. Instead, he just hears the case. Email now, send a letter by regular post NOW, too!

Thank you for caring about this innocent family!”

So please send letters/postcards and emails. We have just sent two letters from our home in Palmerston North, New Zealand as well as emails.

It costs $2.40 to send a letter to Sweden from New Zealand.

If you have not sent a letter and/or email then please do so TODAY.

For more information:  http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com/

or  http://hef.org.nz/2010/immediate-action-needed-for-christer-johansson-domenics-father/

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED for Christer Johansson, Domenic’s father

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED

Dear friends and supporters of Domenic Johansson,
As you might have heard and/or read, Domenic’s father, Christer Johansson, is in prison awaiting trial on the 20th December 2010. He was arrested after bringing Domenic home after a supervised meeting. These extremely rare meetings of 1 hour every 5 weeks and under close watch of authorities have been torture for this family, who have suffered unimaginable psychological stress and pressure. Imagine only being allowed to see your young child for this limited time over the last 18 months. They have not even been allowed to see Domenic on his birthday and holidays.

Christer has also been denied his right to choose his own legal representative twice.

We really want to bring this issue into focus and show our support for Christer in the upcoming trial on the 20th. Because travel ticket prices are high to the island of Gotland due to the impending holiday season, our initial thought of getting a group of supporters to go to Gotland in person and hold a peaceful demonstration outside the court, sadly had to be scrapped.

We have come up with another idea for which we need all the support for we can get.

We would like YOU, wherever you are in the world, to please print or copy the Swedish text FOUND BELOW and post this as a letter or postcard to the judge who will lead the trial on the 20th.

His name and address is:

Lagman Mikael Mellqvist
Gotlands tingsrätt
Box 1143
SE-621 22 Visby
SWEDEN

Or email the text to the courts with as many emails as you and your friends and family members can: gotlands.tingsratt@dom.se

If you can, send both the postcard/letter and email for greater impact.

We are hoping that if we bombard the Gotland courts and judge with letters and emails of support it will show them the strength of feeling regarding this case.

Time is of the essence, so please send this as soon as you possibly can.

Please sign your name and country if possible to lend more credibility to your letters/emails (or if you want to/need to stay anonymous that will be fine too). What’s important is that we get as many people to do this as possible.

SWEDISH TEXT:

Till Lagman Mikael Mellqvist

Jag är mycket oroad över hur svenska myndigheter och domstolar har behandlat Christer Johansson och över LVU- omhändertagandet av hans son Domenic Johansson.

När Christer måndagen den 22 november 2010 tog med sig Domenic gjorde han en överilad handling.

Han är en kärleksfull far som inte längre kunde stå emot sin längtan efter sonen Domenic, som han bara har fått träffa 1 timme var femte vecka och då alltid övervakad av någon myndighetsperson.

Christer är ingen brottsling, men han har levt under oerhörd psykisk press och stress sedan 1,5 år tillbaka när de sociala myndigheterna beslöt att på ytterst tveksamma grunder tvångsomhänderta hans barn.

Jag vädjar till Er att låta Christer Johansson slippa straff och att ni respekterar de mänskliga rättigheterna som stadgas i Europakonventionen.

Vänligen, ________________________________

BELOW IS FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. Below is the Swedish text translated into English for you to know what you are sending. PLEASE SEND THE MESSAGE USING THE SWEDISH TEXT and NOT the English text below. The below text is simply for your information.

Swedish text translation in English:

To Judge Mikael Mellqvist

I am extremely worried about how the Swedish authorities and courts are treating Christer Johansson and the circumstances of the forceful abduction of his son Domenic by Gotland Social Services.

When Christer decided to bring his son home on Monday 22 November 2010 it was the action of a man who had been driven to desperation.

Christer is a loving father who could no longer bear to be apart from his only son Domenic. A son who he had only been able to see for 1 hour every five weeks and then always under close supervision by authorities.

Christer Johansson is not a criminal but he has had to endure huge psychological stress and pressure for the past one and a half years, ever since the Social Services took away his son on the weakest of pretexts.

I entreat you to please respect Christer Johansson’s Human Rights in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Please ensure that justice is served and that Christer Johansson is released without further punishment.

Kindly,

________________________________________________


Thank you for your support.

Blessings to all and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

–Friends of Domenic Johansson

Swedish government’s 18-month-long seizure of 9-year-old boy pushing parents to emotional brink

Swedish government’s 18-month-long seizure of 9-year-old boy pushing parents to emotional brink http://adf.am/fbTRke