There was a time when the Swedish government dared to look any power straight in the eye and state loudly and clearly that crimes against humanity were wrong. Maybe our best time for this was when, in the Christmas of 1972, the Prime Minister Olof Palme spoke out against the US bombing of Hanoi comparing it with other great crimes against humanity. A position such as this led to a freeze in diplomatic relations. Since then the relations have been mended but not at the cost of our honour (a dangerous word, I know).
Today we sell whatever we can. And no matter whether the politicians are on the right or left the thought of taking a stand for that which is morally right is nowhere near the agenda.
On the 18 December 2001 Mohammed Alzery an Egyptian national seeking asylum in Sweden was picked up by Swedish Security Police and informed that his application for asylum had been rejected a few hours earlier. He was not allows to communicate with his lawyer or family, and within hours he was transported to Bromma airport. He was then handed over to some ten foreign (US and Egyptian) agents in civilian clothes and hoods and forcibly sent back to Egypt.
All this despite the fact that he had obviously been tortured and had reason to fear for his life.
How could the government do this? Well easy the asked the Egyptians to promise not to torture or kill him. When they agreed (all this in writing). The Swedes washed their hands of the affair.
The Swedes wrote: â??It is further the understanding of the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden that these persons will not be subjected to inhuman treatment or punishment of any kindâ?¦and further that they will not be sentenced to deathâ?¦â??The Egyptian Government responded in writing: â??We herewith assert our full understanding to all items of this memoire, concerning the way of treatment upon repatriate from your government, with full respect to their personal and human rights. This will be done according to what the Egyptian constitution and law stipulates.â??
How civilised. Its bullshit, everyone must have known it was bullshit, but so civilised. Which spineless Swedish civil servant typed this crap? Do you sleep at night? Or do you (I wish I could ask you – whoever you are – these questions in person one day) wake up screaming? You should you know…
Naturally he was tortured. He was then tortured again for telling the world he had been tortured. How can a state write the letter Sweden wrote? Simply by asking a state not to torture a specific individual is an admission that this kind of treatment occurs. Sweden played an active part in the torture – no Swedes actually did the dirty work, we simply outsourced it.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee says Sweden broke the international ban on torture for its actions. The Swedish government had already been criticised for the deportations, including the by the UNâ??s Torture Committee.
We have come a long, long way from when we looked superpowers in the eye armed only with our morality – and won.