The Arrests Begin: Sweden Police Scramble To Respond To Refugee Sex Assault Coverup
12 January, 2016
On Monday, we brought you “Massive Coverup Exposed In Sweden As Media, Cops Hid Migrant Sex Attacks” in which we detailed an evolving story out of Stockholm where police and some members of the media stand accused of covering up a wave of sexual assaults that allegedly occurred at a festival in August of last year.
According to Nyheter Idag, a reporter for the prominent daily Dagens Nyheter had an opportunity to talk with police about the attacks but ultimately shied away from the story when it became apparent that many of the accused were migrants.
Just a day before the Nyheter Idag story was published, Dagens Nyheter ran its own account of the incident and blamed police for covering up the attacks.
That certainly looked like an effort to get out ahead of the Nyheter Idag exposé but whatever the case, someone (or several someones) apparently took it upon themselves to keep the festival assaults from getting publicized for fear of sparking an anti-migrant backlash. Here’s what we wrote on Monday:
If Nyeter Idag's allegations are true, it certainly seems possible that Dagens Nyheter was under political pressure to avoid the story if possible. Meanwhile, if Dagens Nyheter's account is accurate, it appears the police could have been under similar pressure. After all, it's the politicians that set the agenda, the media simply perpetuate it and the police simply enforce it, so it's difficult to believe that the media and the police conspired alone to cover up the attacks.
Long story short, the attacks in Cologne have made it impossible to sweep the Stockholm assaults under the rug and now, authorities and politicians are rushing to "investigate" what happened.
(a scene from the festival)
On Tuesday, the arrests began as a 15-year-old boy was taken into custody in connection with the fiasco. "A 15-year-old boy has been charged with assault and sexual assault at a music festival in Stockholm, after police were accused of withholding information about a string of attacks there," The Local writes, adding that "police said the boy had been charged with assault and sexual assault against two 14-year-old girls at the event." Here's more:
There were 38 reports of rape and sexual assault filed after the We Are Sthlm festival, which uses the postal abbreviation for Stockholm, in 2014 and 2015, according to police, who released the information on Monday after the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper suggested that there had been a cover-up.
The paper reported it had seen a memo from last summer, warning police ahead of the event that there was a known "problem with young men who rub themselves against young girls" at the festival.
Police would not say how many men had been linked to the alleged assaults, but DN reported that as many as 50 Afghan refugees who had come to Sweden without their parents were suspected to be involved.
The free We are Sthlm festival is put on every year for 12 to 17-year-olds and is held in various locations in the city centre, including Kungsträdgården, a large park close to Stockholm's Royal Palace. The programme in 2015 boasted a number of international dance companies and circuses alongside Swedish artists including Zara Larsson, who headlined the event.
Police said last summer that there had been "relatively few crimes and people taken into custody considering the number of participants" in the festival, however documents sent by police to DN and the AFP news agency showed allegations of a total of 17 sexual assaults and one rape during the 2014 music festival, and 19 sexual assaults and one rape in 2015.
"We should certainly have written and told people about this, no doubt. Why it did not happen I do not know," Varg Gyllander, a police press spokesperson, told DN.
Varg may "not know", but if we had to guess, the police determined that creating a media spectacle around the attacks wasn't worth it considering what the implications might be for other refugees living in the country and for immigration policy writ large.
As for Dagens Nyheter, the daily flatly denies allegations that it chose not to run the story last year in order to avoid inflaming tensions between Swedes and migrants. "The data on the DN would pursue blackout is mendacious: an important thing that young women are subjected to systematic abuse is an obvious novelty for DN to report," an amusing translation of a statmentfrom editorial director Caspar Opitz reads. Opitz goes on to explain that he was unable to get "confirmation of the molestations": "In our regular checking with the police and other channels and sources we received last summer no confirmation of these molestations." As everyone knows, the first rule of journalism is that you must always confirm your molestations. Here's a bit more from Opitz who apparently interrogated himself as the statement is presented in FAQ format:
But you did, according to information circulated on the network, a concrete tip that many people had suffered molestation and harassment?
- Yes, it came in August a tip to our ledarredaktion that there has been a series of systematic molestation at the festival. The tip came from a source who wished to remain anonymous. We took it very seriously, had contact with the source and tried to move forward with the tip, but failed to get it confirmed. An aggravating factor was of course that the police, who have the right government mandate to investigate crimes, not went out and talked about the incident. Therefore, reported virtually no media - established or alternative - if serious abuses in the Royal Garden last summer.
How could you fail there?
- We get hundreds of tips to the editor every day. We sift through them, make the most credible, devote time to some, prioritizes away others.The quality of the advice varies widely. In this case, made a number of calls and checks, but because we have not reached an acknowledgment that there was no article. There was, for example, information in the tips we got on that very many people had been arrested, that a check is not proved to be correct.
Seen how that works? It's the police's fault because if they had made a bigger deal out of it, the media would have been forced to report it.
Of course in reality it's the other way around. The media discovers a coverup, shares the details with the world, and then officials are forced to come clean. When the media doesn't do its job, that process never gets started.
It's also worth mentioning that the editor of Nyheter Idag is what The Local describes as "a formerly active member of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party," so clearly they had an agenda in reporting the Dagens Nyheter coverup.
"Growing frustration in Sweden with an asylum policy that will allow up to 190,000 refugees into the country this year is driving Europe’s self-declared 'humanitarian superpower' into the arms of radical nationalism," The Guardian wrote in November. "The Sweden Democrats (SD), a nationalist party that emerged from the neo-Nazi movement and has been shunned by Sweden’s mainstream parties because of its far-right immigration policies, is now the country’s third-largest party with 49 representatives in parliament." Given that, it seems likely that someone from the country's "mainstream" parties might have "suggested" that Dagens Nyheter not cover the story and that police keep any investigations of the attacks to themselves in order to keep the issue from becoming free marketing material for an "undesirable" political party that's rapidly gaining popular support.
Now, that strategy has backfired. Anti-immigration parties will be able to point to the coverup as evidence to suggest that not only is Sweden's immigration policy dangerous, the politicians who support it are corrupt. We close with a quote from Daniel Poohl, editor-in-chief of Expo, a pressure group that charts fascist activity in Sweden:
“I think we have to be aware that the far-right didn’t disappear from Europe, it just had an enormous backlash after 1945. At that time democracy was the ID that destroyed society; today it’s multiculturalism that destroys the nation.”
‘Biggest refugee inflow still ahead:’ 10 million could come to Europe – German minister
The recent migrant influx to Europe is just a prologue to what could be in store in the coming years, as the number of new arrivals could amount to eight to ten million people, German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Muller has warned.
So far, Europe has witnessed only the beginning of the refugee and migrant tide, as “only ten percent of refugee wave coming from Syria and Iraq have reached” Europe, with even more people expected to arrive from Africa, Muller said in an interview to the German Bild am Sonntag.
“The biggest refugee inflow is still ahead: African population will double in the next decades with the population of… Egypt reaching 100 million and Nigeria’s population reaching 400 million,” Muller told the daily on Sunday.
The minister also stressed that the process of refugee inflow is largely irreversible as “in our digital era, with internet and mobile phones, everyone is well aware about our [European] wealth and lifestyle,” adding that the world needs “an absolutely new pattern of international cooperation.”
“We cannot just build fences around Germany and Europe. When people suffer, they will come,” Muller said, adding that “it does not matter what we decide here [in Europe]. These people [refugees] will not ask us, if they may come.”
In the interview, the minister outlined a “Marshall Plan” costing €10 billion that envisages the creation of an “all-European reconstruction fund” to finance the rebuilding of settlements in war-torn Syria and Iraq. He stressed that states that do not accept refugees should more actively participate in this project and should not try to avoid paying their share.
At the same time, the minister asserted that Europe should invest in education, integration, and the future of the refugees that have already reached Europe. He also said the first priority was to reduce the inflow of refugees into Europe, as “from eight to ten million people are on their way [to Europe].”
Muller also warned that Turkey has reached its maximum capacity to accept refugees and requires help, urging “the EU-states to fulfill their promise” as the pledged “aid amounting to € 3 billion is still not available.”
The European Commission has lost authority because of the refugee crisis, the minister noted.
“The protection of external borders is not working. Schengen has collapsed. A fair distribution of refugees has not taken place,” he said.
Commenting on the cap on the number of refugees demanded by Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, the minister said that the country “needs a reduction because, “if [Germany] receives another million [of refugees] like last year, it will not be able to successfully integrate them.”
Muller’s statements concerning the potential number of new arrivals to Europe partly reiterated the comments of Heinz Buschkowsky, a German MP from the Social Democratic Party, who also predicted that the total number of refugees and migrants coming to Germany by 2020 could reach up to 10 million.
On Saturday, the German Interior Ministry said that it expects another million refugees to enter Europe from Turkey, adding that Turkey will be able to host only about one fifth of them.
This prognosis was made by the German Parliamentary State Secretary for the Interior Ministry, Ole Schroeder, during a meeting with his counterparts from Sweden and Denmark, as well as EU Commissar for Migration, Der Spiegel reports.
In his speech, Schroeder also criticized the European Commission, saying that “the measures [implemented by the Commission] so far have no impact [on the situation] as the numbers of [refugees arriving to Europe] are not decreasing with averagely about 40,00 people coming from Turkey to Greece every day.”
According to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, 1.1 million refugees were registered in Germany in 2015 – 428,500 of them from Syria. The minister also added that the number of refugees coming from Morocco and Algeria has significantly increased recently, as reported by Der Spiegel.
Germany to make deporting refugees easier
German authorities are going to make it easier to deport criminal foreigners, including asylum seekers, by lifting some of the restrictions impeding the process, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said on Tuesday.
“With this proposal, we are significantly lowering the hurdles for the possible expulsion of foreigners who have committed crimes in Germany,” he told German N24 Channel during a joint address with the Justice Minister Heiko Maas.
The new measure will affect foreigners convicted of specific crimes in Germany, including homicide, bodily harm, sexual assault, violent theft, and serial shoplifting. Youth sentences are also covered by the new measure.
A sentence of one year can already be a “significant reason” for deportation, while earlier only refugees sentenced to three or more years could be deported, de Maiziere said.
“That’s a hard but right response by the state to those who are seeking protection here, but think they can commit crimes” without consequences for their right to remain in Germany, he added.
At the same time, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that some measures were necessary to “protect the overwhelming majority of innocent refugees in Germany. They don’t deserve to be lumped together with criminal foreigners,” AP reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday during a news briefing that the laws easing the deportation process, which were initiated by the justice and interior ministers, should “come into force as soon as possible.”
The initiative came following a series of sexual assaults that took place on New Year’s Eve in a number of European countries. The largest number of assaults was recorded in Cologne, where 516 criminal cases have been filed with the Cologne Police, who say that these include two cases of rape.