Military interpreter denied residency

An interpreter who risks his life alongside Danish soldiers in Afghanistan has been refused a residency permit despite coming to the country almost a decade ago. Yesterday, Barialai Hassanzani set off for his homeland Afghanistan with the Danish contingent for the second time. But, when he returns, he will still not be classed as an “active citizen”.

“When I put my life on the line along with you and for you to be part of the Danish contingent, and still get kicked away by the Danish state, I don’t really feel like doing it again,” Barialai Hassanzani said in a report by Information.

Hassanzai’s mother fled Afghanistan with her two other children in 1999, leaving her eldest son to live with his grandparents in the war-torn country for three years. While the rest of his family were granted permanent residency permits in Denmark, Hassanzai came under the 2010 regulations when he joined them in 2002 at the age of 13.

In a statement to Hassanzai, Denmark’s Immigration Service wrote: “We have attached importance to the fact that you have not shown active citizenship in this country by at least one year’s participation in boards, organisations and suchlike.”

Speaking to Information, Liberal Party integration spokeswoman Karen Lauritzen explained why Hassanzai does not meet the criteria.

“You can define active citizenship in many ways. We have chosen a limited definition in order to make it easy to administer and make the process less bureaucratic,” she said. “And if you’ve been sent out as an interpreter, you’ve been sent out by the military and not as part of a voluntary association,” Lauritzen added.

Flemming Vinther, chairman of the Privates and Corporals Union in Denmark, however, called the decision “a laughing stock”.

“The interpreter puts his life on the line to help our soldiers, but according to the authorities it would have been better if he had stayed in Denmark as a soccer coach. Ridiculous,” he said. “Being sent out should almost count as double. The rules are far too stringent, but it is a good example of how policies here have been tightened to breaking point and more,” Vinther added.