The decision by authorities in Sweden to take custody of a student because he was being homeschooled has turned into an international case, with Domenic Johansson’s Swedish father now inquiring about becoming a citizen of India.
Johansson’s wife, and Domenic’s mother, Annie, was born in India, although authorities say her passport has lapsed.
The Johannsons have been fighting the government in their present home in Sweden since 2009 for custody of their son, who was seized by armed officers that year as the family tried to emigrate to India.
According to a report in The Hindu, Indian authorities have declined to become involved officially in the case, because Christer Johansson is a Swedish citizen and Domenic was born in Sweden.
Wyed Akbaruddin of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi told the newspaper Annie is a Person of Indian Origin but no longer is an Indian citizen.
But the report said Johansson has asked authorities at the Indian embassy in Stockholm whether he or his son could obtain Indian citizenship.
He told the newspaper Indian authorities said he and his son cannot be given citizenship, but they can apply for either a Person of Indian Origin card or an Overseas Citizen of Indian card.
A surge of publicity has been created by commentators in India who now are covering the case, which WND has been reporting since 2009.
Suranya Aiya noted in PravasiToday.com that Sweden’s tough stance on homeschooling is held by other nations as well. Siv Westerberg, on the same site, said a resolution could come from the European Court of Human Rights.
The English-language Alpha News called the case “a shocking example of how child care authorities in the West often fail to understand the Indian way of bringing up a child.” The report noted Annie’s mother, still of India, reports her daughter is devastated by the situation, and Annie herself is seeking help from a nongovernmental organization in India.
Christopher C.M. Warren wrote in PravasiToday the custody case has become “the Swedish government’s biggest blunder in modern times.”
He claimed that “as many as 10,000 to 20,000 children out of an overall population of 8 million [are] being taken away from their parents each year” in Sweden.
He called it Europe’s “worst state-sanctioned child trafficking businesses.”
“From the very beginning, the social services department and the Gotland [Sweden] municipality have cast a veil of secrecy around the whole case. Domenic was seized by armed police on an airliner waiting to fly the family back to India where they were planning to resettle, without a warrant, on 25 June 2009. What was their crime? For homeschooling … only homeschooling was fully legal at the time…”
Swedish officials told a reporter that they could not provide details about the case.
“It is impossible to understand the Domenic Johansson case without first understanding this mentality which basically is this: The individual is incapable of exercising his freedom responsibility so rearing must be left to the ‘village’ – in a word, to the state. And the social services are now to be every child’s ideal parent – best dad and best mum who know other ‘best dads’ and other ‘best mums’ to send them to after breaking up their original families,” wrote Warren.
He continued: “Domenic has been legally kidnapped by a pirate Swedish state. Somewhere along the line, Sweden has lost its way, and badly.
“Now that mother India is waking up to this abuse of one of her children we are confident that the Johanssons will have final victory. They absolutely must. And it will not be enough, after all the trauma they have suffered, for some shady deal to be worked between the Swedish government and the Indian as happened in another recent case involving the equally corrupt Norwegian social services.”
Domenic, he wrote, “must be returned to his rightful parents, and they – with their son – must be allowed this time to leave the Swedish Gulag without police interference and to the freedom of India.”
He finished: “We are looking now for Indians to raise their voices on behalf of Domenic.”
WND recently reported Lotta Edholm, a prominent member of Sweden’s liberal party, wrote in an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, that the nation’s social service laws should be changed to encourage social workers to take children away from homeschooling families.
The deputy minister of social affairs, Maria Larsson, “should take an initiative to change the social services act so that the social authorities can intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents,” she wrote in her blog.
“Sweden’s educational policy is becoming increasingly totalitarian,” warned Michael Donnelly, the director of international affairs for the Home School Legal Defense Association, a U.S.-based group that advocates for students’ and parents’ rights worldwide, at the time.
“A country that does not permit home education is not really a free country,” he said.
The HSLDA reported Jonas Himmelstrand, chief of the Swedish Association for Home Education, believes Edholm’s perception that homeschooling isn’t compatible with democracy simply inverts freedom.
“Edholm argues that because children have a right to an education, this means that public school is the only valid option,” Himmelstrand told the HSLDA. “With the knowledge we have today this is pure ignorance. Home education is an effective and perfectly legitimate way for children to learn. Edholm’s argument is totalitarian and breaches fundamental democratic principles. It’s fine for the government to provide schools, but it goes against basic human rights norms to force every child to go to school.”
He continued: “The government is not the parent. … Unfortunately, in Sweden the line between parents and the state has become strongly blurred.”
Christer and Domenic Johansson
WND also has reported previously on several cases in which children were taken by authorities in Sweden over homeschooling. In one case, a private detective literally abducted back the children and reunited them with their parents who had moved out of the country.
The conflicts in Sweden are getting as contentious as in Germany, where numerous families simply fled their home country instead of face the crushing fines, jail sentences and even destruction of families that government officials demand.
It was in a dramatic case, involving the Romeike family, that a U.S. immigration judge granted political asylum in the U.S. because of the persecution they would face in they return to Germany. The Obama administration is appealing the ruling, seeking to send the family back.
Donnelly said what is happening in Germany and Sweden needs to be noted in the United States because of the habit officials have of adopting controversial European actions.
“In her book ‘What Is Right for Children,’ Emory University School of Law professor Martha Albertson-Fineman makes the argument that it is not enough that children have the opportunity to go to public school – they must all go to public school, meaning that homeschooling and private schools should be banned,” he said.
“This is one of the reasons why it is important for American homeschoolers to be interested in what happens overseas. By fighting these ideas wherever they occur globally, we can prevent them from gaining traction here,” he continued.