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persecution and misery in "The happiest country in the world"Denmark stole the children of the indigenous people and sterilized their women

Hardly the pages of the colonial history of any of the Western powers that boast today of their democratic regimes and their “respect” for human rights are devoid of dark chapters that insulted the dignity and humanity of the colonized peoples.

This is attested to, for example, by France’s colonial past in Algeria, the almost complete extermination of American Indians at the hands of the white American man, and the mass graves of shame for children that recently revealed the misdeeds of Canadians and their shameful past.

But the examples of this persecution and harm to the dignity of indigenous peoples are almost endless, as recent reports have shown deplorable colonial practices in Denmark, the Scandinavian country whose image is often associated with well-being and ranks first in the world in indicators of “happiness”.

However, the happiness of the Danes was apparently built on the ruins of the misery and misery of other peoples, as the government of this country recently and formally agreed with the indigenous people of Greenland (the Inuit or Eskimo people) to start an investigation into a tragic chapter in the country’s colonial history, which witnessed forced practices to determine The offspring during the 1960s and 1970s included thousands of Inuit girls and women.

Greenland, the largest island in the world, has been an autonomous administrative division within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1979, located between the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

The Inuit live in Greenland, the largest island in the world (Getty Images)

Physical and emotional pain

The facts that were initially revealed by Danish media sites indicate that during that period, an intrauterine device, the “IUD” (IUD), known as the coil, was installed for thousands of Inuit women and girls without their knowledge of its function or feasibility, in order to deprive them of the ability to reproduce.

A commission will examine these forced contraceptive practices implemented by Danish health authorities in Greenland, and in schools in Denmark where Inuit students were present.

And Danish Health Minister Magnus Honik said – in a statement issued in early October – that the investigation will shed light on the decisions that led to this practice, and how they were implemented.

He said he had met many of the affected women, and “the physical and emotional pain they experienced continues to this day.”

According to the Greenland Human Rights Council, conventions on family life and privacy have been violated through these practices.

“We need to investigate the matter to see if what happened was in fact genocide,” the council president says, adding that “we don’t want a discharge report.”

A recently released podcast as part of a campaign called Spiralkampagnen, which means “the coil campaign” in Danish, showed records indicating that 4,500 women and girls, or about half of all females at the stage of life. Fertility was then in Greenland, they were implanted with an IUD between 1966 and 1970, but this forced procedure continued after that until the mid-1970s.

Among those affected, according to a BBC report, are girls as young as 12, and many of them have publicly stated that they were not properly informed of the matter, and some infertile women suspect that the blame lies. on the coil.

shocking testimonials

The commission provided shocking testimonies of elderly women, as they recounted what they experienced as young girls.

Among them is Naga Liberth, who was asked by a Danish doctor in the 1970s, who was 13 years old at the time, to go to a local hospital for an IUD implant after she had done a routine medical examination at her school.

“I didn’t really know what an IUD was, because the doctor didn’t explain it to me or get my permission,” says Liberth, who was then living in Manitowoc, a small town on the west coast of Greenland. “I was scared and couldn’t tell my parents, I was a virgin.”

“I can remember the doctors in white coats, maybe there was a nurse, and I saw the metal poles you were stretching your legs on, it was very scary, the equipment the doctors used was too big for my little body, it was like sticking knives inside me.”

Liberth asserts that her parents’ permission was not obtained before the transplant, and that her classmates were also taken to the hospital, but they did not talk about it “because it was very shocking.”

The Inuit hold their own cultural festivals that commemorate the history and legacy of their ancestors (Shutterstock)

Other victims

The installation of a forced sterilizer was not limited only to Greenland, but other Danish doctors carried out similar operations in other regions of Denmark, as confirmed by Arnanghoak Poulsen, who was another victim of this procedure when she was in 1974 a student at a boarding school for Greenland children on the remote island of Bornholm in the sea Baltic.

Arnanguak Poulsen, 64, says she suffered from IUD pain as a teenager.

Describing the pain and suffering she experienced, Poulsen says she was able to have the IUD removed when she returned to Greenland when she was 17 years old. Has it happened to a Danish woman?”

Another shocking testimony by Catherine Jacobsen, from Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and largest city, to the BBC, confirmed that she was only 12 years old when she was fitted with an IUD, and remembers that a friend of a relative took her to the doctor in 1974.

She says that the coil remained in her body for nearly two decades, causing her pain and a series of complications that ended with her hysterectomy in her late thirties.

“It had a huge impact on my life as I never had children, I never told anyone, and I always thought I was alone in this,” she says.

Serious repercussions

The dangerous repercussions of having an IUD implanted for long periods of time and without the knowledge of the victims, do not stop there. “In a womb that has never been pregnant before, this can lead to more bleeding,” says Dr. Aviaja Sigstad, a gynecologist at Queen Ingrid Hospital in Nuuk. The more pain, the greater the risk of infection.”

She says that, in the 1990s and 2000s, she and her colleagues encountered patients who were struggling to conceive, unaware that they had IUDs, noting that the number was not large, but it was not strange either, as she put it.

“In two cases, we were able to date the IUD to women who had miscarried and it was likely that it had been placed after the miscarriage without telling them.”

official justification

The Danish authorities justified this forced birth control campaign by saying that they were concerned about the increase in the population of Greenland, and the increase in the health and educational burden of raising more children, which, according to the government, would have represented an obstacle to improving the island’s situation.

In order to justify these practices, which some consider to amount to a “crime” against the Inuit people, the Journal of the Danish Medical Association – the main scientific journal in Denmark in the health and medical fields – published a study justifying the birth control campaign as a result of the increased birth rate, and a significant decrease in deaths from tuberculosis during 1971, which predicts a population explosion.

The study assumed the existence of two contraceptive methods to solve the crisis, namely: condoms and the intrauterine device. The researchers excluded condoms because of “the limited living conditions of Greenlanders that make it difficult for them to adhere to the personal hygiene necessary to use condoms.”

Parting of the parents

Another chapter of the Inuit persecution in Denmark, which began during the colonial period of Greenland, where the new colonizer was practicing a harsh policy against the indigenous people, punctuated by an experiment that proved to be unsuccessful later and required the separation of the sons of these tribes from their families for the purpose of learning the Danish language and culture.

When the Danish colonizer began this experiment during the 1950s, the best way to develop the island was by stealing her children, so she sent telegrams to priests and school administrators asking them to identify the smart children between the ages of 6 and 10 years on the island.

In its infancy, the social experiment was based on the idea of ​​forcibly taking 22 children from the arms of their parents, and sending them to foster families in Denmark. Indeed, the children were separated from their families and forgot their mother tongue.

They were placed in care homes to ensure they were free of diseases and then lived with Danish adoptive families, and after a year and a half, 16 of them returned to Greenland, but were not reunited with their original families, but rather resided in an orphanage and attended a Danish school as an “elite”. They do not speak the local language, which makes them marginalized in their home country, as his parents later met them and were unable to communicate verbally with them.

Despite signs of failure of the experiment, the Danish authorities continued their plan in the period between the fifties and seventies; Thousands of Greenland children were sent to Danish boarding schools, adoptions were common, and some were reported in the local press as “charity projects”.

The policy of separating children from their parents by the Danish colonizers caused irreparable wounds to the Inuit tribes (Shutterstock)

deep scars

And this painful experience did not end without leaving deep scars on the features of the lives of the Inuit children, as the BBC reported – in the results of a report issued in 2020 commissioned by the former Danish government – that half of the children of the experience later suffered from psychological problems and became addicted to alcohol, Some of them were displaced, died early, or committed suicide, while the rest lived in a state of alienation in their homeland.

This colonial experience also continues to have an impact on the relationship between Greenland and Denmark, where the islanders still feel that they are second-class citizens, and this relationship has further complicated and fueled feelings of anger in the hearts of the Inuit, the argument of successive Danish governments about the outcome of the experiment, and the repeated rejection of calls by Greenland politicians to provide An official apology for her, arguing that the experience had “positive effects” or was part of the past.

The only exception to this path of official intransigence remains the apology of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in December 2020 personally to 6 victims of the experiment, and Copenhagen’s agreement to pay compensation to them later in March 2022.

Source: Aljazeera

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