Taiwanese sue Norway


Three Taiwanese residing in Norway on Monday said they have filed a lawsuit against Norwegian authorities for changing their nationality to Chinese on their residency permits.

The suit was filed on Thursday last week at a district court in Oslo and a hearing is scheduled for early next year, said one of the plaintiffs, a lawyer who identified himself as Joseph.

The other two plaintiffs are a Taiwanese married to a Norwegian citizen and a post-doctoral candidate, Joseph said.

The suit names the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, the Immigration Appeals Board and the Oslo Police District as defendants, he added.

Joseph said that he has been urging the Norwegian government to correct the problem since 2010, when authorities began listing their nationality as Chinese on their residency designations.

Despite repeated protests, authorities have failed to respond, angering many Taiwanese residents and students, Joseph said.

An online fundraising campaign for the lawsuit that Joseph started in the second half of last year has raised more than NT$3 million (US$95,444), he said.

Since the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2010 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese writer and human rights advocate Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian government has sought to distance itself from Taiwan over fears of angering China again, Joseph said.

After a referendum in November last year, when Taiwanese voted against competing in next year’s Tokyo Olympics under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei,” many Taiwanese were discouraged from joining the movement to ask the Norwegian government to correct the designation, fearing that Norwegian judges would favor the authorities, he said.

However, Joseph said that the winds have changed, especially in light of the massive pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong and the nearly 1 million Uighurs detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang, China.

These incidents have drawn the world’s attention to China’s suppression of human rights, Joseph said, adding that he believed the judges would not rule against them.

Nonetheless, he is still preparing for the worst-case scenario and would appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary to allow the world to hear Taiwanese people’s voices.

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