Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences

I met Taibeh Abbasi five years ago. We were supposed to be working on a presentation for social science class, but we kept finding other topics to talk about. We hit it off straight away.

Our friendship has become so strong. Whether we’re listening to music or cooking dinner, we’re always there for one another.

Especially when she has to go to court.

I remember when Taibeh showed me the letters she and her family had received. The words were complex and difficult to understand. I struggled to grasp the language, but I knew it was serious. I asked my teacher for help and he said Taibeh and her family were facing possible deportation to Afghanistan from Norway, where we live.

Taibeh and her family moved to Norway from Iran, where they were living after they fled Afghanistan and where Taibeh was born. At that time, the Norwegian government granted them residency as they deemed Afghanistan unsafe, and the family had been facing discrimination in Iran. Now, the government has reversed their decision, even though Afghanistan remains unsafe.

Activists supporting Amnesty International's #TellNorway campaign to stop returns of Afghan asylum-seekers from Norway. (Amnesty International)
Activists supporting Amnesty International's #TellNorway campaign to stop returns of Afghan asylum-seekers from Norway. (Amnesty International)

As Taibeh’s best friend, it’s been devastating to see her and her family go through this. It’s been a long journey and this battle has become a big part of our friendship. To me, Taibeh is the smartest, funniest person. We’ve shared our hopes and dreams. It’s heartbreaking to think hers might not become a reality.

Yet, our friendship isn’t the only reason I want Taibeh to stay in Norway. Yes, she’s my friend, who’s positive, funny and always has a smile on her face, no matter what she’s going through, but she’s also a great citizen, who brings so much to Norway.

As teenagers, we started the #AbbasiStays campaign in a bid to keep Taibeh safe. We didn’t do it because we were told to, but because it was the right thing to do.

Taibeh has never been to Afghanistan, and it’s not a safe country. Through demonstrations and concerts, we made our voices heard. People from all over Trondheim came together to support our campaign.

Taibeh Abbasi, 18, (right) with her best friend Ingjerd Jepsen Vegge. (Amnesty International)
Taibeh Abbasi, 18, (right) with her best friend Ingjerd Jepsen Vegge. (Amnesty International)

#AbbasiStays gained international attention, with organizations such as Amnesty International joining our campaign. Yet as we say one thing, the Norwegian government says something else. They said they understand why we want Taibeh to stay, but that it’s just not possible.

Norway has spent a lot of time integrating Taibeh and her family into the community, finding them a home, making sure they have access to health care and education. And now, they just want to tear it away.

Taibeh Abbasi and friends at a concert in support of her asylum claim at Vår Frue church in Trondheim, Norway. (Amnesty International)
Taibeh Abbasi and friends at a concert in support of her asylum claim at Vår Frue church in Trondheim, Norway. (Amnesty International)

This is a principled fight. We are shedding light on Norway’s dysfunctional policies. We have supported Taibeh and her family throughout this ordeal, but there are so many other stories just like Taibeh’s that stay secret. The government’s actions are sad, frustrating and disappointing. As teenagers who have taken action and spoken out, we deserve a proper response.

We’ve shared our political views, our cultures and I’ve gotten to know her family. Taibeh’s opinions continue to inspire me and she teaches me so much. She always manages to bring out the positive in every situation. We could be having a really bad day, receiving yet another dejecting letter, but then we will bake something or go out to dinner and find something to smile about. Our friendship is truly unique.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I’ve learnt so much from Taibeh.

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