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10 Oct, 2016 11:31

Protests on Swedish island, attack on refugee center after rape of wheelchair-bound woman

Protests on Swedish island, attack on refugee center after rape of wheelchair-bound woman

Several protests have been held on the Swedish island of Gotland and a refugee center there has been attacked with stones since police released several men, reportedly asylum seekers, accused of gang-raping a wheelchair-bound woman.

The incident took place in the small town of Visby on Gotland on October 2. A woman in her 30s contacted police about the rape, Swedish Aftonbladet newspaper reported, citing her lawyer Staffan Fredriksson. 

The victim said that she had shared a taxi home with a man after going to a restaurant. At some point, she said she needed a toilet and the man offered the one at his place.

“She followed him in and had no fears that something would happen. Then the man took advantage of the situation. The abuse started in the toilet,” Fredriksson said, adding that several other men joined in the abuse.

“Where they came from we don’t know. This was going on for a couple of hours,” said Fredriksson. “She got paralyzed in this situation and was not able to bring herself to resist physically, other than saying no.”

The woman was stranded in the offender’s property, as she can’t walk long distances and uses a wheelchair. She somehow managed to take a wheelchair and get away, however.

Fredriksson said that the woman’s injuries were documented by a doctor. “She is completely broken down,” he added.

Six men, all in their 20s, were arrested after the attack, and one was soon released. The remaining five remained in police custody until they were released on Wednesday. The investigation is still ongoing.

Swedish police did not release the nationality of the alleged perpetrators, or any other details about them. They even removed the post about the incident from Facebook, citing bad language and verbal attacks. 

“We are restricted from specifying ethnicity, description, or other information, such as age, appearance and addresses [of the alleged offenders],” police wrote on Facebook.

However, Expressen newspaper reported that the suspects are all asylum seekers and that the rape allegedly took place at asylum accommodation.

Radio Nordfront released a video that claims to show the alleged rapists.

Users on social media have been distributing screenshots from the video with angry comments.

Protests break out in Gotland town following rape incident

Visby has seen several protests held to support the raped woman and condemn the release of the alleged perpetrators.

On Wednesday, about 100 people walked from the local police station to the place where the alleged rape had taken place, Expressen newspaper reported. Also on Wednesday, a crowd of protesters attacked local asylum accommodation with stones. It is not clear whether it is the only migrant facility in the town. 

A similar protest took place on Friday. These events prompted Swedish authorities to send extra police to the town, and some 60 officers arrived in Visby on Friday to stabilize the situation.

“It is to make sure that we can handle our fundamental mission as police on Gotland and to enable us to act on the incidents of the past few days,” said Torbjörn Nilsson, the head of Gotland police, in a statement, as cited by Hela Gotland newspaper. 

“You have to distinguish between these past weekends and what it is like on Gotland in general. Gotland is safe, compared to other places, and there are few crimes compared to the rest of the country,” he added. “But the way people have now acted is unprecedented.”

On Sunday, the Nordic Council of Resistance activists, who have been called Neo-Nazis by the local media, also held a protest. According to Christer Börjesson, commanding chief of the police reinforcements, the protest was peaceful and there was only a minor clash between demonstrators and a passer-by. 

In 2015, nearly 200,000 refugees and migrants entered Sweden – more per capita than any other nation in Europe.

At the beginning of September, a new survey by research company Inizio for Aftonbladet said that the percentage of Swedes who want a reduction in refugees has nearly doubled in a year, with 60 percent urging the authorities to reduce immigration.

Only 13 percent of the population said that they thought more refugees and migrants should be accepted.