OTC (”Offshore Technology Conference”) is an annual event occurring in May in Houston, Texas, the world’s energy capital. It is the largest conference of this nature in the world. Thousands of international businessmen, diplomats, politicians, engineers, journalists, and investors from more than 100 countries converge on Houston for the occasion, attend events, and network for four days.
Houston’s Romanian community used this opportunity to protest, the first week of May, Norway’s unlawful seizure by Barnevernet of the five (5) children of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu. Several members of the community picketed the conference in the morning holdings signs protesting Norway’s abusive and unconscionable conduct. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local and international visitors read the signs and were also given a specially prepared flyer protesting Norway’s insensitive action. Here’s the text of the letter:
On November 16 and 17, 2015 Barnevernet, Norway’s Child Protection Services, seized, without court order, the five (5) children of tender age of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu, a Romanian-Norwegian married couple, because of the family’s Christian faith. The family is Pentecostal. At the time of the unlawful seizure, the children were between three (3) months and nine (9) years old, and the parents 36. After the seizure, the children were dispersed to live in foster homes in three (3) different cities around Norway, hundreds of kilometers apart from their parents and from one another. This is unacceptable, and you can only imagine the harm and mental anguish this has caused the children and their parents.
The seizure of the children was done without court order and without any prior proceedings in a court of law allowing the police or Barnevernet to seize the children. The four (4) oldest children were seized from the family without the knowledge of their parents. The youngest child was seized by force after four (4) police officers and two (2) Barnevernet social workers arrived, under cover of darkness, at the family’s farm and demanded the three-month old baby be turned over to them. Anything of this nature would have been unheard of in the United States, Texas, or anywhere else in the civilized world.
The mother of the children is a pediatric nurse and has worked, prior to her marriage, with Romania’s orphans for years. The father is an IT specialist working for the municipality of Naustdal, the small town in South-West Norway where the family lives. Documents which surfaced in the course of the proceedings reveal, unmistakably, that Barnevernet was motivated, in seizing the children, by the family’s Christian faith. They state Barnevernet was “worried that the parents’ parenting style is based on the Bible.” This is a gross violation of human rights, of religious liberty, and of parental rights on the part of the Norwegian authorities.
The BBC has done a documentary on this tragedy, and on April 16, 2016 more than 60,000 individuals held many demonstrations around the globe, covering nearly all time zones, condemning the seizure of the children. Different publications in the United States and Europe have also condemned the children’s abduction and have demanded their release.
Please consider reminding your Norwegian business partners that neither Barnevernet nor Norway are above the law, and that Norway has an obligation to abide by international treaties which demand respect for parental rights, religious liberty, and the rights of children to know and be raised by their biological parents.
Please take the time to learn more about this case by visiting the official website of the global movement for the release of the Bodnariu children at www.bodnariufamily.org Thank you.