Today’s post is dedicated to my friend Alex and her son Jonatan.
Alex is originally from Indonesia and we met during our first week of college together in the USA 21 years ago. We attended a small college in the Midwest called Principia College which had a great program for overseas students. We shared a room during our international orientation week and have kept in touch ever since. Because the political situation in Indonesia was too rocky after Alex completed college she was unable to return home and instead moved to Europe. While settling there Alex actively campaigned for freedom in her home country and also set up a successful photography business. Fast forward a few years and Alex married and had a baby boy called Jonatan.
The marriage broke down when Alex feared for the safety of her son and needed to escape her abusive husband – world renowned writer Jonas Jonasson. With money and a large legal team behind him, somehow Jonas was able to claim full custody of their son despite issues with alcohol. Alex was unable to see him and has spent literally years fighting this decision in the courts and campaigning for the right to have contact with her son. The last time she was allowed any contact with him was in 2011. Now, she is not even allowed to send him letters, Christmas and birthday gifts or to call him. I can’t imagine what that must be like for both Alex and Jonatan.
What is troublesome is that the Swedish Court of Appeal DID grant visitation rights to Alex several years ago but have no power to uphold the decision and therefore no contact has been made. Currently Alex and Jonatan both reside separately on the island of Gotland. Even more disturbing is that in recent years a number of cases of downright racism in child custody cases in Sweden have come to light and it seems that Alex and Jonatan are victims too. In addition, we are sure that Alex is also singled out as a poor mother because of her Christian faith.
Each time Alex seems to make progress through the legal system, blocks seem to be put in her way. Jonas Jonasson has unlimited resources and a strong relationship with media which has enabled him to be a successful author and wield this power to whitewash the facts…talk about lacking integrity.
I’ve watched Alex’s story unfold from afar all these years, sometimes offering further support with campaigning but feeling somewhat powerless to help affect real change. Through these years Alex has been principled in all her actions and on the whole kept a sense of calm that is incredible to witness given the seeming strain that she is under. All Alex wants is the opportunity to be in touch with her son and for him to understand where he comes from and to know that she NEVER abandoned him and he is very much loved. You can find more out about the case here.
Sadly Alex’s story is all too common in Europe. There are countless cases of discrimination against parents and children who have been failed by social care systems that are no longer fit for purpose. So for now until courts and governments wake up to the institutional racism, Alex, Jonatan and countless others are caught up in a failing system.
It’s true that sometimes a child must be removed from a parent for their own safety. However, in the case of Alex and Jonatan that is simply not true. All through this ordeal Alex has been transparent about with information which highlights the ridiculous nature of her case. She has tirelessly campaigned. Alex will never give up on Jonatan.
When I originally wrote this post a few days ago and then re-read it, it sounded like a massive rant…I needed to get the sense of injustice and hurt that I feel for my friend out of my system. Since then I’ve edited the post, toned it down and tried to remove the emotion. But at the heart this is a human rights case and deserves far more attention.
I encourage you to take a look at the above information for yourself and if you feel so moved, please add your voice to the campaign but talking about it on social media using #savejonatan, share the story and sign the petition.