Dutch church holds 24/7 worship to save refugee family from deportation

For nearly a month, a Dutch church has been holding services round the clock to prevent an Armenian refugee family from being deported.

Sasun and Anousche Tamrazyan and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran fled Armenia after Sasun's political activism led to death threats against him and have lived in the Netherlands for almost nine years. 

Worship at Bethel Church in The Hague has continued for almost a month.Bethel Church

However, while a judge granted them asylum, the government succeeded in having the ruling overturned, according to Quartz. An application for a 'children's pardon', in theory granted to refugees with children who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years, was also refused.

The family appealed to the Protestant Church for help and took refuge in Bethel Church. Police in Holland are not allowed to enter places of worship during religious services so the church has help worship continuously since October 25, relying on a rota of ministers drafted in from other churches.

Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers, said the church wanted to 'create time and space for dialogue with the government about a dilemma that...should not be faced by a church: choosing between respect for the government and protecting the rights of a child'.

The church said: 'We do what we always do: a church service, but then continuously – just as the need to be supported is continuous. We do this to encourage this family, to show that we are there as a church, that there is a God who does not let anyone fall.'

Far-right anti-immigration movements have increasingly gained popularity in Holland.

The church has invited prayer 'for us, for the Tamrazyan family, for the 400 children in the same situation', as well as donations, groceries and participation in the continuing worship.