Twenty five Tamil families in Norway began a death fast on Sunday, demanding the release of their children, who have been forced into foster care by the Norwegian welfare authorities.

The families began their fast at the Dom Kirken Cathedral in Oslo.

Several Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern and Iraqi families, whose children have also been forcibly taken away by the Norwegian authorities, were also present in support of the hunger strike.

The Tamil families at the beginning of the death fast said they had decided on the drastic action as the Norwegian Government had refused to release the children back into the care of the parents.

More than 60 children, all of them born in Norway to Tamil parents, were forcibly taken away by the Norwegian welfare authorities, based on dubious claims of the children being badly and rudely treated by the parents in their homes.

The children have either been placed in foster care or in welfare centres.

The parents, denying the claims made by the Norwegian authorities, argue that they had been bringing up their children according to traditions.

Claiming that action they take to discipline their children has been misinterpreted by the Norwegian authorities as harassment, the fasting parents said the children were being disciplined for their good, not with any intent to harm.

The parents who gathered at the Dom Kirken Cathedral, said they have been appealing to the Norwegian authorities to release the children back to their care for more than a year, but to no avail. The parents alleged that the Norwegians have not responded to any of their pleas.

Parents participating in the hunger strike hunger strike carried with them pictures of the children who have been taken into the custody by the Norwegian Child Welfare Centre.

The Norwegian authorities are of the view that children of Asian families are not taught proper habits and are made to eat with bare hands. Allowing the children to sleep in one single room with their parents has also been deemed a form of child abuse

Meanwhile certain Indian families had also faced a similar situation a month ago and appealed to the Indian External Affairs Ministry to intervene in the issue.

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