In 2008, Gerno and Andrea Schöneich, along with their four children, fled their native country of Germany to New Zealand where they hoped they would be free to live and educate their children in peace. As German homeschool parents, they faced threats from authorities, hefty fines, and even jail time. German authorities continue to show such extreme prejudice toward homeschoolers that families continue to leave their homeland rather than give up homeschooling.
Unable to obtain work permits in New Zealand, and unable to return to Germany because of the very real fear that their younger children could be removed from their custody, the Schöneichs decided to apply for political asylum in New Zealand. In mid-November the family received invitations to present their claim for refugee status before New Zealand officials. The family is representing themselves in the arduous asylum process.
“Free, Liberal, Democratic Country”
Over three long days, immigration officers interviewed or, as the Schöneichs felt, “interrogated” them. These refugee officials were skeptical and did not seem to view homeschooling favorably. They even expressed doubt about documented instances of persecution of homeschoolers.
According to Mr. Schöneich, “One officer stated that Germany is a free, liberal, democratic county and [persecution of homeschoolers] would obviously not happen. Further, he did not believe that it actually happens in Germany.” The officers cited previous cases on homeschooling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), including the infamous Konrad decision where the court dismissed the case of homeschoolers who were fined for not sending their children to school. Schöneich told HSLDA that that the New Zealand immigration officers showed “no understanding or sympathy” for his family’s plight. It was only the extensive evidence from the German Romeike family’s political asylum victory in the United States that seemed to keep the officials interested. Click here to read entire article.