Hundreds rally in several cities urging Norwegian authorities return Bodnariu children

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Several hundred protesters gathered on Saturday in several cities to protest the Norwegian child welfare authorities' decision to take in custody the five children of the Bodnariu family.

In Bucharest, people gathered in Victorei Square with signs written in Romanian and Norwegian reading: "Norway don't separate the Bodnariu family," "Rather a poor mom in Romania than have your children stolen in Norway," "Romanians worldwide unite. Your children are being hijacked," "Stop Barnevernet," "Norway, stop child kidnapping," or "Reunite the Bodnariu family."

In Cluj too, over five hundred protesters gathered in the city center to express support for the family, carrying photos of the Bodnariu spouses Marius and Ruth, together with their five children, and signs calling for the family's reuniting. "Norway return children to Bodnariu family" or "Norway don't separate the Bodnarius" read the signs in their hands.

High officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday discussed the matter again with Norway's Ambassador in Bucharest Tove Bruvik Westberg; the sides agreed on the importance of sustained cooperation in the Bodnariu case, the Foreign Ministry said in a release.

According to this document, the meeting followed constant approaches by the Ministry, including correspondence and high-level talks between the Romanian and Norwegian Foreign Ministries.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said that through its diplomatic mission in Oslo, it had taken steps towards the organization of a parliamentary visit to the Kingdom of Norway, which is expected to take place in the near future. The Romanian Ambassador to Norway will also discuss with representatives of the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion on January 13, the release mentioned.

The Romanian Embassy in Oslo is keeping in permanent contact with the Bodnarius and their lawyer.

"Both the Bodnariu family and their lawyer, and the Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest insisted on the observation of the principle of confidentiality, as a basic principle for proceedings in such cases," the Foreign Ministry also said.

Upon the Foreign Ministry's request, the Romanian National Authority for Child Rights Protection and Adoption (ANDPCA) ordered a social inquiry, following which it decided to propose the Norwegian part the integration of the children into the father's extended family in Romania.

The entire documentation provided by the ANPDCA was sent in a fast-track procedure through the Romanian Embassy in Oslo to all the relevant Norwegian authorities, as well as to the family's lawyer, to be used in the ongoing legal procedure in local courts.

Norway's child services Barnevernet took the three sons and two daughters of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu into custody on Nov. 16 and 17, 2015 respectively, over concerns of religious indoctrination and physical abuse, and adoption procedures have also been initiated for the children. AGERPRES

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