journalist, author, and editor based in New York City, who grew up in Sweden and New York.
Author: Celia Farber
Author of "Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS."
Have written for: Harper's, Esquire, Rolling Stone, New York Observer, SPIN, Lapham's Quarterly, and more.
Recipient of "Clean Hands Award For Investigative Journalism," Semmelweis Society International, 2008
[BREAKING DEVELOPMENT: 10:22 AM: THEY HAVE NOW BEEN FIRED.They will not get their equipment back.]
A Swedish singing duo– Claes Mård and Nayana Gulstad–filmed a battle between drug gangs [of unknown origin] on March 3, 2017, in the Swedish town of Hallsberg. The gangs were throwing rocks, brandishing weapons, and attacking police cars. Mård’s 17 year old son was barricaded inside his high school at the time, along with other students, and the two musicians were circling in a car to see if they could evacuate him. They live-streamed the film on Facebook to warn others who may be in the area. Because they said a few mildly negative words about the criminals, their lives have been turned upside down.
They were called up, and told they could expect to be fired from their job, singing favorite tunes at retirement homes in central Sweden. Their instruments and PA were seized, and they were told to write a letter of denial/denunciation, apologizing for shooting this film, and using the negative words. [I have watched the film, speak Swedish, and heard only mildly critical language. see transcript.]
They were–most shockingly–told to recuse themselves on grounds of being “mentally incapacitated,” because one of them, Mård, has ADHD and mild autism, and the other, Gulstad, has has Aspergers. Swedish authorities demanded they put in writing that their mental “handicaps” caused them to not know what was happening, and to act badly, and allow themselves to be manipulated by “far right” media. They have refused to do so. Truth Barrier editor Celia Farber interviewed the besieged duo on March 21, by phone, from the US.
On March 22, (today) they will be called to a meeting and told to sign a new letter, and possibly lose their jobs. The Truth Barrier will follow up with them to find out what happened at the meeting.
Here is a translated transcript of the interview.
CM stands for Claes Mård, NG stands for Nayana Gulstad, and CF for Celia Farber.
CF: Tell me about yourselves.
NG: We work at a [state affiliated organization] called ABF where we go out and play music, favorite songs, which older people want to hear. We play music from the 11th century to the present. Every week we go around to different retirement homes in Örebro lan. [Note: By sheer coincidence, this is where CF grew up. It is also where whistleblower cop Peter Springare is from.]
CF: What is ABF?
NG: ABF is “arbetarna’s bildings forbund” [“Workers Educational Association”] an old…organization with access to education, teaching people their union rights, that kind of thing.
CF: Is this run by the Social Democrats?
NG: According to some bosses there, you can’t be part of it unless you are a social democrat, but last Monday the top boss said they are politically neutral.
CF: What is the name of your musical duo?
NG: We are called “Sound of Scandinavia.” We play music that our elderly and frail, or people with health struggles, appreciate.
CF: When did your troubles begin?
NG: March 3, a few weeks ago, we happened to record an event where criminal individuals threw rocks and caused a riot at our local high school here in Hallsberg. We filmed this event. I filmed and Claes drove the car. We were talking while we were filming and we wound up saying things that were a slight bit…well put downs, but we didn’t mean it that way. Both of us stand by the film 100% and we are truly sorry if we have hurt anybody’s feelings…anybody of foreign origins. We didn’t mean to do that.
CM: It’s like this. I have lived in the Dominican Republic for almost 20 years. There it’s like, of you say something like “Blatte” to somebody, it’s not degrading. I have a child from the Dominical Republic and my wife is Arabic. So I have been a “Blatte pappa” and still am.
CF: I don’t know the word “Blatte…”
NG: It’s a word…you have some words you may use…words like…well it’s a downer word
Claes: But it’s not a strong word.
CF: B l a f f e? [Did not hear due to poor connection.]
NG: No, B L AT T E. We all say it, like we’re joking around. But publically and official media you haver to sayare not to use this word in Sweden. You can’t say “foreigner” in Sweden you can only say “immigrant.”
CF: This is a law?
NG: It’s not a law but you’re supposed to be socially aware enough to not say that. For example you say “chocolate ball,” not “negro ball.” [This is a reference to an iconic Swedish confection that was disastrously named in the 60s and re-named in the 90s.]
CF: Can we talk about the event you filmed? Are you able to discuss it?
NG: Yes, we can.
NG: We filmed this event and put it put on Facetime. It was live so people reacted very powerfully. In Sweden it’s not the immigrants per se but integration problems that we have in Sweden. It’s easy to blame the immigrants but it’s not their fault. It’s pur politicans who don’t take responsibility.
CF: What kind of event was it you filmed? [Film clip below.]
NG: It was riots with big rocks, weapons. It’s like the kind of stuff you see in the movies. You hear like…about Stockholm, Goteborg, Malmo, this was totally surreal, that it would happen in our little town, in Hallsberg.
CM: They were throwing rocks at the police and they even hit one of the police cars with something. The police managed to get hold of them after a while. My son was locked in at the school because they locked the doors. We were circling the school to evacuate him.
NG: Then we went round and filmed what happened.
CG: And this went out on FB live stream?
CF: How many people saw that?
NG: About half a million. It went out on Peter Springare’s FB page and other social media.
CF: Had you been alerted to come to the school?
NG: No, we just happened to be driving past…
CF: How did you know there was trouble?
NG: We simply drove past and saw as it was happening.
CF: How old is your son?
CM: He’s 17.
CF: Were you worried for his safety?
CM: I was accustomed to riots from the years we lived in Santo Domingo, there were often riots. I did think something could happen…
NG: With a mass school shootoing or something…
CF: What happened next?
NG: People had a huge reaction, became “skogs tokiga” (forest crazy) and then they called from ABF and said this film could cost us our jobs.
CF: This was on the phone?
NG: Yes, they said politicans had contacted ABF and asked how we could be working for them.
CM: 99% of those who have contacted us have been supportive of us. This has become like an opening shot in Sweden, the start of something…Now people are finally daring to speak the truth about what is happening here. The lid has been pressed down tight previously. We have used our names openly and we have therefore been threatened and my car has been totally smashed up,
CF: Your car has been vandalized?
NG: They told us we had to write our own denunciation, a letter denouncing ourselves. We were told we had to apologize for this bad behavior, which we had already done long ago, for this film, and we also had to come out in public and declare our political “colors.” And we were also to state that we were mentally handicapped and that we don’t understand things very well. That we had been tricked by mass media.
CF: What do you mean, mentally handicapped?
NG: I have Asbergers and Claes have ADHD and [inaudible] autism.
NG: We have never had a complaint about our work,. Everybody says we are the best they have ever had. It’s just the police who think this film is so….they don’t like the film but there have never been complaints about our work.
CF: How long was it between the time you filmed the incident and you got this phone call?
NG: About two hours.
CM: The news spread fast all over Sweden.
CF: This is so shocking. It sounds like GDR.
NG: Tomorrow we have meeting number two.
CF: I hope you will record it.
NG: They have already recorded us but they didn’t tell us.
CF: Insist on recording it. Seriously.
NG: They don’t want us to, they have already told us what to write in the letter and tomorrow they will demand it, they will be very strict.
CF: But you are free people in a democracy.
NG: We aren’t, in Sweden, not really.
CM: Not in Sweden. I can say this, I lived 20 years in the Dominican Republic, in Miami, in Colombia, I have worked professionally with music and so has Nayana. We’re not idiots. We have degrees, we have all kinds of things. But they want us to come out and say we are mentally handicapped and because of that we have been bad, shot this film…
NG: I am actually the first female winner of “Big Brother,” in the whole world.
CF: This is very shocking to me as an American, that they have the nerve to say you are mentally handicapped…
NG: I have Asbergers but I am not ashamed of it. We felt very degraded. You know what they did last week? We have worked extra gigs to raise money for our musical equipment. Last week they came to get our gear so we can’t work. We had other equipment so we used that instead..
CF: So they have stolen your instruments.
CF: Do you have a lawyer?
NG: To be honest, we can’t afford that right now.
CF: You need a lawyer. They have confiscated your gear and they’re trying to eliminate your livelihood. I speak as somebody who that happened to. Don’t let that happen. This is a modern version of communist tyranny.
CM: That’s exactly what it is. I might be exaggerating here but I think we are now getting to the point where some Swedes will have to leave this country. The same way Swedes emigrated to the US to get away from the Church’s persecutions.
NG: Now it’s the politicians who are persecuting us. And we are culture workers, we are not supposed to be quiet. We are supposed to critique society. We are supposed to be a bridge between normal people and those who make the decisions. If culture workers can’t express themselves here…then what happens?
CF: Has Nerikes Allehanda [regional newspaper] written about this?
NG: The only thing they wrote about was about protests against us in the Church, they’re very angry, they wouldn’t look at us in Church, I sat up front…it was so degrading, they wouldn’t even look at me. It felt like a witch burning, like they were going to set fire to me. I believe in God. I want to say though, that our local police did a fantastic job. They locked the schools, they protected the children.
CF: This outbreak of violence was it to do with drug dealers and rival gangs, selling drugs?
NG: Yes. Narcotics, weapons, different gang affiliations.
CF: Why do you two think it is SO important for the Swedish state and media to repress this story? What is this really all about?
CM: I think it’s like this: In Sweden, our main industry is weapons which we sell to other countries. When people who are fleeing somewhere come here, we earn money. Not we ordinary Swedes, but our politicians.
CF: How do they earn money on the migrants, if that is the right word? Immigrants. How does Sweden earn money on them?
CM: Sweden gets money from EU and other countries to receive refugees. I call this the “humans trade.” You earn money, but in a very short sighted way.
CF: EU want the refugees to come to Sweden. But why does EU want them to come to Sweden?
NG: At the bottom of it all, these people really do need help. When the war broke out in Syria…there are so many people in crisis who want to come to Sweden. We are a good country. We are also a social experiment, since the 1970s. We want to be able to say that we are better than others, that we have high morals and we help people. But we don’t have the possibility to do that, really.
CF: Lets’ go back to the incident. Tell me more about what happened.
NG: They threw rocks at the police, these youth, they had weapons, it was a real panic, chaos.
CF: Nayana when you say weapons what do you mean?
NG: They had steel pipes, they had [inaudible.] We didn’t film anybody’s faces. We were careful not to film their faces.
CF: What was the worst thing you said? This word “Blatte?” That word you are not supposed to say…
NG: In Sweden we say “fy fy fy,” (shame, shame, shame) to those words. If you are a good Swede you don’t use words like that.
CM: But it’s not a very harsh word. It really isn’t.
NG: It’s a word you don’t say. Not publicly. You can say it in your kitchen, but you don’t say it in public.
CF: They have not told you to take the film down?
NG: It has been clicked on so many times it’s too late.
NG:We have a perfectly ghastly media here in Sweden. Demanding that every last person think a certain way…They are awful. Just awful.
The media here are constantly attacking Trump. Constantly. I don’t know. I think he seems like he is pretty tough and plain spoken. Media in Sweden is like the Church was in the 1600s.
CF: Fascinating. And I noticed when I lived there recently, briefly, that you hardly have any alternative media. Except News Voice and a few others. I would suggest you read Torbjorn Sassersson’s Newsvoice, if you don’t already.
OK so, about this meeting…you wrote a letter, tell me about that.
NG: I wrote a denial/ denunciation letter but they did not accept it. I wrote that I apologized for speaking in a derogatory way, that we do not believe that the problems we have here in Sweden are the immigrants’ fault, that it is a problem of integration, a political problem. I explained that we are socially liberal. That we believe in democracy, equality…that absolutely nobody should ever be put down but that you must say something when something is wrong.
CF: Could I possibly get a copy of that letter?
NG: Yes, you can. I’ll send it to you.
CF: Thank you. Why didn’t they accept that letter?
NG: They want us to be more exacting what we mean by socially liberal, what that is. I believe in freedom, I believe everybody should be free to be who they are. But that was not enough for them. And then like I said they want us to invoke our mental functioning, apologize, say that we did not understand what we were doing, and that we were exploited by right wing extremist media, who were using the situation politically. We are having an election soon in Sweden.
I am a liberal. By that I mean I believe in laying out the facts and the truth about things.
CF: Claes, did you also have to write a letter or was it one letter for the two of you?
NG: I wrote it for both of us.
CM: My position is, we shot some video, because we happened to be there at the time these events were happening. We have not mismanaged our jobs, at all. We don’t really have anything to apologize for, in fact. Apart from my use of this word. “Immigrants.”
NG: You’re not allowed to say that in Sweden, you have to say “immigrants.”
CF: You can say “immigrants,” but not “foreigners?” To my Swedish-American ear, I don’t hear a big difference, but OK…Did you write a second letter when they rejected the first one?
NG: No, we have this meeting instead, tomorrow at 2 pm. They are formulating a letter that they will demand we sign but we don’t plan to approve it.
CF: The event was the third of March? When did they take your gear?
NG: This past Thursday, at 9 am. They took all our instruments.
CM: Our boss has a whole garage at home with a PA system…but he came and collected ours.
CF: Incredible. Do you feel fear over the possibility of not being able to support yourselves?
CM: There is a great risk that we will be fired tomorrow.
CF: Please record it. Please.
NG: I plan to use the fact that as they have said we have mental incapacity. So we need to know what we have said.
CF: This is important. Otherwise they will do what they will, with your reputations, livelihoods, they can turn it into anything they want. You can even record them saying you can’t record it. In such case, it’s an outright fascist society.
CM: That’s true. I have lived in South America. In countries with fascism. This is worse.
CF: In what way is it worse, in your estimate? I agree.
CM: When I lived in The Dominican Republic, for instance, I was never checked by the authorities. My opinions…nobody was checking that kind of thing. Here they demand to know everything!
CF: Have you been in contact with Peter Springare?
NG: He has contacted us and said he thinks this is ghastly. He has information about these criminals.
CF: It seems to me the missing piece is drugs, gangs. Rival gangs. A friend told me this when I was home in Orebro. She said it kind of quietly. “It’s all about drugs. That’s why they riot and set fires and all the rest. So the cops don’t come in and interrupt their drug trade.”
CM: That’s true. It’s worse than anything I saw in the Carribean.
CF: I noticed when I lived in Sweden recently that people have truly changed. Nobody can talk, nobody wants you to bring anything up, it’s very strange. My friends have been attacking me on FB like I am a criminal for bringing these things up. I am an American. At the end of the day, I don’t care, I can leave. But it must feel very crushing to Swedes to be betrayed like this, that Swedes’ feelings mean nothing, immigrants feelings mean everything.
NG: We are a social experiment. We are to be brought up, shaped, engineered, it’s in our whole education, media.
CM: We don’t need so many jails and things like that because here you can control people anyway [inaudible.] Like me, they can fire me, tomorrow. They can eliminate some social allowance or other. The whole society is built on this system that those citizens who don’t do what the politicians want, they will be punished in some way.
CF: What has the response been among your friends?
NG: Many think it’s a good thing but they would never dare say it themselves. They think we’re brave. They call us whistleblowers. Like Peter Springare. We’re really just simple culture workers, going around trying to play good music for our elderly. We are not trying to be political.
CF: Be prepared that your story can become big internationally. Sweden does not get how bad this publicity is for Sweden, it’s like black PR. In the international community. People are appalled. “What is going ON over there?”
NG: I love my country. I do. But we have to change things. The educational system, the health care system.
In Turkey, all their surveillance is bought from Sweden.
CF: You are spied on, then, just like us?
NG: Yes we are. Same as in America, NSA and everything.
CF: Right. Do they check you on FB and everything.
NG: Every Swede on Facebook knows they are being surveilled by Swedish Secret Service. I have nothing to hide. I hope they go after these terror groups…
CF: But they are wasting a lot of time and resources on hunting down Swedes who say the wrong words. When they have grave problems to deal with. It’s like a psychosis.
NG: I think it’s like this—we are close to an election, and Swedish politicians are worried because SD [“Far right” party, pushing immigration reform] has 20% now. And they are entering an alliance with the Moderate party. Next year we don’t know what Sweden will look like.
CF: What is the truth about women, girls, sexual molestation, rape…? How bad is it?
NG: We have always had public bathhouses in Sweden. Now they want to segregate women and men, so these men can’t make sexual attacks on women.
CM: What they have done here in Sweden is, they have caved in to these extremist groups who want to change society.
NG: The worst part is…for 100 years women have fought for equal rights here. Same salary, same everything, It’s all wiped out, not important anymore.
CF: Nobody cares about women’s rights…?
NG: When a Swedish man commits a sexual crime against a woman the newspapers say: “Swedish man” did this or that. When it is an immigrant they just say, “ a man…”
CM: The statistics on rape have gone sky high. Women don’t dare go out alone.
NG: We can’t even let our girls go to concerts anymore, they get raped and molested. Guys come in packs and molest and rape the girls.
CF: Continue as you are doing, don’t cave in to the shame. You have the world behind you, the civilized world.
CM: Maybe we can play for Donald Trump some day, you never know.
CF: You never know.
Are you aware Sweden is deporting 80,000 people in the next 3 years?
CM: I don’t think they will get hold of them.
CF: Why isn’t that racist?
NG: It’s authorities who aren’t synchronized. They have no integration politics. Sweden needs families with children. I don’t understand why we have to receive all these men. We should go to the war zones like we did in WW2 with the “pink buses” from the Red Cross and pick up women and children. Why all these men? During WW2 the king went to collect Jewish children, why can’t they go to Syria and collect these poor children, and their mothers. Why can’t they do that?
CF: We are missing a piece. Something we don’t know. They’re up to something, the globalists.
Last question, for now: I was wondering, how does it feel? How did this attack make you feel inside? Claes, I’ll start with you.
CM: I’m devastated over these developments. My son is born in the Dominican Republic and he went there to visit family over Christmas. He came home and he was shocked. He said, “Dad, we had it better in The Dominican Republic.” This country has gone backwards. I’m deeply worried about the future here. We have to have the freedom to say what we think. You don’t have to agree with everybody. But we have to allow each person the right to express themselves.
CF: Sweden is almost no longer a democracy at all. It’s like a soft totalitarian system.
CM: I might be unemployed tomorrow, because I shot video of this event. I have not even expressed a political position, I just happened to be there when this riot happened.
CF: Classic totalitarian. Punish all witnesses.
CF: How about you Nayana?
NG: I love Sweden, period. We have to develop our democracy BY inviting everybody into the conversation. It’s when you silence people that things become dangerous.
CF: They count on shame—that you will be ashamed, be emotionally brainwashed.
NG: We won’t be.
CF: Everything they are doing is backfiring.
CM: My thinking is this: If I lose my job tomorrow due to this, I want the whole world to know.
CF: We will see to it. You have allies. You’re dissidents now. Like in any totalitarian regime—you are dissidents.
NG: I may be brave but I am also worried. That doesn’t mean I will stop. They can kill me if they want. I believe every person’s voice should be heard.
CF: Keep people who don’t get what you are about at a distance. I say this from experience. And keep a record of everything. Everything.
“What society had done to me – made me completely powerless – it has also done to you. And just the way it had made me feel like a single lonely nutcase, it made you feel like you were the only one. I most sincerely believe that the real reason for the success of this blog, its global community, its vibrant discussions and the amazing outpouring of kindness towards me is in the following simple fact: I inadvertently made it possible for many thousands of people to realize they they were not alone, not crazy, not wrong but that quite literally “we are everywhere”!”
I find his words to reflect my inexpressible experience, in an organized way I can’t achieve. I have too much grief dust, sheer discomfort, and I enter dream states all day long. How do you escape the cruelty and your own rage, which sometimes starts to create cruelty? What is the prayer of words, what is the idea? Is it time to let go of all these truth battles, when it only makes people leave you?