The story of two asylum seekers in Finland: Arezo’s and Saboora’s three drawings


Two women, a young mother of two children, and of a teenage girl who traveled with her family to Finland in 2015. Both have something in common even if they are from different countries: Both are refugees who still don’t know if they will get asylum in Finland. Two years have gone by since their long and dangerous journey started to Finland.

The first drawing is by Arezo*, who came to Finland from the Afghan city of Ghazni, located in southeastern part of the country.

“The trip to Finland took about a month,” she said. “It started from Afghanistan, and then we went with my husband and two children, who were then four- and two-years-old,  we went to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and finally Tornio, Finland.”

Arezo said that the journey was arduous and that she was especially afraid for her family when they boarded a boat that took them from Turkey to Greece.

“The journey was long and difficult,” she continued. “We came with a lot of hope, but now there hangs a big question mark if we will get asylum in Finland.”

Arezo’s drawing shows a boat sailing from Turkey to Greece with the words in Finnish: “The journey was challenging. Please stop deportations [of asylum seekers].

The Iraqi teenager, whom we will call Saboora*, is 18 years old and likes to draw. In the first drawing, she said that the journey from Turkey to Greece was fast and took 45 minutes.


A call to inclusion but there is no room for such words today


Migrant Tales insight: I am a board member of Finland Society, an association that looks after Finnish expat rights abroad, and had spoken to the editor of Finland Bridge and the association’s executive director about writing a column about Finland in the twenty-first century. Due to the restructuring of the magazine and the tight economic situation, they will not publish the article below. I never got a reply when I wrote back and offered that they could publish the column for free. 

If we want to bring Finnish society up to speed with the twenty-first century, which is nothing more than acknowledging that our nation has always been, is, and will be culturally diverse, is one of the biggest struggles that minorities and migrants will face this century in Finland. That struggle involves as well second, third and fourth generation people of Finnish origin. 

The whole issue boils down to sharing public space, which some groups in Finland are fighting tooth and nail to deny others of having a place under the Finnish sun. Such groups and people falsely believe that as our society becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse, things in Finland will continue as they are. They lazily sit on couches and demand that others adapt to them.  

 Assimilation, or one-way adaption, is an expectation that society won’t change no matter how many people from different cultures and religions move to your country. The process is a bit like sitting on a sofa and telling newcomers that they must adapt to me. There are many types of sofas like in the above picture that could represent regions or countries. All have the sofas, however, have the same expectation in assimilation: I have privileges, you don’t. I therefore call the shots in this country. Source: Sairafurniture.

Do you think that the column below should appear in Finland Society’s magazine, Finland Bridge?

After being a regular columnist for the magazine for over 20 years, my relationship ended in 2016. I never received a humble thank you for the many years I contributed to Finland Bridge.

A call to inclusion but there is no room for such words today

Finland’s has a long and rich migrant history, and this should help guide us to build an inclusive and just country as our society becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse during this century.

While this should be the case, I fear that we have lost precious time and been distracted by populism and simplistic answers on how to move forward on diversity.

If we’re to learn from countries that have taken millions of migrants and study the experiences of our Finnish communities in countries like Canada, United States, Sweden, Australia, and Argentina, there are two fundamental concepts to keep in mind: opportunity and social equality.

We can look at the opportunity from many angles: opportunity to build a better life, the opportunity to succeed, and the opportunity to become an equal member of society irrespective of one’s background. None of the latter would be possible to achieve if we don’t cherish social equality as an essential value.

A missing debate

Cultural theorist Stuart Hall (1932-2014) wrote in the 1990s, “The capacity to live with difference is…the coming question of the twenty-first century.”


Asylum seeker in detention cell 406: Administrative court halts deportation order temporarily


After a nerve-racking week, The Administrative Court has stopped temporarily deportation proceedings of Iraqi asylum seeker in detention cell 406 in Lappeenranta, Finland.

“I was relieved when I heard the news from the lawyer (Friday),” he said. “This has given me hope and I almost gave up hope and didn’t mind if I died.”

Even if the deportation was stopped it doesn’t mean that the asylum seeker is out of the woods.


“On my second application for asylum I got a rejection from Migri (The Finnish Immigration Service),” he continued. “I don’t know how long it will take for the administrative court to decide but it may take as much as 3-6 months.”

The Iraqi asylum seeker said that he would like to be freed from detention but that the authorities are skeptical because he traveled to Germany, where he was deported back to Finland.

“I have told the police that I will not go anywhere or leave the country if I’m freed from detention,” he continued. “This detention center is a horrible place. There are human smugglers and murderers. What am I doing in such a place?”


QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Racism is everywhere. Our denial allows us to pin it on one group


“When people speak of racism in Finland they refer to the Perussuomalaiset* and Blue Reform. They do so to wash their hands of the social ill by claiming that it is a minority fringe group that is the country’s racism problem. Racism is everywhere in Finland and so well-entrenched that it forms part of our institutions and permits us to deny and deceive ourselves of the existence of the problem.”

Racism is not granting public spaces to Others but denying the right of migrants and minorities to have such spaces as equal members of society.

* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity.  One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic. 

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.

Puhemies Maria Lohelan kauheimmat sitaatit: Onko hän sittenkin vain mörkö?


Yksi asia on selvä jos lukee puhemiehen ja entisen perussuomalaisen, nykyisten sinisten kansanedustajan, Maria Lohelan, kirjoituksia 2008-2016: ne ruokkivat vihaa maahanmuuttajia kohtaan ja vähemmistöjen vastakkainasettelua. Lohela on politiikko, joka vihaa ja kyseenalaistaa erilaisuutta yleistämällä ja ruokkimalla ennakkoluuloja.

Lohelan pienessä maailmassa erilaisuus ja toiseus eivät kuulu julkiseen tilaan Suomessa, koska se kuuluu vain hänen kaltaisilleen suomalaisille.

Lohela sanoi puhemiehen valinnan jälkeen ettei “kaduta yksikään kirjoitus.”


Kun Lohela valittiin vuoden käyttäytyjäksi 2016, hän väitti saman kuukauden aikana: “On naiivia kuvitella, että hyvin erilaisesta kulttuurista tuleva henkilö rajan ylitettyään omaksuu suomalaisen yhteiskunnan arvot ja käytöskoodin. Suomalainen maan tapa ei ole kaikkien mielestä maailman paras. Joku toinen pitää irakilaista, venäläistä tai kiinalaista tapaa kaikkein parhaana. Lue koko juttu tästä.

Vaikka Lohela on kylvänyt vihaa ja epäluuloja maahanmuuttjia ja vähemmistöjä vastaan, hän saa tunnustusta ja kehuja yhdistyksiltä ja ihmisiltä jotka väittävät taistelevansa yhdenvertaisuuden ja tasa-arvon puolesta. Hänet jopa nimitettin eduskunnan puhemieheksi 2015.


(FaktaBaari) Baaripuhetta: Euroopan ja Suomen viimeaikaiset “ihmisvirrat” historian näkökulmasta


– Antero Leitzinger, VTT, tutkija Maahanmuuttovirasto

Luonnossa kaikki virtaa, mikään ei pysy muuttumattomana. Ihmiset ja kansat ovat aina vaeltaneet: paimentolaiset, kauppiaat, pyhiinvaeltajat, kulkurit, kerjäläiset… Tämä perinne joutui ahtaalle vasta 1800-luvulla kun maailmankartoista loppuivat tyhjät alueet, rajavalvonta tiivistyi, vero- ja kutsuntaviranomaiset tarvitsivat väestöluetteloita, lukutaito ja byrokratia lisääntyivät, kansalaisille määrättiin velvollisuuksien lisäksi oikeuksia ja hyvinvointivaltiot alkoivat tarjota asukkailleen sosiaalietuuksia.

Suurin kertaryntäys Suomen rajojen yli ei ollut 9101 irakilaisen ja 1735 muun maan kansalaisen turvapaikanhaku kuukauden kuluessa syyskuussa 2015. Sen kanssa nimittäin kilpailee ainakin kolme pakolaisaaltoa 1900-luvun alkuvuosikymmeniltä:


Alkuperäisen blogikirjoituksen voi lukea tästä.

Viipuri 1905

Yhtenä ainoana lauantaipäivänä 11.11. 1905 Viipuriin saapui yli 8 000 Pietarin juutalaista pogromihuhua pakoon. Seuraavana päivänä tuli vielä 2 000 ihmistä lisää.[1] Kun pogromia ei tullutkaan, useimmat palasivat pian koteihinsa, mutta osa kierteli vielä kukkapuskien kanssa kiittelemässä Viipurin ja Valtion Rautateiden viranomaisia vieraanvaraisuudesta.

Pietarin juutalaiset olivat tunteneet olevansa turvassa Suomen suuriruhtinaskunnan puolella, heille oli järjestetty hätämajoitusta ja soppatarjoilua ratapihalle, suomalaisten rehellisyys ja rauhallisuus olivat tehneet syvän vaikutuksen, moni päätti viettää Suomessa myös kesälomia ja sortokausien välillä hetkellisestä vapaudesta hengähtänyt Suomi oli saanut tärkeitä ystäviä Venäjällä.


¿Por qué no hay una calle en Finlandia que lleva el nombre Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959)?


Una pregunta simple: ¿Por qué no hay una calle que se llame Rosa Emilia Clay en Finlandia? Clay era la primera africana que recibió la ciudadanía finlandesa en el año 1899. No existe una calle que lleva el nombre de Rosa Emilia Clay en Tampere, donde vivió un tiempo antes de emigrar a los Estados Unidos en 1904, ni tampoco en el pueblo de Mustinlahti, donde fue maestra de primaria en 1898.

Es tiempo ya que pongan una calle con el nombre de Rosa Emilia Clay.

Rosa Emilia Clay.