Undocumented pensioner and migrant grandmother: “I’m being deported”

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In March, we wrote about the case of an over sixty-year-old disabled white undocumented migrant whose residence permit had been rejected by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) because she wanted to live with her daughter and grandchildren. 

Finland’s strict immigration policy is that it doesn’t recognize grandparents as part of the nuclear family.

A few years ago, there were two high-profile cases in the Finnish media involving grandmothers. Migri had tried to deport unsuccessfully three times a Russian citizen, Irina Antonova, who had suffered a stroke in Finland while visiting her daughter. Egyptian grandmother Eveline Fadayel was granted a residence permit after a lengthy battle with Migri officials.

In spring, when I spoke to Sheryl* the first time, she had overstayed her visit to Finland and had become an undocumented migrant. Her future in Finland was left to chance until two policemen “barged” in her home this month.

She then messaged me.

Read the full story here

After the police visited her home, Migri gave Sheryl a month to leave the country. Her passport was confiscated and Migri will only return it after she has purchased a plane ticket.  She said that she has no will to leave her daughter and family behind or the money yet to buy the plane ticket. 

Sheryl said that in North America she has no home and will try to live with friends for 90 days, when she will be able to return back o Finland. 

“We are all very upset by what happened,” she said. “I haven’t broken the news to my three grandchildren, who are 3, 5, and 6 years old. I know the news will make them cry.”

Sheryl blames Finland’s “inhumane” immigration policy for separating families.

“My daughter and her children are the only family I have,” she said. “Why can’t I stay if I’m not a drain on the system?”

*The real name of the person was changed and she spoke on condition of anonymity.

Soldiers of Odin expand to Finland’s Åland Islands

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I ran across a story in Seura about the far-right vigilante group, Soldiers of Odin, starting a chapter in Finland’s Åland Islands. Migrant Tales has wondered in a number of stories the Finnish media’s fascination with far-right and racist groups like the Soldiers of Odin. 

But it’s not only the media that gives space and exposure to such Nazi- sympathizing groups, some police representatives don’t see any problems with them either.

“In my opinion, it’s positive that we have more ears and eyes in [Åland] society, which inform the police,” Maria Hoikkala, Åland chief of police, was quoted as saying in Ålandstidningenille.

Read the full story (in Swedish) here

In light of the police’s continued mixed response to far-right vigilante groups and the media’s apparent fascination with them, one may correctly ask why was the story about this group published in a Åland newspaper? The story doesn’t tell us, but we may be talking about a “taxi organization,” or that all of its members can fit in the back seat of a car. 

Why is this a story in the first place and why does the chief of police not have any issues with this far-right group that marches and has sympathies with neo-Nazi groups?

Is it because they are white? 

The fact that a group identifies with neo-Nazis raises a lot of questions about Hoikkala’s knowledge about the horrors of World War 2. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: What similarities are there between Finnish immigration policy and the US administration’s zero- tolerance policy?

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“In order to deter and discourage migrants and asylum seekers from coming to the country, the Trump administration implemented the controversial zero-tolerance immigration policy. One of the horrific matters about that policy is locking up and separating children from their parents. 

While different in some respects, US zero tolerance and Finland’s immigration policy are fuelled by the same factor: deterrence

In order to deter and set a negative example for other asylum seekers fleeing war, Finland detains children. The motive for such an inhumane policy is to deter others from coming to the country. 

How many times have we heard different representatives of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government justify the tightening of immigration policy and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers to deter other ones from coming to Finland?

This shameful policy leads us down a slippery slope where our values as a society and our institutions are undermined and suffer cracks.”

Finnish police suspected of sedating asylum seekers on deportation flights. It may break the law, according to a medical specialist.

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There has been a suspicion that the police use sedatives when deporting asylum seekers on flights. According to  Markku Toivonen, a medical specialist, considers the use of sedatives unethical and even illegal, according to Iltalehti

“The point here is if medication is given against [the person’s] will or whether there is consent,” Toivonen was quoted as saying. “In any case, from a physician’s point of view, if the person is not only bound but given medication [sedatives] on an airplane [by the police] it may be a violation of the law in such deportation cases.”


Read the full story (in Finnish) here, and in English here.

Migrant Tales published in January 2017 a story about the deportation of an Iraqi at Oulu airport. As the asylum seeker spoke and recorded his deportation on social media, a substance, possibly a sedative, sprayed inside the van. “And it smells bad,” the asylum seeker said.

If such cases are true, it reveals that there is too little scrutiny of the police in deportation cases.

This must change like Finland’s inhumane immigration and asylum policy towards non-EU citizens.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: How anti-diversity and Islamophobic is Finland?

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“One of the big denials that one still hears a lot in Finland is its denial of the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, an Islamophobic party that won 39 seats in the parliamentary elections of 2011 from just 5 MPs in previously. There was an ongoing debate after 2011 within the PS on what caused its historic election victory. Then party leader Timo Soini claimed it was anti-EU sentiment while its present leader, Jussi Halla-aho, claimed it was the PS’ Islamophobic stance. 

While it’s clear that the PS’ anti-Islam campaign rhetoric played a crucial role in 2011, one wonders how some 20% of the voters were receptive to Islamophobia and bigotry. The PS’ election victories in 2011 and 2015 are valid examples that Finland has serious issues with xenophobia and especially with Islamophobia. Unless we want future generations of Finns to learn how not to hate other cultures and ethnic backgrounds, we need a radically new definition of Finnish identity.

In that new definition, all religions, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures fit in that new identity.”

 

 A study on Europe’s most racist countries commissioned by the European Commission published in Fem Positive.

 

* 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.

Facebook Frida Selim: Mitä teet jos mies uhkailee hakea asunnostaan haulikon?

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Sain viest torstaina yöllä, että “isokokoinen kaluju ja tatuoitu valkoinen suomalainen mies oli uhanut naista, Frida Selim, haulikolla. Selim soittii poliisille muttei mitä tapahtunut eikä viranomainen tullut paikalle. Hän vielä odottaa poliisin käyntiä selvittämään asia.  

Toivottavasti asia selviä.


Lue alkuperänen Facebook juttu tästä.

Postaus julkaistu luvalla.

Finland’s lost decade and how asylum seekers exposed our hypocrisy and cowardice

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The recent example of civil disobedience by Aino Pennanen, when on a Finnair flight Tuesday she attempted to stop a deportation of an asylum seeker. In a country like Finland, where civil disobedience is almost unheard of today, Penanen’s example speaks volumes about how some Finns have lost the trust of their government never mind the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).

Just like the Perussuomalaiset and Blue Reform parties together with the National Coalition Party and Center Party have brought us a lost decade by flirting and promoting racism and polarization of society, future historians and students of Finnish society will study this decade as one of its low and shameful points.

Even so, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government turns out a steady stream of rehearsed denials while showing its contempt for the most vulnerable sectors of our society.

Contrary to a military battle, which is won by physical force, an ideological battle can never be won. Even if fascism looked buried deep in the grave a few decades ago, it is lifting today its ogre-like face with a vengeance. The same is true of communism. Communism and socialism did not die when the former Soviet Union fell from grace in 1991. It just went into hibernation.

Finland’s immigration and asylum policy

The history of Finland’s immigration policy and its views of diversity raise a lot of questions. It was only in 1983 when Finland got its first immigration act. Before that, and like in many countries that did not respect human rights, Finland denied foreigner, among many other things, habeas corpus. Finland even returned Soviet citizens back to the USSR even if they asked for asylum.

If we have not had an earnest debate about the questionable way Finland’s immigration policy treated non-Finns in the last century, how can we have an honest discussion today about our immigration and asylum policy, which have come under heavy criticism from human rights groups like Amnesty International?


Aleksander Shatravka and Irina visited my home in Mikkeli in October 2011. He was forcibly returned to the Soviet Union despite requesting asylum from Finland in 1974.


Finland is still suffering from Urho Kekkonen amnesia. Even so, heroines like Pennanen with her civil disobedience show to us that this country’s eyes are slowly but surely waking up from its long cold war slumber.

That was a disgraceful period when it came to refugees and migrants but we seem to always return to it like now.

* 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.

Woman attempts to stop deportation on Finnair flight but is escorted off the flight instead

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After Elin Ersson stopped a deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker with her courageous example on a flight from the Swedish city of Gothenburg to Istanbul in Turkey, a young Finnish woman called Aino Pennanen attempted to stop a similar deportation on a Finnair flight Tuesday by refusing to sit down. 

The captain of the Finnair flight said that he would not accept Pennanen’s request because the deported asylum seeker was a paying passenger.

Pennanen said on a Facebook posting that the police escorted her off the plane after the pilot called the police.

“The deported person was [sitting] in the back row, the police held him sightly and if he tried to move, his head shoved under the seat,” Pennanen writes on Facebook. “A number of passengers asked what was going and one asked me to stop [what I was doing] because the passenger had a connecting flight to catch.”

She continued: “I have no idea where this person (asylum seeker) is being taken and what will now happen to him. But in this situation, I did not have any other option but to help. I didn’t succeed.”

The woman said that she hoped that other passengers would resist deportations in the same way as her.

Pennanen said that Finland’s asylum policy lacks credibility and deporting people to countries like Afghanistan puts such people in harm’s way.

We at Migrant Tales applaud such civil disobedience.