Ibrahim of Iraq: “Finland is a never-ending long dark tunnel without light”

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Do you remember the patient asylum seeker called Ibrahim*, who applied to hundreds of jobs in Finland and who finally got a job at Posti to deliver newspapers at homes? Well, Ibrahim is so fed up with Finland that he decided to move back to Iraq. 

“Even if you offered me a good-paying job, I would not stay in this country,” he said. “Finland is a never-ending long dark tunnel without light. For my own mental health, it is important I leave before it is too late.”

Having moved to Finland in October 2015, Ibrahim was always an exemplary person and has made many good friends during his stay in Finland. I have only seen him angry twice: When he got his application for asylum rejected the first time in 2016 and now.


Guidelines on what you can take back with you to Iraq. After almost three years, Ibrahim’s possessions must fit in two 23-kg pieces of luggage.

Ibrahim, a computer hardware and data centers specialist in Iraq, blames bad luck for his fate.

“For me, it was a big mistake coming to Finland,” he continued. “I was free from diseases. There is a lot of structural racism and as an asylum-seeker, you will always be a second-class citizen.”

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Revista Fennia: Paluu mistä olimme

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”Joskus menneisyys pelottaa minua.”
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Sokea argentiinalainen kirjailija Borges kuvasi levotonta Argentiina 1970-luvulla monella tavalla. Muistan yhä kun silloin eläkkeellä oleva Horacio-setäni lausui yhden Borgesin siteerauksista samana vuonna kun siviilipresidentti María Martínez de Perón syöstiin vallasta maaliskuu 24 päivä 1976.

”Borges sanoi,” setäni kertoi hymyillen, ”että demokratia on tilastojen väärinkäyttöä.”

Tähän lyhyeen lauseeseen oli pakattu kaikki mitä oli vialla Argentiinassa. Borges ja Horacio antoivat ymmärtää, että vallankaappaus oli hyvä asia, koska poistettiin tehoton presidentti joka oli sen lisäksi nainen ja peronisti. Hän, kuten Borges, eivät uskoneet argentiinalaiseen demokratiaan, erityisesti kun sisällissota ja taloudellinen sekasorto vain paheni Martínez de Perónin vallan aikana.


Lue alkuperänen juttu tästä.

Jos olet joskus vieraillut pohjoisessa Buenos Airesissa Floresin alueella, saatat törmätä moniin minun sukulaisiini. Näiden 1900-luvun alkupuolella rakennettujen pariisilaistyylisten talojen ja mukulakivikatujen varsilla kasvavien tammien katveessa asuu Horacio-setä.

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Argentina’s issues with whitewashing and genocide. Like the crimes committed during the dirty war, they too should be addressed.

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When I was young, I remember very well the racism that inflicted the Argentines. A friend of mine from Rosario highlighted this racism in the following example: A porteño (a resident of the capital Buenos Aires) told his friends that when they travel to countries like Peru they state that they are going to visit South America.

The more one reads Argentine history, genocide and whitewashing of Amerindians and Afro-Argentines become clearer.

From social thinker, Juan Bautista Alberdi (1810-84) to former President Faustino Sarmiento (1811-88), their suspicion and hatred of non-white Europeans is more than clear.


Juan Bautista Alberdi and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Sources: El Intransigente and Organization of American States.

In his most famous book, Bases y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina (1852), Alberdi states: “The indigenous does us justice by naming us Spaniards to this date. I don’t know of any distinguished person of our society that carries a Pehuenche or Auraucano [Amerindian] surname…[W]ho would want their sister or daughter to marry an infamous Araucanian and not a thousand times an English shoemaker?”

Sarmiento, considered the father of Argentina’s education system, not only despised Amerindians but was an ardent defender of white European racial purity. Of the Gauchos, the Argentine cowboy who were mestizos, he said that their only use was to serve as fertilizer when they died.

Sarmiento wrote in El Nacional of Nov. 25, 1857: “Will we be able to exterminate the Indians? For the savages of America, I feel an invincible repugnance that I cannot cure. Those scoundrels are not anything more than disgusting Indians that I would hang if they reappeared…”

Even today, an argument used by some to justify the genocide of the Amerindians is that they were so few. Thus genocide of the Amerindian was not a major crime because they were so few.

Some estimates place the number of Amerindians living outside colonial jurisdiction in the nineteenth century between 300,000 and 2 million.

Historical guilt

Some Argentines put a poker face to cover up the atrocities committed against the Amerindians with arguments by claiming that we are a melting pot.

Nothing could be further from the truth unless “melting pot” means white European.

Racist comments by some white Argentineans reinforce how racism and bigotry are still alive and kicking in the country. “White” in Argentina means anyone who has a European background. Those of mixed mestizo ethnicity, Europeans mixed with Amerindians, are called disrespectfully cabecita negra, or little black head.

In my research of the Finns of Argentina, who founded a Finnish colony in the province of Misiones in 1906, racism was present in the many interviews I did. When I asked one former late colonist how many races there existed, he responded three: “white, black, and pitch-black.”

The colonist whom I interviewed, admitted that race mixing was good but not with blacks. He said he would never accept his daughter marrying an Amerindian, black or member of the Romany community even if the person “were an airline captain.”


A family working at a corn field in Colonia Finlandesa. The picture was taken in 1978. Photo: Enrique Tessieri

In light of our problematic history with non-European whites, should we children and grandchildren of European migrants in Argentina feel guilty for the genocide and whitewashing that took place?

The answer to that question is clear. Recognizing the injustices committed against groups like the Amerindians and Afro-Argentines is a good start to healing wounds.

Acknowledging and correcting what happened to minority groups is similar to how the country has tried to come to grips with the atrocities committed by military regimes, in particular to those that ruled the country during the dirty war (1976-83).

If we as a nation forget our past atrocities and conveniently brush them under the rug, we are in danger of committing the same crimes again.

A person whom I’ve known since childhood was adopted as a baby by a white porteño family and who came from Amerindian parents.  When I met him in 2016, his hatred for Bolivians and other non-white nationals in Argentina surprised and shocked me.

“We got to kick all these Bolivians out of the country,” he said, adding that there are too many of them.

Whitewashing “Made in Argentina”

Throughout Argentine history, we have seen history whitewashed, turned upside down and then right side up again. Consider when Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793-1877), one of Argentina’s most important caudillos of the nineteenth century, went into exile in Great Britain in 1852. His enemies, and they were many, made certain that no plaza or street in Argentina would carry his name until 1989 when his remains were repatriated.

We saw the same happen after Juan Domingo Perón’s overthrow by the military in 1955 with Decree 4161 of 1956, which prohibited people from mentioning the names of Juan Perón and Eva Duarte de Perón.

Looking at the above examples, should we be surprised that so much whitewashing and genocide went on in Argentina?

Not at all.

We must remember that the millions of migrants that moved to Argentina in the nineteenth and twentieth century not only brought with them their physical belongings but also their prejudices and racism. Colonial powers like the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and France reinforced with the examples of colonial oppression, exploitation, mass murder the genocide of groups like the Amerindians.

That racism is ever-present in the treatment of African migrants in Argentina today.

Mauricio Macri and the legacy of racism

Taking into account Argentina’s racialized society and its history of racism, President Mauricio Macri aims at scoring brownie points with the voters by spreading xenophobia and fear of outsiders.

“We can’t allow criminals to keep picking Argentina as a place to commit offenses,” he was quoted as saying in The Guardian. According to the London-based newspaper, the comment was made after Macri signed a controversial and far-reaching executive order that permits foreigners to be deported from Argentina.


Read the full story here.

Singling out and scapegoating certain immigrant groups is the same questionable example found today in the United States and in European countries. Such rhetoric is a slippery slope that can lead to the horrors we saw in Europe in the last century.

Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, who belongs to one of the country’s richest families, didn’t mind labeling and linking crime to immigration like far-right, anti-immigration parties in Europe.

She claimed that “Peruvian and Paraguayan citizens come here and end up killing each other for control of the drug trade.”

Such rhetoric is racist that aims to harm and victimize the good name of certain national and ethnic groups.

Argentina needs today more than ever an earnest debate about its history and how we wronged non-white European minorities.

La Colectiva: Statement on Trump’s and Putin’s summit in Helsinki on July 16

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La Colectiva is a group of Latin American poets and artists residing in Finland. Their names are Martina Miño, Roxana Crisologo, Rosamaria Bolom y Ana Gutieszca. For more information about La Colectiva, visit their page here

La Colectiva es conformada por cuatro poetas y artistas latinoamericanas residiendo en Finlandia. Sus nombres son Martina Miño , Roxana Crisologo Rosamaria Bolom y Ana Gutieszca. Para obtener más información sobre La Colectiva, pueden visitar su página aquí


STATEMENT:

LA COLECTIVA pronounces itself against a position of political neutrality in the demonstrations of July 15 and 16 for the Trump and Putin visit in Helsinki.

We will demonstrate with a clear political position anti-Trump and anti-Putin and not remain in neutrality or complicity with the atrocities and human rights violations directed by these governments.

In this demonstration we will speak out against the rhetoric that positions Latin Americans as second class citizens, drug dealers, rapists, prostitutes,etc from “SHITHOLE COUNTRIES”. We speak out against the kidnapping of 2000 to 3000 immigrant children in the United States, and the brutality, murders and disappearances of women, men, GLBT citizens and discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin by these governments.

To not take a position against, shows a complicity with the oppressor and not with the oppressed. By not taking a position, there is an acceptance of the criminalization of the solidarity we want to exercise in this protest to support citizens who are in positions of vulnerability around the world.

We have a voice and we are not afraid to demonstrate our discomfort and disagreement with the visit of these two individuals.

While many remain neutral, they are killing us.

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PRONUNCIAMIENTO:

LA COLECTIVA se pronuncia en contra de una posición de neutralidad política en las manifestaciones del 15 y 16 de Julio por la visita Trump y Putin.

Nosotrxs marcharemos con una posición política clara anti-Trump y anti-Putin ya que si permanecemos en neutralidad somos cómplices de las atrocidades y violaciones de derechos humanos por parte de estos gobiernos.

En esta manifestación nos pronunciaremos en contra de la retórica que nos posiciona a los Latinoamericanos como ciudadanos de segunda clase, narcotraficantes, violadores, prostitutas provenientes de “SHITHOLE COUNTRIES”. Nos pronunciamos en contra del secuestro de dos mil a tres mil niños de familias inmigrantes en Estados Unidos. Nos pronunciamos en contra de los asesinatos y las desapariciones de mujeres, hombres, ciudadanos LGBT y la discriminación basada en el origen racial y étnico de las personas por parte de estos gobiernos.

No tomar partido en contra demuestra estar del lado del opresor y no del oprimido. Al no tomar una posición se acepta la criminalización de la solidaridad que queremos ejercer en esta protesta para apoyar a los ciudadanos que están en posiciones de vulnerabilidad alrededor del mundo.

Nosotrxs tenemos voz y no tenemos miedo de demostrar nuestro origen, nuestra identidad , y nuestra condición de migrantes.

Mientras muchos permanecen neutrales a nosotrxs nos están matando.

#HKIagainstTrumPutin #HelsinkiSummit #Helsinki2018 #StopTrump#LatinoamericanosenFinlandia #Wecare #sananvapaus #parisuhde#demokratia #LGBT #NosestanMatando

Where is the outcry for the Danish government’s assimilation plans of migrant children?

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Denmark’s xenophobic and especially Islamophobic government plans to regulate by law the life in 25 low-income Muslim neighborhoods in Copenhagen. The message is clear and should cause outrage but we have not heard a humble finger lifted by the European Union about the government’s forced assimilation plan. 

Denmark’s forced assimilation plans should be seen in the same light as conversion therapy for gays and lesbians because it is based on the presumption of what one group subjectively sees as “normal.” Moreover, the motive of those who want to assimilate these Muslims is rooted in racism and white Danish privilege. The last thing they want these children to be when they grow up is to be equal citizens of society with a mind of their own.

Writes the New York Times:

“Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.”


Read the full story here.

Apart from getting answers like what are “Danish values,” there is no guarantee that these children will not suffer from discrimination and racism when they grow older.

The best integration policy that the Danish government can make, without exposing its hypocrisy and racism, is to offer opportunities for people to be treated as equal members of society irrespective of their background. The country’s integration policies make a mockery and sham of those Nordic values that it claims to uphold.

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Rafal Rada Mousa: A good ending to a long uncertain journey from Iraq to Finland

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Rafal Raad Mousa, 18, whose former pseudonym on Migrant Tales was Saboora,* is a very happy young woman together with her family. After a three-year wait in Finland, Rafal and her family of two brothers, sister, and mother now have a residence permit.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the letter and my mother started crying,” she said. “This residence permit took four years to get; we were one year in Turkey and three years in Finland.”

Rafal want to study and get a profession.

“I want to become a pharmacist after I graduate from high school,” she said. “After I graduate as a pharmacist, I’ll start studying painting.”

Rafal says that she likes to paint “because it’s fun.”

Those who know Rafal understand that painting is a way for her to make sense of her life, which has seen its fair share of strife and uncertainty.

On behalf of Migrant Tales and our readers, we wish Rafal and her family much success and a better life in Finland.


 

The “Moon and me” by Rafal Raad Mousa.

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Thailand versus the Mediterranean: Your human value hinges on ethnic and cultural background

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We have all been reading about the rescue operation in northern Thailand and it raises a worrisome question: Why is there so much media coverage of twelve children trapped for sixteen days in a cave when between 23,000 and 28,500 of people have perished in the Mediterranean during 1993-2018 while trying to come to Europe?

While all lives are sacred, the reporting by the media of the trapped boys in Thailand expose the hypocrisy of our values. What the media stories are saying in between the lines is that your value as a human being hinges on the color of your ethnic and cultural background.


Read the full story here.

Those who disagree have only to look at the bloody and racist history of countries like the United States, the Americas and others like Australia.

Those tens of millions of Europeans that fled their continent not only carried their physical belongings but their spiritual baggage like racism and toxic attitudes. By turning a blind eye to the deaths in the Mediterranean, we are only confirming those attributes that enabled so much death and devastation in the world.

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Institute of Race Relations: Police database spreads institutional racism

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Liz Fekete

The IRR welcomes Amnesty International and The Monitoring Group’s recent reports on the racially discriminatory nature of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Gangs Matrix intelligence database.

ai_trapped-in-the-matrixThe fact that the Information Commissioner’s Office has launched an investigation into whether the Metropolitan Police Service Trident Gangs Matrix breaches the Data Protection Act is welcome, but the dangers go beyond this.[1] The Home Office, local authorities and all other public sector agencies involved in the multi-agency approach to combating ‘gang-associated activity’ should, according to the IRR, review procedures to ensure that they are not contributing to a form of racialised data profiling that has serious repercussions for the human rights of young people, particularly black boys and young black men. For there is evidence to suggest we are witnessing a continuation of the ‘Windrush scandal’, only, this time it is the grandchildren of the Windrush generation that have been let down by the expansive scope of the ‘hostile environment’ precept, targeted now at inhabitants of certain neighbourhoods and particular estates in London and, in other areas of the UK.[2]

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