There was a horrible attack against a Pakistani father of two over on February 23. Just to get an idea of the wounds he sustained on that terrible night, it took last week four hours to remove his stitches.
What would have happened if the attackers were three Pakistanis who attacked a white Finn in such a vile manner? What would be the public’s and media’s reaction?
We got an example of this in 2015 when Finnish youths of non-white background sexually assaulted a white woman in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila.
Reporting on such a terrible story is difficult. I still remember a plea that the Pakistani victim told the attackers as he laid on the ground: “Please don’t kill me, I have two children.”
A Pakistani was attacked by three white Finns on February 23 and was near death. Pictured published with the permission of the victim. Photo by Enrique Tessieri.
Getting justice in Finland from a suspected hate crime is difficult.
I called Amnesty International, and they told me to get in touch with the Finnish League for Human Rights. Right, you guessed it. I was told by them to call the Refugee Advice Center. They have a helpline from 10-12, but after waiting for 20 minutes, I gave up.
Fortunately, Victim Support Finland (RIKU) got in touch with me the following day after I left them a message.
I asked if they knew of any lawyers who had experience in handling hate crimes. The person admitted that hate crime is such a new phenomenon in the Finnish penal code that that such lawyers are hard if not impossible to find.
Apart from finding help, the police may be another problem. Some may play down racism due to insufficient training in hate crime cases. They may also erroneously believe that racism “goes away” if they play it down or deny it outright.
I am an anti-racist activist with tools to get information. Imagine if a hate crime victim had to search for a lawyer like I did?
It’s a bit like how this country treats hate speech and racism: It is a long and winding path that can take months to travel. It is a path where you quickly become frustrated and conclude, wrongly, that it’s not worth the trouble because nobody cares.
Finland needs to get real. It requires more effective laws and training in hate crime, hate speech and discrimination.