…a thousand people in the street singing songs and carrying signs singing mostly say, hooray for our side.
Buffalo Springfield, For What It’s Worth (1967)
The downfall of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government on International Women’s Day Friday was not only good news for social equality in Finland but a ray of hope for the country’s most vulnerable groups like single mothers, women, the unemployed, migrants, minorities and others. It is the end to right-wing party politics and to its health reform bid, which ended in failure.
During his government, the tightening of immigration and asylum policy affected not only refugees but the entire migrant community. Sipilä’s government was the most xenophobic that Finland has seen in a long time.
Read the full story in Helsinki Times here.
It’s not rocket science to figure out that their problem, although many, was attributable to a far-right partner, the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* until 2017 and then to Blue Reform.
Amnesty International writes in its 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 report: “Support services for women who experienced domestic violence remained inadequate. Legislation on legal gender recognition continued to violate the rights of transgender people. Draft constitutional changes limiting the right to privacy were proposed.”
Here are some of the questionable “accomplishments” of Spilä’s government with respect to asylum seekers:
- Free legal representation restricted to applicants who required exceptional grounds for assistance;
- Deadline for appeals was lowered from 30 to 21 days after a second rejection and to 14 days after the third rejection;
- The government tightened appeal times in the hope of ejecting asylum seekers faster from Finland;
- There were further administrative restrictions and practical difficulties making the application process more complicated;
- Tightened family reunification laws;
- No time limit on detaining families with children in immigration removal centers like Joutseno and Metsälä;
- Lack of government leadership in tackling Islamophobia and racism contributed to Finland’s hostile environment affecting migrants and inhumane immigration policy.
Locking up families with children is one of the trademarks of Sipiläs asylum policy as this family of nine. Read the full story here.
The brainchild of Finland’s xenophobic immigration policy and hostility towards asylum seekers is the PS with the blessing of the Center Party and National Coalition Party.
Shortly after Sipilä offered his Kempele home in September to asylum seekers, his government announced in December an eighty-point tightening of Finnish immigration policy, according to YLE News (This link is today broken). The new plan by the government means very bad news for asylum seekers and refugees living in Finland.
My greetings to Sipilä and his government?
* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, 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 never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way.
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.