By Enrique Tessieri
What can be done if Finland’s third-largest party in parliament is not only anti-EU but strongly anti-immigration? One of the things you should not do is stay home and gripe. Many immigrants and multicultural Finns had it worse in the early 1980s, when the then Aliens’ Office could throw any foreigner they pleased in jail or deport him from the country.
That was before Finland got its first Alien’s Act in 1983, or 65 years after independence. Immigrants had few if any rights at the time. If you were a foreign resident, the Restricting Act of 1939 made sure that you could not own land and set up businesses in many sectors like forestry.
If you asked the police leadership at the time why Finland had such a restrictive policy against foreigners, their argument is bascially the same even today: To keep criminals from moving to Finland.
With public officials having that kind of attitude, that foreigners are potential criminals, it’s pretty clear why xenophobia and racism have grown strong roots in this country.
Rodolfo Walsh was a radical journalist from Argentina who was killed for speaking out against the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina in 1976-83.
Even if Walsh’s quote below has a 1970s spirit in it, the message is still applicable to immigrants and multicultural Finns: Our dominant classes have made sure that the worker has no history, doesn’t have a doctrine, any heroes or any martyrs. Every struggle has to be started from scratch, separated from previous struggles; the collective history is lost, their lessons are forgotten. History appears as it if were private property, whose owners are the owners of everything.
One will find that immigrants and multicultural Finns have hardly any history in Finland. Why? Because this group hasn’t been acknowledged. But if we look a bit closer, there is a lot that can be brought to the surface like that very important and symbolic march of October 19, 1982.
Hopefully it will inspire new immigrants and Finns from all backgrounds to march and demand their rights in a Finland that is still struggling to accept us.
This picture of the 1982 march was published on the front page of HYY=Peli.
As one can see from the picture that appeared on the front page of Kansan Uutiset (20.10.1982), the march attracted many people. It was also the main story on the 8:30pm news on television.