There is a strong argument that the Kolari reception center, located in the far-flung village of 3,857 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere, is a copy of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and specifically Social Welfare Minister Hanna Mäntylä’s contempt against asylum seekers and of regional policy that is unconstitutional.
In January 2015, the PS suggested sending unemployed migrants to live in far-flung regions of Finland, according to the party’s official immigration policy. If an unemployed migrant refused, their welfare and unemployment benefits would be affected.
While such policies are a clear violation of human rights and of Section 6 of our Constitution, which guarantees that we are all equal before the law irrespective of one’s background, they are tested with dismal results at the Kolari asylum reception center.
Read full PS immigration program (in Finnish) here.
Unhappiness at the Kolari reception center runs high. Below are two messages from an asylum seeker published in a precent Migrant Tales story:
One asylum seeker at Kolari believes that their poor treatment at the camp is intentional.
“They want us to go back to our countries [by keeping us at the Kolari reception center], but we cannot go back,” the asylum seeker said.
Why are people, who have seen so much suffering, told that only a miracle can spare them from Kolari? The only way a person can leave Kolari to another reception center is if he or she has a medical reason or if the police require the person near a police service station.
For some odd reason, the some staff at the reception center don’t tell them that employment and reuniting with relatives in another city are other reasons that could help get them a permanent ticket out of the center.
A Kolari asylum seeker comparing the center to the Guantanamo prison when over 120 asylum seekers demonstrated on May 4. The origin of the affirmation comes from an asylum seeker center staffer who threatened an asylum seeker in Vantaa that he’d be sent to Finland’s Guantanamo (Kolari reception center) if he didn’t shape up.
We’ve heard unconfirmed reports Friday that the reception center will have its water cut off for 12 hours on Monday. One asylum seeker fears that if the problem isn’t fixed by Monday, it could mean that the asylum center won’t have water for a whole month.
Migrant Tales approached two Red Cross officials about transferring to another camp. One high-ranking Red Cross official said that they don’t keep people at reception centers “against their will.”
The above isn’t entirely accurate since they do keep people against their will like at Kolari.
The final decision whether an asylum seeker transfers to another camp is made by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”