General manager Milja Saksi of Luona, a private company that operates eight asylum reception centers in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Hyvinkää, claims to have taken necessary steps to address the racist treatment of its asylum seekers, according to YLE.
“We don’t permit racist or inappropriate behavior [from our staff] towards asylum seekers,” said Saksi. “We have made personnel changes if people aren’t suitable to work at our reception centers.”
Certainly the million-euro unconfirmed question is what has Luona done to turn in a new leaf?
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Member of the Louna board, National Coalition Party MP Sanna Lauslahti, gives us the same assurances as Saksi, who assures us that the company has “zero tolerance for racism.”
“Ethical standards are very important for our board, for example, we don’t budge an inch on human rights” she was quoted as saying in Iltalehti. “
Luona, which houses 3,000 asylum seekers, has been under media scrutiny in February for the humiliating and racist treatment of its asylum seekers.
The abusive treatment that some asylum seekers endure at Luona’s reception centers is so abusive that some claim the first word they learned in Finnish is vittu , or f**k.
The cuss word vittu is commonly used by employees and security guards at Luona when addressing asylum seekers. They are addressed as vittu pakolaisia, or f**king refugees.
Migrant Tales has been at the forefront of exposing such humiliating and racist treatment by Luona employees and management.
We even approached Helsingin Sanomat in the end of January with a story we published on January 29.
Helsingin Sanomat said that even if they hadn’t bothered to read the whole story, which they didn’t consider news. “We get a lot of tips about how pensioners are treated poorly at senior citizen homes,” the reporter said explaining why they weren’t interested in our story.
Despite Helsingin Sanomat’s refusal, Suomen Kuvalehti in January, and this month YLE and tabloids such as Iltalehti have given wide coverage on how poorly asylum seekers are treated at Luona’s reception centers.
Even Helsingin Sanomat wrote a story about it in February.
While the Finnish media appears to give Luona the benefit of the doubt, there are many serious questions that remain unanswered. Despite all the assurances that “we have zero tolerance for racism,” there is no confirmation that anything has changed.
One source at the company told Migrant Tales that Luona continues to treat its asylum seekers in the same racist and humiliating manner as before.
“Nothing has changed because nothing has been done,” the source said. “The problem is that the management continues to be a racist as before.”
And this is a valid point. How do you eradicate racism and change the ways of the staff in an instant? How do you teach an old dog new tricks?
Luona could tell us how they taught an old dog new tricks?