Ongoing debate on asylum seekers in Finland: Lawmakers who play or are ignorant of our laws and basic human rights

by , under Enrique Tessieri

As I watched the A-studio: Talk debate about the record number of asylum seekers in Finland, I thought about Kadar Gelle, an anti-racism activist who watched Monday’s A-studio debate, where Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Tom Packalén, a former policeman who has built a political career on racist rhetoric, debates with Somali Finn Mukhtar Abib about the government’s plans to tighten immigration policy.  

Writes Kadar on his Facebook wall:

I turned on the A-studio program and saw Tom Packalen speaking about immigration. My blood started to boil from zero to one hundred until I understood that I can change television channels. It’s a waste of time to listen to a narcissistic and racist loudmouth [like Packalén] who suffers from a personality disorder. I turned off the television and my pulse went back in an instant to normal.

It’s interesting to note when watching Thursday’s A-studio debate on the record number of asylum seekers that have come to Finland how politicians capitalize on people’s fears.

Politicians like Eerola and many other act irresponsibly and recklessly especially during these times by spreading fear and xenophobia among an already frightened population. This shouldn’t surprise us since they have worked relentlessly to instill fear of migrants and asylum seekers. They have built lucrative political careers with the help of xenophobia and fear-mongering.

Juho Eerola is another PS MP who has built a political career on bigotry. The way he speaks about migrants is not only insulting but reveals his true political colors and what he wrote in 2010 about Benito Mussolini.

He wrote: “I myself am attracted to Benito Mussolini’s fascism, and in particular the economic policy [the country] pursued.”

Do you think that a person who sympathizes with Mussolini and who is a far right anti-immigration politician has anything constructive to say about how migrants should be integrated and become equal members of society?

Näyttökuva 2015-12-11 kello 6.04.25
PS MP Eerola’s pet topic is now one-way adaption or assimilation. Why? Because he wants to keep Finland white. See full TV program here.

One of the most crucial matters that these types of debate programs forget is Section 6 of our Constitution, which states:

No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.

Somehow, and since we are speaking of people like asylum seekers and migrants, anything can be said, even deprive them of their most basic civil and human rights.

Moreover, there’s as well the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, and Section 17 of our Constitution that clearly state that everyone, irrespective of his or her national, cultural or ethnic background, has the right to his or her language and culture.

Section 17 of the Finnish Constitution: “The Sami, as an indigenous people, as well as the Roma and other groups, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture.”

Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU states: “The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.”

So what does Eerola, a lawmaker, state on A-studio: Talk about our ever-growing culturally diverse society?

“Practicing and maintaining one’s own culture is the culture’s and its members’ task and should be practiced, supported and maintained at home,” he said. “I strongly disagree that it [culture and language] should be maintained by Finnish society and Finnish tax payers and that they should support and give preference [to languages and cultures] that aren’t from here.”

Eerola’s statement should worry us, especially those of us who aren’t white Finns. His statement is a rude reminder of the bigotry that exists in parliament. His views are a perfect example of white Finnish privilege at its worst.

The PS MP’s political views of cultural diversity reveal his ignorance of Finnish immigration, when over 1.2 million Finns left this country between 1860 and 1999. In each country where these migrants established themselves maintaining the Finnish and Swedish language as well as their culture was important and one of the struggles of being a migrant in a foreign land.

Migrant Tales hopes that the ongoing debate about asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society will take into account those basic civil rights guaranteed by law to everyone who lives here irrespective of the person’s “sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.”

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.

  1. Yossie

    I ask you once again: Don’t you think you are doing exactly the same thing you are preaching against? Spreading fear and xenophobia among an already frightened migrant population?

    “The PS MP’s political views of cultural diversity reveal his ignorance of Finnish immigration, when over 1.2 million Finns left this country between 1860 and 1999. In each country where these migrants established themselves maintaining the Finnish and Swedish language as well as their culture was important and one of the struggles of being a migrant in a foreign land.”

    Sure, do they maintained their culture and language with the money of US tax payers? Schools provided finnish classes to immigrant’s children? If you think US and other countries were such a perfect example, then why is what Eerola said so shocking to you? After all he is just advocating the exact same treatment finnish immigrants got in US and elsewhere.

    Oh, and how does the children of these immgrants do nowdays? They think themselves Finns and speak Finnish?

    • Migrant Tales

      Yossie, I don’t know which group you identify with but your comments suggest with the white Finn majority. Contrary to the PS and some politicians in Finland, I try to inform some migrants about the situation, which is pretty bad at this moment. There is a huge difference between the fear of the majority compared and the fear of the minority.

      This new argument by the PS, “maintained by US tax payers,” is kind of funny. We live in 2015 not in 1901. And the United States could to a lot more to recognize different languages like Spanish. In other words I live in Finland, in a EU country, and I’m interested in how they apply, for example, the EU laws and our Constitution. This is not an area of debate. It’s the law and you are a law-abiding person, right?

      Eerola is a simpleton who only regurgitates what Halla-aho, who was sentenced for ethnic agitation, says. I know this is a gross generalization but you understand my point.

    • Migrant Tales

      – Oh, and how does the children of these immgrants do nowdays? They think themselves Finns and speak Finnish?

      Empirical studies show that children who can speak well their mother tongue learn other languages faster and better. The model you are suggesting is assimilation. We don’t assimilate people in Finland – we integrate, which is a huge difference.

      But if it makes you feel any better, what happens in many cases in Finland is assimilation, not integration.

    • Yossie

      Yes, we live in 2015 but it is you who always keep coming up with 1,2 millions emigrants 1860-1999 when we talk about immigration.

      Constitution says they have right to their language and culture. That means we can’t tell them not to talk their language. That does not mean we need to provide them language studies in schools. That is what Eerola said..

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