Prime Minister Juha Sipilä fuels Finland’s hostile environment for migrants

by

While I was not surprised by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s comments about migration and the rise of the far right in YLE’s Ykkösaamu talk show, the interview offers a good example of how his government continues to fuel Finland’s hostile environment for migrants. 

According to Adrian Berry, a leading UK immigration lawyer, defined in in The Guardian, the term hostile environment: “It is a series of legislative initiatives to make it much more difficult to lead an ordinary life in the UK, but secondly, a change in direction in the way the Home Office assesses individual people.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is considered the brainchild of the UK’s hostile environment. 

This definition by Berry offers us the opportunity to assess the hostile environment for migrants in Finland.  In the same manner, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government has tightened immigration laws which in turn has changed radically the way Finland assesses people from certain countries, especially Muslims from Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Anti-immigration rhetoric and mistrust have made the lives of migrants and minorities more difficult because they encourage social ills like racism and discrimination. 

Sipilä’s comments in YLE’s Ykkössmu talk show how much in the dark the prime minister- Blaming the riots in Chemnitz on “uncontrolled immigration” is sticking one’s head in the sand. 

The reason why Sipilä invested few words in the show on the threat of the far right in Europe is either because he is in denial or ignorant of the problem in a European historical context. Remember the slippery slope that led to Nazi Germany’s final solution?

A recent editorial in The Guardian wrote the following about the demonstrations in Chemnitz: “It is disturbing to see a far-right mob rampage through the streets of any city but, for obvious historical reasons, the scene is uniquely distressing in Germany.” 

OK, you don’t believe in the liberal media. Let’s look at what Spiegel Online of Germany wrote: “In Chemnitz, refugees find themselves under threat by neo-Nazis and hooligans. Politicians have pledged to take a hard line against right-wing extremist violence, but they look helpless nonetheless. Meanwhile, the right wing seems to have the upper hand in Saxony.”

Veikka Lahtinen tweets: “When the prime minister explains that “uncontrolled immigration” is the cause for the racist demonstrations in Germany,  you can guess that [parliamentary and EU elections] are less than a year off, and that in Finland the only center-right response to the extreme right is to use the same language.” 

What does the conservative Financial Times write? 

“Chemnitz, Saxony’s third-biggest city, has become a symbol of the relentless rise of the hard right in Germany. At a series of demonstrations this week, young men in black hoodies changed ‘Germany for the Germans’ and ‘Foreigners Out.’ A country that thought it had long ago laid Nazism to rest was confronted with its ugly rebirth.”

Prime Minister Sipilä’s interview revealed how much of a bubble – like the EU – the prime minister inhabits. Sipilä actually believes that by raising the number of quota refugees from 750 to 1,500 will help alleviate the so-called immigration crisis.

What Sipilä conveniently forgot to offer are the solutions to stop people from migrating to Europe from regions like Africa. Without even offering a shred of evidence, he suggested too many of them were economic migrants. 

As a Latin American, and after so much meddling in our politics and economy by Washington, my family decided to migrate to the United States because there wasn’t a bright enough future in Argentina.

If you have not solved the “migration problem” up to now, it is only a pipedream to believe it will be solved in the near future. Matters will only get worse. 

Prime Minister Sipilä’s comments reinforce how much in the dar he and his government is on immigration and a slew of other issues. 

Finland’s ministry of the interior will (alas) launch an independent inquiry of Migri

by

Conservative National Coalition Party Minister of the Interior Kai Mykkänen announced Friday that an independent inquiry of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) will be launched, according to YLE. The minister said, however, that the independent inquiry should not be seen as a lack of trust in Migri’s work, which has had to process some 45,000 residence permit applications. 

Calls for an independent inquiry of Migri, which could be carried out by UNHCR, has the support of opposition parties like the Social Democrats, the Greens, and Swedish People’s Party as well as of NGOs like Amnesty International, Finnish Refugee Council, and the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. 

Frank Johnson, the director of Finland’s Amnesty International chapter, welcomed the announcement by Mykkänen. He said that the independent inquiry, called for by Amnesty International, Finnish Refugee Council, and the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, was “a good decision.”

Read the original tweet here.

Even if Migri has processed 45,000 residence permits since 2015, when a record 32,477 asylum seekers mostly from Iraq, it does not let them off the hook and permit civil servants to make faulty decisions that impact people’s lives or their deaths in some cases.

Mykkäen said that “there is no evidence that suggests that Migri rejects asylum applications systematically.

Part of the of criticism of Migri is due to their interpretation that countries like Afghanistan, where the security situation has deteriorated, and Iraq are “safe” to deport asylum seekers. 

Some believe that the large amount of rejections of asylum applications by Migri is politically influenced. Since 2015, the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, which split into two factions in June 2017, was invited to form part of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government. This has fuelled a hostile environment for migrants in Finland. 

Prime Minister Sipilä’s government has tightened immigration laws like family reunification as well as other services  entitled previously to asylum seekers. 

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.

Why exaggerating about the dangers of “Sweden’s immigration problem” is racist

by

You hear a lot from anti-immigration politicians like the Perussuomalaiset* and even the police about how we must contain “Sweden’s immigrant problem” from coming to Finland. If you analyze such a claim and weigh its truth you will rapidly arrive at the following conclusions: It is racist and untrue. 

It is racist because it paints migrants with a single brush. The claim suggests that migrants are the cause of crime, rape, no-go zone lawlessness,  abuse the system, and destroyed our near-perfect society. 

Dead wrong. For starters, Sweden was never a near-perfect society. That is a myth. 

A number of studies also confirm that migrants do not bring more crime. Here is an article on the myth of migrant crime in the United States. The link between immigration and crime only exists in the imagination of some people.

The Conversation writes about crime levels in Europe: “Similarly, a large-scale European study on the effects of immigration on crime concluded that while an increase in immigration generally does not affect crime levels, it does go hand-in-hand with increased public anxiety and anti-immigration stances.”

     The argument by some xenophobic politicians   that there is a link between immigration and crime is simply untrue and exaggerated.

Instead of fueling hatred and polarizing society between “us” and “them,” the fact that politicians and the media believe that there is a link between immigration and crime poses something more worrying about ourselves: racism, ethnonationalism, and denial with a capital “D.”

The fact that politicians and the media continue to support such untrue claims reveals as well their lack of leadership and deep-seated prejudices based on racism, which are alive and well and which have always existed in such countries. 

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.

The Trumpization of Finnish politics

by

Perussuomalaiset (PS)* vice president Laura Huhtasaari, a vocal Islamophobic anti-immigration politician, has been since January under scrutiny due to the plagiarism found in her Master’s thesis. 

If you read the reaction of the Finnish media about the latest ruling by the University of Jyväskylä, one common theme is that the plagiarism scandal will not affect Huhtasaari never mind the PS.

The whole affair is a bit like Donald Trump, who hops from one scandal to the next. Scandals don’t appear to hurt the US president but strengthen his support base.

Is the Huhtasaari plagiarism scandal one good sign of the Trumpization of Finnish politics and how the anti-immigration party has poisoned politics in Finland since its historic election victory of 2011?

Laura Huhtasaari has made a name for herself with her Islamophobic statements and her support for US President Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. She has been called a number of things like the Islamophobe with the kindergarten teacher smile. 

Huhtasaari, who is a teacher, got a damning report from the University of Jyväskylä this week concerning her master’s thesis. According to a statement by the University of Jyväskylä, Huhtasaari’s thesis “had a disregard for good scientific practice and dishonesty in the form of plagiarism, according to Helsinki Times.

The statement states the following about Huhtasaari’s thesis, which was approved in 2003: “For their part, the procedures have misled the scientific community of researchers and the authors of future theses. plagiarism nature and scope, the violations of good scientific practice are serious,” reads a press release from the University of Jyväskylä.

Huhtasaari’s thesis cannot be revoked by the university since there is a five-year statute of limitations. 

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.

Finland’s inhumane and uncaring asylum policy is ever-vigorous. We must change it.

by

Finland’s immigration policy is inhumane If this is the case, what does it say about its integration program? 

A family of five minors and adults including both parents from Afghanistan left Finland most likely on Thursday after they found out this week that their appeal for asylum was rejected by the supreme administrative court. 

The family was devastated by the news and had one overriding worry about their situation in Finland as one family member asked with evident gloom in her voice: “Can they deport us back to Afghanistan?”

One politician that has promoted Finland’s hostile environment for asylum seekers and migrants is National Coalition Party Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko. Politicians like her believe that countries like Afghanistan and Iraq are “safe” to deport asylum seekers. Shame on her for her ice-cold antipathy towards migrants.                            Cartoon by Sira Moksi.  

Accompanying the Afghan family’s dread about their future in Finland was the inhumane and heartless asylum and immigration policy, which was everywhere and so overpowering trying to shatter the hope of a vulnerable and poor family. 

Yes, I blame Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and the rest of the government, especially the Center Party and National Coalition Party in collusion with the Perussuomalaiset* and now Blue Reform party. They have morally corrupted our humanity and sense of fairness as a nation. 

These parties and their leaders are the ones dismantling this country piecemeal of its democracy and Nordic values. It is hypocritical and disingenuous to talk about social justice when our government and country act like an out-of-control Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to the suffering of others.  

I had spoken about a plan of action with the Afghan family and what we could do to help them to avoid deportation. It was too late. The following day I saw them received the following message below:

The last sentence, “we escap(e),” exposes the inhumanity of our asylum policy.

What are we supposed to tell these people? If we told them the truth we would tell them that Sipilä’s government doesn’t want these people to stay in Finland because they are Muslims from Afghanistan. 

There is, however, hope against the Islamophobic bullying so “normal” in Finland today. In April 2019, Finland holds parliamentary elections.

Let’s not forget the names and faces of the ministers, MPs, and parties that brought us to such a morally bankrupt juncture.  Yes, those ones, that constantly tell us lies about migrants and who won’t tell you too loudly that they want to keep Finland white and Christian. 

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.

Does Finland’s integration plan turn migrants into active or submissive members of society?

by

We hear near-constantly from the police in cities like Varissuo and journalists warning us about the dangers of “multiculturalism”  in Sweden and how it may spread and wreak havoc in Finland. This type of reporting is unfortunate because it not only reinforces stereotypes about migrants but their exclusion from society. 

As long as Finland’s official immigration policy, the overriding message of politicians and journalists is to portray migration and cultural diversity as a threat, these types of conclusions and stories we’ll continue to spoon feed our prejudices and leave unchecked our stereotypes.

Portraying migrants and visible minorities as a threat only helps to feed the present hostile environment towards such groups. 

Finland generally sees – especially non-white, non-EU Muslim – migration as a threat. Our integration program and countless Finnish-language courses for such migrants are designed to turn most of them into second-class members of society. It’s not very empowering to know that your job prospects are bleak and that your salary is too low to pay for your cost of living in Helsinki. 

The Saami offer migrants and minorities today a good example of how they suffered centuries of cultural encroachment and how their language and culture were supposed to disappear from the map. 

Adapting to Finland does not mean giving up your culture but to be proud of it. It does not mean dying your hair white or becoming a Bounty candy bar, which is dark from the outside, white from the inside. 

This video shows (in Finnish) what some Saami youths think about being a minority in Finland. 

Watching an interview with Saami youths in the video clip above, there are two statements that caught my attention.

“I don’t consider myself to be a Finn and I know there are Saami who see themselves as Finns,” said the first woman on the left. “But I’m [not a Finn but] a Saami and Finnish citizen.” 

Petra Laiti added: “Saami culture is not defined by Finnish culture and that Finnishness is an umbrella term formed by different [cultural] groups that form part of this blanket definition.”

In an interview with regional police officer Vesa Jauhiainen, who works with migrants and their children in Varissuo, correctly stated that marginalization of youths and ineffective integration are factors that cause problems. 

But here is the million-euro question: What expectations do white Finns have of migrants and minorities concerning their adaption or “integration?” 

While this may seem as an obvious question to some, it reveals many of the problems that migrants face in Finland. Is the object of our integration program to convert migrants into members of society or prepare them to become equal members of society? Does our integration program do anything to prepare and adapt the Finns to a society that is culturally and ethnically diversity? 

Considering the history of minorities like the Sami, Roma as well as other groups in Finland,  the answer to the above questions is clear: Most migrants are not supposed to become equal members of society, especially groups like non-EU Muslims, unless they have been here for many generations. 

We need an earnest discussion in Finland on how to empower our ever-growing culturally diverse communities and, if they wish, to become active members of society.  

Integrating and encouraging migrants and minorities to be submissive members of society is a recipe for failure and for future social problems, which are evident today. 

  

Blue Reform MP Simon Elo: Let’s make discrimination official in Finland

by

Even if the Blue Reform*, which is an offshoot of the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS), wants to change the constitution so that non-Finnish citizens would get paid less social welfare than Finnish citizens, the suggestion by MP Simon Elo exposes to the tee the racism of his party and hatred of migrants. 

Blue Reform, like the PS, are not only a danger to our Nordic welfare state and democracy, but a threat to migrants and minorities living in Finland. 

Why? Because both parties are racist. 

Read the full story (in Finnish) here.

The fact that a party in government wants to officialize discrimination reveals the extent of racism in the government and why this social ill has worsened under Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.

Such discrimination that Elo proposes isn’t possible because it is unconstitutional. Section 6 of the Finnish constitution expressly states: 

“Everyone is equal before the law. 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.”

Finland will hold parliamentary election in April 2019, which explains why Blue Reform is so eager to take out its racism card in order to attract similar-minded voters.

Blue Reform’s support, according to various polls, is dismal, or under 1%.

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.

Neo-Nazis and the Perussuomalaiset: Where do they and we draw the line?

by

A year has elapsed after a Moroccan went on the rampage on August 18 and started attacking people indiscriminately with a knife in the southwestern city of Turku. Two people were killed and 10 were wounded. 

On the anniversary of the stabbing, which is seen by the authorities as Finland’s first modern terrorist attack, three far-right and neo-Nazi groups organized a march to commemorate the anniversary. Another group called Turku Without Nazis (Turku ilman natseja) organized a countermarch to protest the presence of the three far-right groups: Nordic Resistance Movement (Pohjoismainen vastarintaliike, PVL), Soldiers of Odin, and “188” or Nationalist Alliance (Kansallismielisten liittouma).

What went largely unnoticed by most of the Finnish media was the participation of an anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP, Kike Elomaa, and two members of her party. All three took part in the demonstration organized by the far-right and neo-Nazi groups.

Some may rightfully ask why far-right groups have grown in this country and elsewhere. The answer to that question is simple: Far-right- and neo-Nazi-leaning parties like the PS have allowed them in places like parliament. 

PS MP Kike Elomaa and two party members taking part in the far-right and neo-Nazi demonstration in Turku on Saturday. Source: Ilta-Sanomat.

At the heart of the problem is also Finland’s difficulty in seeing and condemning far-right and neo-Nazi groups. 

As US political scientists Steven Levisky and Daniel Ziblatt stated in their analysis of President Trump’s administration, “The erosion of democracy takes place piecemeal, often in baby steps.”

Our blindness to the threat posed by far-right and neo-Nazi groups in Finland is a good example of how the erosion of our democracy is happening before our eyes and in baby steps.  

 

Read the full story here

The silence of the politicians to such threats, especially that of the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, is another problem promoting extremist groups. 

Even if far-right groups like to talk about free speech, their aim could not be further from the truth. Their aim is not more democracy but less of it. 

It is up to us to stand up and draw the line between us and far-right groups and neo-Nazis. If we do not do it, nobody else will do it for us. 

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 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. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

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.