Finland’s politics of discrimination and exclusion are seen in your thin pension

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Decades of labor discrimination in Finland adds up to one terrible reality for some migrants: a thin pension and poverty. If in this decade the pay gap between migrants and white Finns was 25% (36,800 euros versus 27,500 euros made by migrants), it’s clear that their pension will not add up to much. 

Poor salaries, fragmented employment histories also means lower social welfare benefits like unemployment, which are 39% lower for migrants (15,000 euros versus 9,400 euros) and up to 59% for those who are outside the labor force (7,500 euros versus 3,100 euros), according to Pekka Myrskylä, a former Statistics Finland researcher.

An article about migrant pensioners in Finland published by YLE News tells us something we’ve always known:

“The vulnerability of many of the older migrants we spoke to shone through clearly. They expressed concern about access to services, language problems, isolation and marginalisation—and financial difficulties.”


 

Before Finland would require migrants to apply for a separate work permit for each employer. Since migrants rarely got permanent jobs, they had to freelance, which meant periods without work. All of this naturally means a meager pension that will send you to the poor farm.

Here’s one anecdote published in the same article:

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Migrants suffer from the Ulysses syndrome, societies from the Cyclopse syndrome

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I wrote a story in Migrant Tales nine years ago about the Ulysses syndrome, an illness that affects migrants, which speaks volumes about the lives of asylum seekers in Finland and how officials and the government contribute to their misery. If the Ulysses syndrome explains the suffering of migrants what would we call a society that is indifferent to their suffering?

Psychiatrist Joseba Achotegui of the Universitat de Barcelona describes the illness in the following words: “It comprises loneliness, as family and friends were left behind; a sense of personal failure, and a survival struggle that takes over all other priorities. The syndrome is characterized by physical symptoms like headaches, and psychological symptoms like depression.”

Here’s an example of what an undocumented migrant, of which we have many in Finland these days, suffers:

Norma lived in terror and in hiding. This 45-year-old single mother left her 11-year-old son in 1999 when she migrated to Madrid. When she moved to Spain, she didn’t know anyone never mind have a place to sleep. She was an illegal alien.

The woman was afraid that the police would find and deport her. “It was that way nine years ago,” she admits. I would never go out for a stroll. I’d forget to board a metro at stops because I was in another world thinking of my child.

While the Ulysses syndrome abounds, what could we call a society that is incapable, or anesthetized by politicians’ indifference and hate speech, to their suffering?

Would the proper name be the Cyclopse syndrome?

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The real victims of Glev Simanov’s videotapes are the minors he filmed and published without permission on social media

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Remember the bus driver that videotaped only Somalis and accused them without any proof of bumming a ride? Remember when he published without permission his racist treatment of them on social media? Gleb Simanov got fired the same week but in August Onnibus, a bus company, hired him.  

The whole incident got a lot of interest on social media. Even so, nothing was written about the pain and suffering of the victims. Two of them are cousins aged 13 and 15.

A woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity and who helped the teenagers “because their parents don’t speak Finnish well enough,” said that the two girls were deeply disturbed when they found out that a video of them was in MV-lehti, an online racist publication.

“They were anxious about what would happen to them at school and if they’d be [labeled and] bullied [by their classmates],” she said. “They couldn’t sleep and still have not recovered fully from what happened.”

The woman said that she got in touch with the bus company where Simanov used to work, and they apologized for what happened.

 


Gleb Simanonv got sacked by Nobina for videotaping and insulting minors. The videotapes appeared on social media and trash publications like MV-lehti.

“A week later we went to the police to press charges for publishing without permission a video of a minor,” she said. “The police treated us very well.”

Simanov blocked the woman from his Facebook page after she asked him why he had published the videos of the two teenagers.

“The girls have learned not to trust some adults,” she concluded. “They got to see what racism is like in Finland.”


 

Oi nouse, Suomi, näytit maailmalle

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Suomi itsenäisyyden juhlavuonna 2017. Sen piti olla upea, yhteinen vuosi. Jotkut ovat kuitenkin sitä mieltä, että juhlat eivät parane, ellei väki vähene.

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Ihmisellä on oikeus olla ihminen

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Vielä tänään minulla on oikeus:

olla kaveri sen kanssa, kenen kanssa haluan olla

olla ystävällinen myös tuntemattomalle ihmiselle

kutsua ihminen kotiin, syöttää ja juottaa ja vaikka antaa jäädä yöksi, nukkua puhtailla lakanoilla, minkä värisillä hyvänsä

olla ilmoittamatta poliisille, jos joku syö, juo, laulaa tai nukkuu luonani
IMG_7198 ottaa luokseni ihminen yöpymään esimerkiksi internetin Flee b&b -järjestelmän kautta

päästää lapseni kaveri yökylään. Jopa, jos kaveri sattuisi olemaan kiharatukkainen

puuttua vääryyteen ja epäoikeudenmukaisuuteen

puolustaa ystävääni hädässä niillä keinoin, jotka ovat lain rajoissa eivätkä vahingoita muita ihmisiä.

Nämä oikeuteni kieltävä laki on suunnitteilla, mutta ajattelen, että nyt vielä on mahdollisuus estää tuonkaltaiset toimet.

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Kuvat: Alexander Popkov Photography

Finland’s government to tighten again immigration and asylum policy

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The desperation of New Alternative* or Blue Reform (BR) party, the faction that split from the Perussuomalaiset (PS) in June to keep their jobs as ministers, must be overbearing. BR Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sports Sampo Terho announced Thursday that the government plans to tighten immigration and asylum policy laws in the face of the Turku attack, according to YLE News

Interior Minister Paula Risikko, as well as other government officials, announced after Turku plans to tighten immigration policy and give greater surveillance powers to the police and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO).

Just like the good old days when the PS was one party before it imploded on June 13, BR’s Minister Terho is the one giving statements about tougher immigration policy.

Apart from making it a crime to help undocumented migrants, Terho said that the nationality would see modifications so that suspected terrorists who are dual nationals can have their Finnish citizenship revoked.

While these points are nothing new since they have the clear stamp of PS Chairman Jussi Halla-aho, it is sad to watch how short-sighted and opportunistic the government is and how it wants to punish the migrant and minority community. No matter how much they tighten immigration and asylum policy, it will never make Finland safe from terrorism.

Nour Gamal, a #righttolife activist, told Migrant Tales by phone that government aims to tighten immigration and asylum policy is part of a long-range plan to make life as miserable as possible for asylum seekers in Finland.


Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sports Sampo Terho is as much an Islamophobe as Jussi Halla-aho.

“They [the government] are not only making life difficult for asylum seekers but for Finns that want to help undocumented migrants as well,” he said. “It’s a systematic plan to make the lives of asylum seekers as miserable as possible, so they’ll leave the country and so that no new refugees will come here.”

Gamal said that the parliamentary elections in 2019 are the only hope left to asylum seekers.

While not mentioned, plans to change the nationality act may also have dire consequences for dual citizen rights in Finland.

As long as BR remains in government the worse matters will get for migrants and minorities in this country.

* After 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.

Kilteillä tädeillä ja turvapaikanhakijoilla on oikeus turvaan

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Ehdotan, että tiedusteluoikeuksien nopeutettu lisääminen ja terroristien jahtaaminen jätetään hetkeksi vähemmälle huomiolle ja valtakunnan johto ja poliisi keskittyvät kotimaisessa turvallisuudessa ilmenneisiin puutteisiin:

1. Poliisi hoitaa huolellisesti loppuun saakka etenkin naisiin ja tyttöihin kohdistuvaa internet- ja sähköpostihäirintää ja uhkailua koskevat ilmoitukset. Tämä tarkoittaa myös sitä, että kun nainen tekee uhkailusta rikosilmoituksen, poliisi ei ilmoita, että rikoksen tutkimista ei jatketa, koska siitä määrättävä rangaistus olisi niin vähäinen.

2. Poliisi ei kehota ulkomaalaisen näköisiä ihmisiä olemaan osallistumatta julkisiin tilaisuuksiin ”oman turvallisuutensa takia”. Suomessa on jokaisella asukkaalla oltava oikeus liikkua vapaasti ja kaiken näköisillä on oltava koskemattomuus esim. kirkon järjestämissä muistotilaisuuksissa. Myös ulkomaalaisen näköisten ihmisten kantasuomalaisilla ystävillä on oltava oikeus näyttäytyä turvallisesti ja pelkäämättä heidän seurassaan jokaisessa tilaisuudessa. Turvapaikanhakijoilla on myös oltava oikeus näyttää tunteitaa ja osallistua yhteiseen suruun ja iloon. Rasistisen uhkailun ei pidä vaikuttaa siten, että muiden asukkaiden oikeuksia rajoitetaan.

muistotilaisuus-kauppatorilla-olli-sulin-02-550x500.jpg Muistotilaisuus Turussa elokuussa 2018 (kuva: Turu kaupunki/Olli Sulin)

3. Poliisin pitää uskaltaa ottaa vastuu rasistien valvonnasta pakottamatta naisia ja tyttöjä apuun. Esimerkiksi Rautatientorilla pitkään jatkuneen turvapaikanhakijoiden mielenosoituksen aikana turvapaikanhakijat ja heidän suomalaiset avustajansa velvoitettiin – häpeällistä kyllä – menemään rasistien pitämään leiriin ”neuvottelemaan” mielenosoituksen jatkosta, sijainnista jne. Kaiken lisäksi rasistien sallittiin tuollaisissa ”tapaamisissa” videoida turvapaikanhakijoita ja heidän avustajiaan ja levittää videoita nettiin. Jos poliisin pitää neuvotella äärioikeistolaisten rasistien kanssa, poliisi hoitakoon neuvottelut itse.

Muistotilaisuus Tukholma Outi Popp 1 Muistotilaisuus Helsingin Rautatientorilla huhtikuussa 2018 (kuva: Outi Popp)

4. Poliisin tulee lakata korostamasta sitä, että he turvaavat tasapuolisesti kaikki mielenosoitukset. Poliisilla on lain mukaan kaikki oikeudet lopettaa rasistiset, kansanryhmää vastaan kiihottavat ja väkivaltaiset tilaisuudet. Nyt tilanne on se, että poliisi edesauttaa rasistisen aatteen levittämistä ja yhteiskuntarauhan häirintää. Rasisteille ei pidä myöskään antaa sellaista käsitystä, että heidän vihanpitonsa on oikeutettua. Maahanmuuttoa voi vastustaa, mutta kenenkään maahanmuuton vastustaminen ei saa vahingoittaa muiden vapautta ja turvallisuutta ja pilata yleistä ilmapiiriä maassamme.

5. Sisäministeri lopettaa kunniallisten kansalaisten uhkailun rankaisemisesta siitä, että he auttavat hädänalaisia. Yhteiskuntarauhan säilyminen edes nykytilassa on pitkälti ollut siitä kiinni, että kiltit, rauhaa ja ihmisiä rakastavat naiset ja miehet ovat jaksaneet pitää huolta turvapaikanhakijoiden ja muiden pakolaisten asioista ja avustaa heitä silloin, kun yhteiskunta on jättänyt heidät heitteille. Vapaaehtoiset, samoin kuin vastaanottokeskusten uuttera väki, ansaitsevat valtiovallalta kiitosta ja tunnustusta. Mitä he nyt saavat? Kyräilyä, mustamaalausta ja vihaa.

IMG_0032.JPG Turvapaikanhakijoilla ja heidän avustajillaan on oikeus osoittaa mieltä neuvottelematta siitä rasistien kanssa!

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Finland’s Draconian immigration policy today has its roots in the Cold War era

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Sound policies aim at producing good results. Bad policies made with malicious intent only bring suffering and disaster.

The quote sits well with Finland’s Draconian immigration and asylum policy. The number of undocumented migrants has soared from an estimated 300. Those who are lucky enough to get a residence permit can say goodbye to ever bringing their loved ones to this country because family reunification requirements were tightened.  In sum, the Finnish government and the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) have done everything possible to make their lives as miserable as possible and expel them from here.

You don’t have to be an expert on immigration policy to understand how we have arrived at this shameful juncture. Even if the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* – today Blue Reform, or the “new” Perussuomalaiset – was primarily responsible for the tightening of immigration policy, such policies were backed by its two partners in government, the Center Party, and National Coalition Party.


In Argentina, the Finns founded a colony in 1906. Even if life was hard, they weren’t threatened with deportation as many asylum seekers are today in Finland. That goes for the majority of the over 1.2 million Finns who emigrated from this country. It is sad that Finns don’t learn at school about this fact, which was efficiently whitewashed and confined to a few festivities. The Malinen family is posing in front of their farm in Argentina in the 1920s. Photo: Lahja Malinen.

Even if the government has tightened immigration policy, opposition parties like the Social Democrats haven’t distanced themselves from such policies but supported them with their near-silence.

In the spring of 2016, the Social Democrats voted in their majority to do away with granting residence permits on humanitarian grounds. One of the Social Democratic MPs to vote in favor of this measure was Nasima Razmyar, a former refugee. This law (2/2016) is responsible for the high number of undocumented migrants.

The only parties that voted against the law were the Left Alliance, Greens and Swedish People’s Party.

Why so much animosity towards asylum seekers? I believe it has to do with Finnish history and education that teaches from a very young age nationalistic myths and be suspicious of foreigners and people who are different from the white Finnish-speaking majority.

While it may surprise many, the Cold War era for Finland (1944-91) reinforced official suspicion of outsiders. There was a time in our short history as an independent nation when foreigners were deported without any right to appeal, were prohibited from buying land, establish businesses in key sectors of the economy, organize demonstrations, among other human rights violations.

Even if in a different context, the total disregard for asylum seekers’ safety we see today was a part of Finnish policy in the Cold War, when Soviet asylum seekers were returned against their will to face harsh punishment in the USSR.

Is it here where Finland wants to return?

If so, we’re going to put up a hell of a fight!


* After 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.