Finland got during 2015 and 2016 38,017 asylum seekers mostly from Iraq (21,698), Afghanistan (5,939) and Somalia (2,408), according to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). Even if these asylum seekers have received the government’s and Migri’s cold shulder, we should thank hem for exposing our deep denial of racism as a society and ineffective immigration-integration policy.
While the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is quick to point out that those 38,000-odd asylum seekers were housed and taken care off when they came here, it’s only part of the truth.
The full story is radically different and kept under wraps: The government squandered hundreds of millions of euros just to fulfill theirs and especially the Perussuomalaiset’s (PS) anti-immigration policy that hinges on racism, prejudice and greed for political power.
We spent hundreds of millions of euros just to keep tens of thousands of asylum seekers in asylum reception centers twiddling their thumbs.
Most of the organizers against the asylum seekers’ demonstration Saturday were members of the Perussuomalaiset party, according to the Kaivuri blog. We can’t say for certain but in the picture above is Ilmajoki city councillor Juha Mäenpää of the PS speaks at the event. Mäenpää said in December 2015 that “god had answered his prayers” when an asylum reception center was razed to the ground. Migrant Tales will post another story later today about the impact of Saturday’s demonstration.
Apart from revealing how unjust the government’s and Migri’s immigration and asylum policy is, asylum seekers in Finland have brought out the best in our society by showing that there are many of us who still believe in Nordic ideals such as social equality and fairness.
It’s clear that the government has lost its humanitarian compass if we look at its track record on immigration policy and its treatment of the most vulnerable sectors of society, like the unemployed and those that live below the poverty line.
Apart from asylum seekers, who must live with the constant axe of deportation hanging over their heads, sensible Finns know which parties and who have ravaged Finland: the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and their government partners, the Center Party and National Coalition Party.
In the 1980s, Migri’s immigration policy was so much out of touch with public opinion that they were forced to make big changes. like passing the country’s first Aliens’ Act in 1983, or after 66 years after independence. Before that year, foreigners could be deported from the country at will and didn’t have basic human rights like habeas corpus.
There was no respect either for refugees because Finland did not respect the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Soviet citizens were returned against their will to the USSR.
If there was one area where Finlandization, or Helsinki’s special relationship with Moscow could be measured, it was in the area of immigration and asylum policy. Ever wonder why politicians and Migri take such a tough stand today against asylum seekers? It’s their track record. It’s blowback from the Cold War and our special relationship with the former Soviet Union.
Living in denial, like Finland does about its racism and treatment of asylum seekers, is hurting the country. We need migrants but we can’t say it too out loud because we’ve placed ourselves in a corner where we continue to see outsiders and migrants as a threat.
Let’s hope that the asylum seekers that came to Finland will begin to change matters for the better and help us sweep away those gloomy and stuffy closets that house our xenophobia and suspicion.
* 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.”