Over a hundred people have joined a peaceful demonstration that began a week ago on Friday and which shows no sign of letting up was moved from near the Little Parliament to the Helsinki Railway Square.
Despite a far-right group called Suomi Ensin (Finland First), which has tried to insult and ruin the demonstration with their presence, everything has been going well, according to Tiia Nohynek, who is taking part in the demonstration and said that there were about 100 people in the early evening.
“The atmosphere is really warm and Finns that pass by have shown their support by offering blankets and battery chargers,” she said. “The [far right] Suomi Ensi people are pretty faraway [about 500 meters] from us now. They have tried to disrupt our demonstration today but the police has stopped them.”
Finland has organized some massive anti-racism demonstrations recently like in July 2015 and in September 2016, where about 15,000 demonstrators took part in Helsinki alone. Despite these demonstrations, they appear to have had little impact on Finland and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government immigration policy.
Is a new method of demonstrating like the one at the center of Helsinki indefinitely a more effective way of getting one’s message across?
Miro del Gaudio, an Italian-Finnish lawyer, said that it was still too early to tell but that the police service has informed the demonstrators that a representative of the Finnish Immigration Service will visit them next week.
Del Gudio added that deporting people from Finland to countries like Iraq is problematic.
“I’ve heard that some of these that don’t want to return to Iraq could be seen by their countrymen as ‘traitors’ and therefore could be put in additional harm’s way,” he said.
Nohynek couldn’t say for how long the asylum seekers and Finns planned to demonstrate.
Taking to account the dire situation of some asylum seekers and deportation orders hanging over their heads, demonstrating indefinitely may be the only option on the table, according to some.