Parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and some of its MPs like Mauri “Perkele” Peltokangas, Riikka “You Will Not Replace Us” Purra, and Juho “Mussolini” Eerola are signs of an old Finland that is disappearing in the dustbin of history.
These politicians and their racist party represent the worst of this country and its society. But what can you expect if Finland has been in denial about its racism and done its best to whitewash its history?
Life must be easy for these types of opportunistic politicians. Just spread fake news about migrants and you’ll get elected. Your followers will even encourage you to ratchet up your racist discourse,
For us Finns?!
Sorry Peltokangas, Purra and Eerola, this country never was and will never be white. Too many Finns, over 1.2 million to be exact, emigrated to other parts of the world. They mixed and continue to be proud of their Finnish roots.
And let’s not forget our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse Finland growing before you.
We are proud of our difference and happy to know that these politicians are a dying breed.
An article in The Guardian on an asylum seeker who asks, “‘Why can’t I be legal anywhere?’ Exploited and left stateless by Sweden.” His story is not an anomaly but reveals what is happening to stateless persons, even in countries like Finland.
Helsingin Sanomat and Migrant Talespublished a story about the column. The author, Paavo Teittinen, hits the issue right on the nail:
“The source of human trafficking and similar type of exploitation in Finland is not inevitable. It has been allowed to happen. Criminals can run their [businesses] fairly freely due to the lack of information, resources, and [police] interest.”
In The Guardian article, the stateless person Rahman* tells about the exploitation and hopelessness of his case:
“It was a time when no matter what Rahman suffered, the legal right to remain in Europe eluded him. His lack of status enabled appalling crimes to be committed against him, and it left the criminals unpunished. He has been exploited and deported but his dream of Europe endures. He has found his way back to the continent but the future is uncertain.”
Here is the question: If the Finnish authorities turn a near-blind eye to human trafficking, it suggests that the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), police service, and other state-run regulatory bodies give their tacit approval to this type of exploitation. What role does institutional racism have in the issue?
Who has heard or read in Finland that the present immigration policy and toxic debate surrounding asylum seekers and migrants are the sources of the exploitation in the labor market?
The reason why we are not hearing anything, or hardly anything, is because racism and complicity encourage us into inaction.
*Rahman is an assumed name to protect his identity.
Migrant Tales asked in April after the tragic death of an eighteen-year-old Somali Finn in Helsinki on April 26 is treated by the police as a hate crime.
What is equally surprising is the total news blackout on social media by the police as if communities affected by what happened don’t have the right to express their mourning and outrage.
Even if there is some indication that the motive of the fatal stabbing may have had a bias motivators like ethnicity, the Finnish media is more interested in reporting about the suspect’s criminal background instead of how ethnicity may have played a role.
One Somali Finn that I contacted after the fatal stabbing stated:
“The death first made me angry, but then I told myself that this was going to happen since I live in such a racist country.
The roots of this tragedy go back to when the mayor of Helsinki [Jan Vapaavuori] labeled the Somalis [on April 14] as those spreading coronavirus. What he did was label us as part of the coronavirus problem of Finland. Anybody could see what was going to happen next. People get scared, and the racists get more aggressive and start targeting you.”
A hate crime comprises of two factors: the crime + bias motivation. Thus a hate crime is determined by bias, which includes: victim perception, organized hate groups, crime pattern, intense violence and specific targetting, timing, the difference between the victim and perpetrator, and by no other obvious motive.
The latter category, no obvious motive, is also relevant because it suggests that the crime was motivated by bias.
Indeed, people who commit a hate crime will do their best to play down or claim amnesia when it comes to determining their bias motivation.
One of the most critical questions about the death of the young Keyse Abdifatah Macalesh is why the police service mustn’t play down or overlook hate crime.
One of the most obvious reasons is so that they will not encourage the spread of similar crimes from happening.
My question to the police: Are there any bias motivators taken into account in Macalesh’s case?
Farid* is a young Syrian who has lived in Finland for the past six years. He claims to have no friends in this country and suffers from depression and spent some time in a psychiatric ward. Farid is also gay.
When listening to Farid’s story, it becomes clear that he is a person without a societal seeing eye dog to guide him through the culture and bureaucracy of his new homeland.
Farid, who suffers from depression, blames his problems in Finland on racism.
“I have never been treated as badly in Syria and Lebanon, where I lived a few years,” he said. “Finland has crushed by life.”
Farid spoke about what happened a year and a half ago to him at the Helsinki Kalasatama health station.
“I was feeling terrible and wanted to get checked by a doctor,” he said. “The nurse turned me away and told me to leave because she did not believe I was sick. I had a fever of 38.8°C.”
Farid tried again.
“I retook another number, but it did not help and they showed me the door,” he continued. “Since I refused to leave, the nurse called the security guards who escorted me outside. I called the police.”
To make a long story short, they locked up Farid in a police van and drove him to the police station.
“I got a panic attack inside the van and started to kick the windows,” he said. “I yelled and asked at the top of my voice, where they are taking me?! Why am I inside the police van?! I got no answers.”
The police then proceeded to administrate pepper spray, which made matters worse.
“I am allergic and was worried that my body would react to the spray,” he said.
At the police station, matters got worse. When he demanded his rights, and to talk to someone like a lawyer, the woman police officer in charge told him that “he could not complain because he is a foreigner.”
Farid filed a complaint a week ago to the prosecutor general after trying, unsuccessfully, to complain to the National Police Board of Finland.
Another problem with Farid’s case is that it happened a while back and moved slowly, yielding no results.
After the incident with the police, Farid contacted Seta, LGBTI NGO, but they could not help him in offering legal help.
He admits that the incident at the health station forced him to take different types of pills to lower his stress level and help him sleep.
A column by Helsingin Sanomat gave a realistic view of human trafficking and why there it continues unhinged. One problem that the column cites, and which is a problem concerning other racist crimes committed against migrants and minorities, is fear of the police.
The column, which exposed some of the shortcomings of protecting victims of human trafficking and exploitation at work, sheds light on a more significant problem: Indifference fed by prejudice and racism.
The Finnish police have a questionable history when dealing with racism. Migrant Taleswrote some of these issues in 2018 that persist to this date:
A poll showed that close to 80% of the police in a survey considered the asylum seeker crisis as the most severe threat to Finnish security;
The same poll revealed that 25.1% of those polled voted for the National Coalition Party (NCP) and 24.4% for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*. The PS and NCP parties are the most anti-immigration parties in parliament;
Ethnic profiling continues to be a serious issue among the Finnish police service;
The Council of Europe has expressed concern about ethnic profiling in Finland;
A study by the European Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) claims that a third of people of African descent (PAD) surveyed have experienced racial harassment in the last five years. The highest harassment took place in Finland.
Paavo Teittinen’s column hits it right on the nail: “The source of human trafficking and similar type of exploitation in Finland is not inevitable. It has been allowed to happen. Criminals can run their [businesses] fairly freely due to the lack of information, resources, and [police] interest.”
Some of the main points of Teittinen’s column:
Employers are not worried about being reported to the police because of lack of interest;
An employer can commit human trafficking with few to no consequences;
Few human trafficking victims turn to the police because they fear deportation. They continue to fear the police like in their former home country;
The police and authorities don’t actively seek to curtail human trafficking;
The powers granted to the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI) is negligibly coupled with a shortage of staff;
Interior ministry has shown little interest in the problem;
Few police resources allocated to fighting human trafficking;
Some police play down the problem because they are suspicion of asylum seekers and their motives;
The police justify their inaction by stating that even if a person was underpaid, it is more money than he ever made in his home country;
Victim Support (Riku) said in a statement that laws to protect human trafficking victims are inadequate in Finland. The victim usually ends up holding the short end of the stick.
So what does the inadequate tratement of human trafficking expose?
It tells us that the police are not only ill-equipped to serve Finland’s ever-growing culturally diverse community, but many continue to allow prejudice, racist attitudes, and structural racism to continue.
White Finnish privilege is powerful since you can use the police to project the need for defense and protection. In the United States, we saw two viral examples (see below) involving Amy Cooper and Lisa Alexander.
For those who don’t remember, Cooper is the “Central Park Karen” for false reporting to the police. She falsely stated on video that she was in danger of being attacked by a black man after he told her to put her dog on a leash.
The second case involving Alexander, or “San Francisco Karen,” happened when she and her husband approached a black man who was writing on his front lawn, “black lives matter.” The couple did not know that it was the black man’s property.
These two cases not only reveal white privilege but hinge on myths dating to the era of USAmerican slavery when they viewed black slaves as sexual threats to white women.
In Turku, we got a sour taste of the latest example of false reporting. The police report in a tweet that a robbery took place in Turku. According to the “victim,” the man had “a field jacket, dark pants, dark hair, was of Middle East origin.”
The police tweet later on: “The incident is over. Everything is fine. The person [who made the false report] is resolving the matter with the police since he/she admitted that he/she had made the whole thing up.
Patrol resources could have been better used elsewhere.”
FINNISH WHITE PRIVILEGE #72
Like in the two recent cases in the United States, will we see the perpetrator of the false report in Finland apologize? How much damage does such a false report, tweeted by the police, impact people of color?
It is surprising that the Finnish police use outdated ethnic profiling identification. Today, a Finn can be of any color and ethnicity. Moreover, the ethnic makeup of the Middle East is diverse.
Grouping people by nationality is racist. The incident also exposes the police in an unprofessional and racist light.
How many more cases of false reporting are there, and what do they reveal about white Finnish privilege and its open hostility to people who are not white?
While in a different historical context, the false reporting in the US and Finland have the same goals: reinforce and embolden racism. Add to this prejudice and racism of the police, and you have a potent weapon against minorities and migrants.
Finland has been praised for its school program to teach children about fake news. Media literacy is important if we do not want to be led by the noses towards an autocratic state.
Commonly, when reading the comments by Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MPs and other politicians, fact-checking is an exception and not the rule.
Some of the most significant sources of fake news that the PS spread is about migrants and asylum seekers, which is code for Muslims. The cost of migration, living off social welfare, crime, not interested in integration, and so forth.
The basis of the above claims is fake news, and the media should do much more to check their integrity.
If we look at US President Donald Trump’s makeup and that used by Perussuomalaiset* MEP Laura Huhtasaari, we can conclude that their personas are different shades of white supremacy.
We all know about Trump’s white supremacist views and we know about Huhtasaari’s feelings on the matter. Her posts and hashtags (#proudtobeFinn and others) speak for themselves.
Even if both politicians are from different countries, they built their political careers on racism and white supremacy. Trump reached infamy by his birther claims that Barack Obama was not born in the US, while Huhtasaari went on the rampage against Muslims and the EU.
If we look at white supremacy in Finland, it does, as in the case of Huhtasaari, involve white-silver dyed hair, white clothing, lots of white makeup as well as white supremacist soundbites.
A guide to becoming a white supremacist politician:
Dye your hair blonde
Use a lot of whitening makeup
Spread racism by scapegoating vulnerable people like asylum seekers