Asylum seekers start indefinite demonstration in front of the Finnish Immigration Service

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A group of present and former asylum seekers decided to hold an indefinite demonstration in front of Helsinki’s Finnish Immigration Service’s (Migri) on Thursday for better rights and security in Finland.

Walid Sahib, one of the persons taking part in the demonstration, said that the most important matter is to raise awareness for the plight of undocumented migrants and others in limbo waiting for decisions on their asylum applications.

“There are many [thousands] people with no permission in Finland and [others] waiting for four years for their residence permits,” said Sahib. “It is a very difficult situation.”

Demonstrators outside the Finnish Immigration Service offices in Helsinki. Photo: By demonstrators.
Sahib said that there is no time limit to the demonstration. The last demonstration held by Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers at the Helsinki Railway Square lasted for 140 days. Another shorter hunger-strike demonstration was held in Helsinki in 2017. Photo: By demonstrators.

In 2016, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä tightened Finland’s immigration law and did away with residence permits on humanitarian grounds. This change in the law forced the number of undocumented migrants to rise from a few hundred to a few thousand.

Then Social Democrat MP Nasima Razmyar, who is today Helsinki deputy mayor for culture and leisure, voted in 2016 to end residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

Razmyar is herself a former asylum seeker from Afghanistan.

Other migrant rights were eroded by Sipilä’s government as Amnesty International points out below.

Read the full Amnesty International Report 2017/18 here.

I would like to extend my support for these brave migrants for demonstrating for their rights. In today’s hostile environment of Finland, it is an effective way of raising your voice and invite public concern to your cause.