Day 25 of the Helsinki demonstration by asylum seekers: We are happy that you are a thorn in the government’s and Migri’s side

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Twenty-five cold days have elapsed since a group of asylum seekers decided to exercise their democratic rights and protest deportation and the government’s strict asylum policy.  The longer these demonstrators protest the deeper the thorn will penetrate the government’s and Finnish Immigration Service’s (Migri) side. 

The government’s and Migri’s tough stance against the demonstrators is and will turn against them. Why? Because they base their hardline strategy on their own prejudices and bigotry.

The asylum seekers must know that two mainstream parties, the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP), have given a near-free hand to the Islamophobic and anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party to draft laws like that tightening of family reunification. They have also turned some of you  into undocumented migrants.

When I look at the actions of the government, my memory goes back to the early 1980s when Migri was run by Eila Kännö, a woman that some compared her management style to Benito Mussolini’s. The extremely strict immigration policy of Finland at the time was so much out of touch with public opinion that the then Aliens’ Office destroyed its credibility and eventually itself.

It became clear that the Aliens’ Office could no longer be run by a self-styled autocrat.

While in a different time context, the same is happening today. The government’s hardline and Migri’s inhumane and ineffective work have started to turn against them. People are correctly asking if there is any logic to their policy.

The demonstration at the Helsinki Railway Square, which I had the honor to visit on February 25, was a wonderful experience and an example to Finns, migrants and minorities in this country. No matter how desperate the situation, we never give up.

Another important lesson that the demonstrators have shown is that you don’t need large demonstrations to make a point, even if these are important as well.

All you need a handful of dedicated people who are ready to demonstrate and remain put come hell or high water.

Asylum seekers aren’t criminals! Only those that label them as such are the real culprits like those politicians who are ready to throw people to the dogs in order to improve their poll standings. The PS is one such party as their supporters in government, the Center party and NCP. Photo by Enrique Tessieri.

* 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.”