Finnish bigotry has deep roots in ignorance

by , under All categories, Enrique

The fate of two grandmothers, Eveline Fadaylin of Egypt and Russian Irina Antonovan, is a scandalous situation that shows how civil servants and politicians run away from responsiblity and hide behind shoddy laws.

I wish you the best of luck if you want to place your trust on some of these politicians that are handling the case of these two unfortunate grandmothers. Before you make such a decision, take a look at the Roma, who have lived in Finland for ages and are still treated like second- and third-class subcitizens.

Certainly the immigrants are to blame if we allow the authorities and politicians to use us as political fodder to strengthen their narrow-minded views and short-term opportunistic goals. Immigrants and Finns should, however, send a loud and clear message to such politicians that this type of  behavior is unacceptable and shameful.

If, for example, the Social Democrats are to be believed, Finland has today a serious social problem on its hands. Apart from sky-high unemployment, immigrants are also being exploited by being underpaid and discriminated at workplaces.  If the SDP are really interested in this alarming situation, why haven’t done something about it?

Is ignorance the only matter that is behind our difficult relationship with other cultures? Is it embedded in the 1930s and in racist eugenics’ theories that continue to strengthen our mistaken view of ourselves and outsiders? Does the ignorance have its roots in outright suspicion and hatred of other cultures, like with the Roma?

I believe that there are enough sensible Finns in this country that consider the behavior of some politicians and of Finns as shameful and unacceptable.

One of the first and foremost aims when building good ethnic relations is acceptance. If you add to that the element of equal opportunity you will solve many of the problems related to bigotry. In sum we will be building a country that will be successful in this century as well.

  1. Hannu

    “is a scandalous situation that shows how civil servants and politicians run away from responsiblity and hide behind shoddy laws.”

    3 §
    Valtiollisten tehtävien jako ja parlamentarismi

    Lainsäädäntövaltaa käyttää eduskunta, joka päättää myös valtiontaloudesta.

    Hallitusvaltaa käyttävät tasavallan presidentti sekä valtioneuvosto, jonka jäsenten tulee nauttia eduskunnan luottamusta.

    —> Tuomiovaltaa käyttävät riippumattomat tuomioistuimet, ylimpinä tuomioistuimina korkein oikeus ja korkein hallinto-oikeus.

    Of course in your dream, Finnish Democratic Republic, some member of politbyro could tell to courts what to do and ignore laws…

  2. JusticeDemon

    Ricky, please try to stick to the Roman transliteration of Irina Antonova and Eveline Fadayel.

    The point about separation of powers is a valid one, but it’s important to focus on the specific power that we are talking about in these cases.

    My understanding is that these two parents of immigrants living in Finland (it is irrelevant that they are also grandmothers) came to Finland in order to visit their offspring. We can allow the benefit of doubt here and assume that they did not intend to immigrate to Finland at that stage, and that therefore the declared intention to visit was not dishonest. If they did intend to immigrate, then they should have requested residence permits in advance, and not visitor’s visas.

    After arriving in Finland they lodged applications for permission to remain (i.e. for residence permits). These applications were turned down and summary exclusion orders were issued, as is the normal practice when refusing an application for a first residence permit from someone who is already in Finland.

    Considerable discussion has centred on the reason for refusing the residence permits, but there has been less debate over the summary exclusion orders understood as separate administrative decisions. It’s worth stressing that an application for a residence permit is not an application for a summary exclusion order: the latter administrative measure is added on the initiative of the public authority.

    Subsection 1 of section 148 is tellingly worded Ulkomaalainen voidaan käännyttää, jos:… i.e. “An alien may be summarily excluded if…” (my emphasis).

    This is the precise wording of the specific power that we are now discussing, and it is immediately clear that the Executive has no legal duty to exercise this power. This is precisely the formulation used at several points in the Aliens Act to confer discretionary powers on the Executive (search the text of the Act for the 23 occurrence of the phrase voidaan myöntää).

    It is therefore disingenuous for the Executive to claim that Parliament has tied its hands on this matter and forced the Executive to pursue a certain outcome. Parliament has specifically allowed the Executive discretion over the exercise of this particular power. The Finnish Immigration Service would also certainly be within its rights to revoke an exclusion order that it had no specific duty to issue in the first place, nothwithstanding the fact that the order was upheld by the courts.

    FIS has pointed out, quite correctly, that like any administrative authority it must establish and follow a uniform policy. This applies as much to summary exclusion orders as to the conditions under which FIS determines that elderly foreign parents are sufficiently dependent on their offspring in Finland to justify granting them permission to remain in Finland.

    A couple of other things spring to mind over the Fadayel/Antonova situation.

    Firstly there is the idea that the Executive cannot change its policy based on the remarks of politicians. I really wonder how far this is true in modern Finland, because it certainly was not always so. In spring 1990 President Mauno Koivisto famously shared the opinion that Ingrians could be viewed as returnees. This political speech led to an immediate and very substantial change in immigration criteria that has shaped the immigrant landscape in Finland ever since, creating Finland’s modern Russian immigrant community at a stroke, but there was no change in legislation before 1993.

    Secondly, I notice that Irina Antonova and Eveline Fadayel were initially allowed to remain in Finland and the exclusion orders were not enforced, ostensibly because the government intended to change the law in order to favour applications for permission to remain from applicants in their circumstances. Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the speed at which immigration law is amended in this country could see that the prediction of a government bill before the summer recess of Parliament was wildly optimistic. However, the glaring contrast is with the Iriadamant Indian encampment case of 1991-93. Most of the members of this community were citizens of member states of the European Economic Area, which Finland had applied to join in 1991 and eventually did join at the beginning of 1994. This community was expelled from Finland by deportation in summer 1993, nothwithstanding the fact that such expulsion would have become legally impossible only a few months later. Those expulsions occurred even though the legislation was already in Parliament.

    The contrast between these cases puts me in mind of Ahti Tolvanen’s comment on page 32 of Strange Days about how a foreigner could learn a valuable lesson in how laws bend with social custom, but seldom in his direction.

  3. JusticeDemon

    As I recall, Martin-Éric, these policies were largely settled in the political horse trading of the Lipponen I government, and I strongly suspect that the Coalition Party was responsible for the wording of government bill no. 50/98 on this specific point.

    The offending formulation was in section 18c of the 1991 Aliens Act, as amended in 1998. The Interior Minister at the time was Jan-Erik Enestam (Swedish People’s Party) and the governing coalition comprised the SDP together with the two parties already mentioned, the Leftist Alliance and the Greens.

    This was also before the Ministry of the Interior separated the policy and implementation sides of the aliens administration. The presenting official for HE 50/98 in Parliament was Risto Veijalainen.

    The underlying structural problem in the Antonova/Fadayel case derives from the fact that it is impossible to opt out of the Finnish welfare state. This means that the elderly parents of immigrants must always be viewed as a potential burden on the welfare system, even when their offspring in Finland agree to assume full financial liability for these individuals. This would explain why the Coalition Party would be most keen to impose a very high humanitarian threshold for issuing residence permits to such applicants.