The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights
Hiwa Haghi is an Iranian Kurd who has lived in Finland since 2004. In many respects, he’s the ideal migrant: speaks Finnish fluently, is employed, and does youth work for at least nine associations. One of his passions is football.
According to some people, Haghi is a respected member of the community for three reasons: he turned opportunity into success through hard work and perseverance.
As Haghi has placed his trust in his new home country, he hopes and expects that the feeling is mutual.
He got, however, a crude surprise from the Finnish foreign ministry in January when they turned down his sixty-five-year-old father’s and younger brother’s visa application. He applied for the visas the previous month.
“After spending over 3,200 euros in translations, legalizations of documents, trips to [the capital] Teheran [from northwest Iran], lots of energy, stress, time and dealing with red-tape,” he continued, “I was disappointed when the foreign ministry turned down my father’s and brother’s visa application.”
In the ordeal to bring his relatives to Finland, push eventually turned to shove when the Finnish Embassy in Teheran charged his brother 70 euros to cover for postage costs for the letter that officially denied them the visas.
The sum asked by the embassy is considerate, considering that the average salary is in Iran is about 100 euros a month.
“They justified the charge due to Covid-19.” he continued. “This was the reason why they did not allow my brother to retrieve the letter from the embassy and wanted to mail it.”
Haghi has filed a formal complaint and appeal to the foreign ministry for refusing his father and brother the visas.
The Iranian Kurd believes that matters have become more difficult for people from Muslim countries due to 2015, when a record number of asylum seekers came to Finland.
He suspects the reason why the foreign ministry turned down the visa applications was that it didn’t believe that his father and brother would return to Iran after their visit.
In 2010, when Haghi’s father and mother visited Finland, there were no problems in getting visas for them.
A number of questions arose during the visa application. Haghi’s father, who has no formal education and is a farmer, had to give a day-by-day program of his stay in Finland.
“When they asked him [at the embassy] about going to the swimming hall with his grandchildren, they even asked the name of the place,” he said, “naturally, my father did not know the answer.”
One matter that Haghi wanted to make clear to the foreign ministry is that his father and brother have no reason not to return to Iran.
Haghi said that their visit is especially important to his 7.5- and 2-year boy and girl, respectively. When his parents visited Finland in 2010, his children weren’t yet born.
“My children ask me a lot of times when their grandfather and uncle will come to Finland,” he said. “I cannot tell them the truth, so I blame it on the coronavirus pandemic.”
Haghi stated that his grandfather’s and brother’s visit would be important for him as well since they could see how he’s succeeded in Finland.
Like many families, Haghi’s children are multicultural. They speak Finnish as well as Kurdish fluently.