Ilta-Sanomat: Kotkan leipäjonossa tuli mitta täyteen: Ei enää ruokakasseja ulkomaalaisille

by , under All categories, Enrique

CommentThis story in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is a good example of how discrimination has even hit the bread lines in Kotka. According to Kotkan Keräys, foreigners will no longer be served by the charity association.

One of the members of  the association said that a sign was posted on Thursday giving notice that only those foreigners with Finnish passports would be served. “This isn’t racist,” said Ranja Laakso, “but the amount of Russians has grown greatly in our queues and our own group (Finns) suffer (as a result).”

Taking into account that poverty is indiscriminate and that unemployment is higher among immigrants  when compared with the national average,  why wouldn’t they be eligible for charity?

Figuring out who really needs charity is not always easy. However, one matter is for certain: our constitution clearly states that we cannot discriminate due to nationality or ethnicity.


Emma Grünn

– Oma kansa ensin, kerrotaan Kotkan Keräys- ja avustuskeskuksesta IS:lle.  Kotkassa ei suostuta antamaan ruoka-apua ulkomaalaisille. Päätöstä perustellaan muun muassa venäläisten suurella määrällä.  Ohikulkija hämmästyi kävellessään leipäjonon ohi Kotkan Hovinsaarella torstaina.

Read whole story.

  1. Allan

    So Finland is the Social Office of the World? Tourist buses just stop at the bread queue and get provided with a free lunch?

  2. mika

    The report stated that theses Russians turn up in luxury cars and with kotka being so close to the border with Russia I think that there is a good chance that theses people are not living in Finland but are visiting as tourists . So refusing them is not discrimination but its stopping people who are more financially better than others being selfish .

    If you knew this (And I think you did) but still wanted to twist the story to look like Finns discriminating against foreigners, it is very irresponsible for you to do that. Because to blame Finns for a situation which does not exist on the question of immigration will create a lot of resentment towards others. You may not think it but you are more responsible for creating tension between ethic and national groups than the people and groups you claim to be.

  3. William O'Gorman

    This is quite interesting when you think about it. If (as claimed in the report) there are Russians (how do they know this?) who come and take ALL the bread then maybe one could argue that it is not fair. BUT does that mean that then I cannot get the food if I needed it? I am not Russian but I am not a Finnish citizen either but when I am hungry I guess I need food!

    To stop all foreigners from getting the food is truly terrible and quite a statement to make. I am sure these people giving the charity mean well and I am sure they are truly good people but this is a mistake by them to cut off all foreigners from this bread line. Mind you this is also ‘reported’ in the Ilta-Sanomat so pinches of salt all round.

    And Allan what are you up to? What a mundane comment. Try to look at the issue from more then one angle and then maybe discuss it?Nobody is claiming Finland is the social office of the world but are you telling me you can honestly not see the problem with this?How this makes Finland look?

    Quote Enrique: Figuring out who really needs charity is not always easy. However, one matter is for certain: our constitution clearly states that we cannot discriminate due to nationality or ethnicity.

  4. JusticeDemon

    There are at least three aspects to this case that deserve attention:

    The first aspect is the general character of charitable operations, which are supposed to be based solely on need. The contrast with public health care provision is quite clear. If a person turned away from this breadline is subsequently hospitalised due to malnutrition, then the public health service will provide all necessary treatment (i.e. food and shelter) solely on the basis of need.

    The second aspect is practical. How many people bring a passport to a breadline? How many breadline clients even have a passport?

    The third aspect is the legal position.

    Simplifying section 11 of chapter 11 of the Finnish Penal Code:

    Joka … yleisönpalvelussa … tai muussa julkisessa tehtävässä … ilman hyväksyttävää syytä

    1) ei palvele jotakuta yleisesti noudatettavilla ehdoilla,

    3) asettaa jonkun ilmeisen eriarvoiseen tai muita olennaisesti huonompaan asemaan

    rodun, kansallisen tai etnisen alkuperän, ihonvärin, kielen … tai muun näihin rinnastettavan seikan perusteella, on tuomittava … syrjinnästä sakkoon tai vankeuteen enintään kuudeksi kuukaudeksi.

    It is not lawful to turn someone away from a shop or other service on the grounds of citizenship. This is firmly established in case law. It is likewise not legally relevant that the service is provided free of charge. The Museum of Cultures in Helsinki does not charge an admission fee, but it would be a criminal offence to exclude any visitor on grounds of nationality. A large proportion of the visitors are tourists. Neither is it legally relevant that the service is provided by volunteers. Clubs and societies both incorporated and otherwise are not free to discriminate between the recipients of their public services.

  5. Martin-Éric

    I could remotely – and I emphasize remotely – understand a case of giving preference to those with rights of abode, be they Fins or foreigners legally living here, but to suddenly deny “the mass of Russian with their cars” is rather silly. Besides, the average Finn also owns a car in Eastern Finland too.

  6. JusticeDemon


    The IS report suggests that there is some confusion between need and nationality as grounds for eligibility. There is no question that applicants can be turned away on the grounds that they do not need the service. It’s not discrimination (in the relevant sense) to deny food aid to someone who has just parked a new Mercedes round the corner.

    The following is nevertheless disturbing

    Keskukselle kelpaa vain passi, ei kelakortti.
    – Se ei ole pätevä syy. Se ei ole vielä suomalaisuuden merkki. Ne saavat etuuksia mutta ei vielä Suomen kansalaisuuksia ole saanut.

    This makes it explicitly clear that nationality has become a criterion of eligibility. A social insurance card is prima facie evidence that the holder is insured under the residence-based social security scheme. Such cards are not issued to tourists or even to asylum seekers.

    If any of our gentle immigrant readers live in Kotka and have fallen on hard times, then I would recommend joining this breadline and taking a couple of reliable witnesses. Show your Kela card and get your companions to take photographs of the volunteers who turn you away. Then go round to the police station and report an offence under section 11 of chapter 11 of the Penal Code. You can add a claim for damages to the process for good measure.

  7. Martin-Éric

    Good idea as far as showing a valid KELA card. I would also try a secondsimilar test: instead of a passport, to present a driver’s license or national ID card on which the citizenship line reads FIN and see if they turn that down too.

  8. Seppo

    When I first heard about the story, I was sure they were talking about Russian tourists and other temporary visitors. That I would have understood. The fact that “keskukselle kelpaa vain passi, ei kelakortti” is a sign that they really want all the Russians out.

    However, “Laakso kuitenkin korostaa, että luksusauton omistava suomalainenkaan tuskin saa ruokakassia.” So this has probably started with the impression that many of the Russians are just not actually in need of the free food. Still, with the passports and all, it’s gone too far.

  9. Seppo

    – “This makes it explicitly clear that nationality has become a criterion of eligibility.”

    Just a small clarification. Nationality = membership in a nation. Citizenship = legal status as a resident of a state or other political unit.

    One can be Russian by nationality but a Finnish citizen. And vice versa. Passports are a sign of citizenship, and sometimes in multinational states there is a line for nationality too, but quite rarely.

    So the criterion is citizenship but what they are really after is, indeed, nationality. But nationality you cannot prove with a document, it is a sense of belonging that every individual defines for himself.

  10. Martin-Éric

    Now that I think of it, there is one problem with the KELA card: it’s not a picture ID, so it could be anyone’s KELA card. There indeed was a possibility to order a KELA card with a picture, as an extra service, until a few years ago, but not anymore. As I recall, someone in high places ruled that it’s not within KELA’s mandate to issue ID cards. Instead, they suggested that every Finn or foreign resident purchased a proper picture ID card from the police.

  11. JusticeDemon


    English does not mark the kansalaisuus/kansallisuus distinction in the way that you suggest. This is partly a consequence of British Empire history. Modern usage has made the terms “citizenship” and “nationality” synonymous in most contexts. Kansallisuus is a rare expression in Finnish that is generally best expressed as “ethnic or national origin”. Kansalaisuus is either “citizenship” or “nationality”, depending on context, style, custom and idiolect.

    Migri standardly refers to kansalaisuuslaki as the Nationality Act, and this name is fully consistent with the terminology used both currently and historically in UK law.

  12. JusticeDemon


    I think everyone eligible for a Kela card must similarly be eligible for a police-issue identity card.

    Of course, anonymity is also an important feature of social service provision in the third sector.

  13. Martin-Éric

    Oh, absolutely, everyone eligible for a free KELA card can also purchase an ID card from the police. The point, as was stated elsewhere, is why the hell someone who shouldn’t have to prove their identity in the first place would be forced to purchase any kind of picture ID from the police, be it a passport or an ID card, even more so in a situation where poverty is precisely what lead them to charity organisations in the first place.

  14. JusticeDemon


    You and I both know that Matti Meikalainen of no fixed abode under a boat will never be asked for a passport, whereas someone looking more like Jani Toivola would get a third degree interrogation.

  15. Martin-Éric

    You and I also know that the challenge is precisely to catch those charity workers with their pants down, the day a reputedly homeless Finn shows up at the bread line without a passport and among a sufficiently large group of witnesses to call them on it.

  16. Allan

    I do agree on the points asking for a passport is not quite the right way to approach the issue. Maybe they should introduce a “charity card”, like there was a “viinakortti” in the “good old days”. I do remember in the 1990’s recession you would get cheaper meals etc. with the “blue card” you got from the employment centre. I suppose that would prove the “need” to a certain extent.

    William Nobody is claiming Finland is the social office of the world
    The greens are for one.
    How this makes Finland look?
    Hopefully it makes Finland look less attractive to people out for a leech?

  17. Seppo

    – “English does not mark the kansalaisuus/kansallisuus distinction in the way that you suggest.”

    I guess you are right. Neither do Finns always understand the distinction kansalaisuus/kansallisuus, especially since there is only one letter/sound difference (stupid, but typical for Finnish I guess).

    But it is a distinction that should be made. I just read an article, in English, where the author heavily disencouraged the use of the word ‘nation’ when you actually mean ‘state’. Not all states are nation-states and when some decision is made, it is the state (=politicians) that make the decision, not the nation (=people).

    Nation and state are far from being synonymous, even though it has been the number one goal of nationalism to make them synonymous – one nation, one state. When we speak of nations and states as synonymous we are reproducing this nationalist idea.

  18. Hannu

    Justicedemon you are missing one thing in here, private charity isnt business or public service, they can choose who they serve like private person can.

  19. JusticeDemon


    Is that your carefully considered understanding of section 11 of chapter 11 of the Finnish Penal Code, or are you just pissed again?

  20. Hannu

    justicedemon YLE news,

    Rikosylikomisario Bengt Brinkas Kymenlaakson poliisista on kummissaan Kotkan keräys- ja avustuskeskuksen passivaatimuksesta. Keskuksen ikkunassa on lappu, joka ilmoittaa, että ruokakassit on tarkoitettu vain suomalaisille. Lainvastainen kyltti ei kuitenkaan ole.

    – Lain mukaan yksityinen yhdistys ja avustusjärjestö voi valita asiakkaansa. Toinen asia on, onko tämä hyvien tapojen mukaista, Brinkas pohtii.

    Samaa mieltä on sisäasiainministeriön maahanmuuttojohtaja Kristina Stenman. Yhdenvertaisuuslaki koskee lähinnä julkisyhteisöjä ja yrityksiä.

    – Yhdistykset jäävät harmaalle alueelle, sanoo Stenman.


  21. Hannu

    Private “yhdistys” can and should be able choose who it helps or we should stop almost all because most of them are “sexist” “racist” and such.
    Browse bit and you see how many “yhdistys” there is racistly helping just immigrants 😉

  22. JusticeDemon


    How was this relevant to the penal code provision that I specified above?

    What makes you think those organisations would refuse to help an immigrant with a Finnish passport? Or perhaps you forgot that such immigrants exist. You really should not drink so much before you go online.

  23. Hannu

    immigrants with finnish passports are finns, are you retarded when you dont see it?
    And look new news, its ok 🙂

  24. JusticeDemon


    You still haven’t sobered up. There are immigrants who already have a Finnish passport before arriving in Finland for the first time. Organisations that specialise in assisting immigrants do not exclude immigrants of this kind, so what are we to make of your characterisation of an “yhdistys” there is racistly helping just immigrants.

    “Immigrant” is not a racial category. An organisation that specialises in assisting immigrants is not thereby discriminating on the basis of ethnic origin or citizenship.

    If you are sober and still don’t get this, then you are spectacularly ignorant of the basic terminology and categories of this branch of public policy. So which is it, kusipää or paskapää?