Let’s stop fooling ourselves about the Romany minority in Finland and Europe

by , under Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

I’ve been following with disappointment the stories published in the Finnish media about the East European Romany minority beggars coming to Finland.  If politicians don’t get it, it’s pretty clear that a part of the media never mind the public won’t either.  Social ills like xenophobia, prejudice and racism are not “fixed” in a few days, months or years but take generations for the open wounds to heal.

Moreover, a great part of the Romany minority problem in Europe is not only due to these people, but to our own prejudices and racism that we have seen erupt recently in countries like Slovakia, Hungary and others.

So far we have two apparent political solutions in Finland on how to solve this so-called “problem:” One of them is to deport them out of Finland and another is to seek help from the Romanian authorities by sending a fact-finding mission to that country.

Let’s get serious for a moment folks.  What we should be really doing is ask why an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) has raised this issue and how the government is responding.

It’s pretty clear that the PS, worried about its poor standings in recent opinion polls, is using anti-Roma sentiment to lure disappointed voters back to its party.  The government in turn has no choice but to be seen doing something as the PS attempt to raise this issue as a matter of national security.

But let’s try to understand the recent red-herring debate in parliament between the opposition PS and government. Why are we so concerned about these people coming to Finland? Is it our racism and loathing that reflects back on us when we see them begging? Is it our failure as a society to deal with our own Romany “problem?” Are we shocked to see that there are actually people in Europe who are poor and exploited?

In Finland we have about 10,000 people belonging to the Romany minority. Political parties have rarely if ever spoken up for them.  If our handling of our own Romany minority problem is anything to go by, we are very far from finding any solutions to these people from Eastern Europe.

Another important question we should ask is how many people are we speaking of? Hundreds, thousands or maybe tens of thousands? Why don’t we have any ball-park figures? Is this the way politicians and the media victimize a group like the Roma and show them to be a bigger threat than they actually are?

One of the matters I’d recommend to all parties concerned in this country is that we should stop treating racism and social exclusion as something that we can fix instantly.  No matter how much we try, the Romany minority problem will not go away tomorrow nor after tomorrow.

It will take a lot of time to solve and heal.

In order for us to do something effective in the meantime, we should take a totally different approach to the problem. We should start to look at our history and our own prejudices as part of the problem.

 

  1. first!

    “Is it our racism and loathing that reflects back on us when we see them begging? ”

    What bothers when I see beggars begging is the fact that its tied to organized crime. All form of begging is designed to tug on your heart strings, but accepting the act of begging, or even worse, endorsing it by actually giving money, is feeding into the problem. At its extreme, especially in China and India, begging is controlled by something that can be regarded as a mafia. These psychos often kidnap or adopt little children, whom they then proceed to mutilate in order to make a better buck.

    • Migrant Tales

      So first! what is the solution? If you state that begging is a “racket” then how to we challenge it?

      Welcome to Migrant Tales.

  2. Farang

    Migrant Tales:

    “So first! what is the solution? If you state that begging is a “racket” then how to we challenge it?”

    Perussuomalaiset have already suggested a solution. Begging to be forbidded and those beggers deported. What else do you need?

    I haven’t seen anyone else coming up with any better solution. Actually no one has come up with any other solution at all.

  3. justicedemon

    1. Helsinki will be even duller without street musicians.

    2. Perhaps Ricky can tell us which South American dictator killed all the donkeys and why.

    3. Perhaps Farang can remind us of the stages in deportation, of how long it takes and of how much it costs. Or then again, perhaps Farang hasn’t got a clue and we could cover the expense with a special ignorance tax. Hint: it is much quicker and far cheaper to tolerate the discomfort of pretending not to notice the woman sitting on the ground with the paper cup or the man playing unseasonably cheerful melodies on the accordion.

    4. Politics, international trade, business, transport, trade unions, sport and religion are also “tied to organised crime”.

    5. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

    • Migrant Tales

      JusticeDemon, what gets me is that all these persons demanding a tougher line have never lived as refugees, never suffered economic hardships as in developing countries, never lived under a dictatorship and never ever seen war except on Playstation 3. If a crisis hit Finland, their bravado and saber rattling would turn into cowardice.

      Here is how one general, Ibérico Saint Jean, justified in Argentina the illegal abduction, torture and death of many people: “First we will kill all the subversives [terrorists], then we will kill their collaborators; then their sympathizers; later those who remain indifferent. And finally we will kill the timid.”

  4. D4R

    Farang: Migrant Tales:

    “So first! what is the solution? If you state that begging is a “racket” then how to we challenge it?”

    Perussuomalaiset have already suggested a solution. Begging to be forbidded and those beggers deported. What else do you need?

    I haven’t seen anyone else coming up with any better solution. Actually no one has come up with any other solution at all.

    You mean the one P.S member who suggested romany gypsies to ubduct them and mug them physically then send them home? is that the solution you mean will be ideal?

  5. D4R

    You P.S are bunch of weirdos politically, you and your master Jussis halla aho, the one who likes to get in high office in the easy way, wich is attacking poor imigrants like Iraqis and Somalis, why do you think he constantly non stop makes atack on them? because he knows in the eyes of many Finns that he can turn them against these people by creating manifesties wich fish voters like a fishing pole so to attack people who’re in a weak position, some of you P.S members don’t like to be criticised nor do your master Halla aho, but you guys are doing the same, you don’t have no soluton for the imigrants in your country except to bash them publicly, im asking, is that going to solve anything or any good?

    • Migrant Tales

      D4R, I agree that some PS politicians are socially challenged. They cannot adapt to our society so they choose to change it so society will adapt to them. The only problem, however, is that populism lacks depth and credibility. If they ever ran Finland, this country would be a disaster zone.

  6. Ahti Tolvanen

    We already have laws against human trafficking and extortion, for instance, which can be applied to the illegal aspects of “organized begging”. When politicians crusade about getting the beggars off the streets by deporting them they are actually talking about deporting the witnesses and the victims of these illegal activities along with those who are just desperately poor. The illegal aspects of organised begging need to be investigated and legal protection should be afforded to it’s victims in the same way the legal system and the police protect more advantaged members of society.

  7. first!

    “So first! what is the solution? If you state that begging is a “racket” then how to we challenge it?”

    As stated, there are laws that deal with racketeering. From a social standpoint I’d say that the first steps would have to be educating people. We can start by simply that.

    We could educate the romani, first and foremost. Obviously this is an issue in Romania, and should be dealt with locally. Which begs the question, why is Romania even an EU- state, since it obviously discriminates against and cannot provide a basic, humane standard of living for its own citizens.

    Second, we should educate the people in the countries that beggars target. This blog, for example, could’ve stated what I stated. That begging is organized crime with definite ties to extortion, abduction and human- trafficking.

    Giving money to beggars will not solve any issue with begging, it only serves to make it worse!

    Educating everyone is the only solution. Justifying begging only increases the phenomenon.

    • Migrant Tales

      first! Ahti Tolvanen contributed an interesting comment on what you are asking.

      –That begging is organized crime with definite ties to extortion, abduction and human- trafficking.

      If that is part of the problem, you won’t solve it by victimizing and using such people as political fodder.

      Education is important but this takes time, generations. That is why we should start as soon as possible. But the problem does not only reside in the Romany minority, but in us and our society. It seems that for each injustice we commit to a group, it takes ten times longer to resolve.

      But then we must ask another important question: Are we educating these people to be just like us? Or should we educate them to be self-sufficient and have self-esteem for their culture and themselves?

  8. first!

    I realized my phrasing leaves a bit of an opening for confusion. I did not mean to imply that romani and Romania are the same thing. I am well aware of the facts 😀

    I made two separate, distinct points. 1) Educating romani and 2) Romania needs to get its head out of its ass.

  9. eyeopener

    Hi Ahti.

    And what should the politicians do against “non-organised begging”?? Which is rather common in Finland I am afraid.

    Politicians like to look for the easy solutions to make quick gains in polls. However, understanding the reality of the decline of the social fabric in Finland due to economic downturns is another “piece of cake”.

    Isn’t easier to put the blame on “outsiders” for the minimal costs than to turn on responsibilities to change the real life situations of all people living in Finland?? Political parties have a notorious name in thsi respect. Everywhere!!

  10. first!

    Migrant Tales

    “If that is part of the problem, you won’t solve it by victimizing and using such people as political fodder. ”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. These people are, however, being used as a political tool by both ends of the political spectrum, and that will not stop until someone admits to it. I don’t care which side does it first. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    Education takes time, but until we face the facts and stop pretending that the problem will go away by simple giving money to beggars, nothing will change. Why would we not begin the process of education today, right now? The first step is to stay adamant about funding both the criminals in charge of these rackets, as well as their footsoldiers.

    “But then we must ask another important question: Are we educating these people to be just like us? Or should we educate them to be self-sufficient and have self-esteem for their culture and themselves?”

    I’m not quite clear of what you mean by “like us”. Self- sufficiency is paramount.

    However, and do correct me if I’m wrong, I am under the impression that begging is a deeply rooted aspect of the east- european romani culture, maybe it’s not a “tenet of faith” per se, but it has been a large part of their everyday life for hundreds of years. From this point of view, the culture has to change and it has to come from within themselves.

  11. eyeopener

    Then my dear First why did you make the connection in the first place. Secondly, your second comment doesnot change your prejudice at all. It even worsens it. Your opinion about the two issues are very clear and very negative.

    “I made two separate, distinct points. 1) Educating romani and 2) Romania needs to get its head out of its ass”. (your lines)

    Two distinct point which are linked together by the word “and”. Are you a linguistic?? In that case you foul the discussion. Furthermore you pollute the discussion with “unacceptable wordings”.

    It tells a lot about your own “foulness” or should I say “foolishness”. It seems to same to you, isn’t it??

  12. first!

    eyeopener

    I made the connection, because most romani beggars in Finland come from Romania. I am aware, that this is not the only country they come from. I’ve made that quite clear in my second comment.

    “Two distinct point which are linked together by the word “and””

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. The “and” in this context means to separate the two concepts.

    Do you disagree with my position regarding education? I’m sorry if you’ve decided to misunderstand what I’m typing. It seems like Migrant Tales is well on the map of what I’m saying, though.

  13. eyeopener

    Dear First.

    “And” links concepts do not seperate them. You are in need of some education yourself!!

    I am never against education. But to put the emphasis of education on the Romani is a bridge too far and too fast a conclusion.

    Also Finns are in need or should be educated as well as to understand the reasons for Romani behavior, their history and their way of being.

    Simple solutions as education (time, outcome, effort, money etc.) indicate a low-level understanding of the real problematics of the Romani people.

    Where did you get the information that MOST of the ROMANI come from Romania?? You seems to have slacken your statement about ROMANI coming from ROMANIA. Why did you change ROMANI for MOST of ROMANI?? Too much of stereotyping??

  14. first!

    eyeopener

    I think I’ve spotted where you misunderstand.

    “2) Romania needs to get its head out of its ass”.”

    By this, I mean that the Romanian government needs to activate itself and start dealing with the romani people who endure appalling standards of living and who are discriminated against throughout Romanian society.

    So far it seems the Romanian government is quite unwilling to deal with their open discrimination against romani. As such, I don’t think Romania should be an EU- country until it can provide a humane standard of living for all its citizens. The living conditions and open discrimination that goes on in Romania towards the romani minority was well known before Romania joined EU. They (Romanian government) should, in this regard, get their heads out of their asses and get with the program.

  15. first!

    “But to put the emphasis of education on the Romani is a bridge too far and too fast a conclusion. ”

    Perhaps, but obviously the way things are currently going will not change unless something gets done. Education takes time and resources, but it has to start somewhere.

    “Where did you get the information that MOST of the ROMANI come from Romania?”

    I was under the impression that most east european romani beggars in Finland originate from Romania. I am aware that this is not the only country they come from. My knowledge is based on what I read from newspapers. Most times the words “Romanian romanit..” is what is used, so I figured it’s a pretty safe bet.

    “You seems to have slacken your statement about ROMANI coming from ROMANIA. Why did you change ROMANI for MOST of ROMANI?? Too much of stereotyping??”

    Again, I did slacken my statement about romani coming from Romania, because I know that not all of them come from Romania. I think we should stay on topic, though, and my five cents into the matter is to suggest education across the board.

    I am using Romania as an example of all the states where the romani minority is not treated as a equal part of society. I did not mean to confuse you into thinking that I am unaware of the fact that Romania is not a country named after the romani.

  16. eyeopener

    First!

    Your assumption:

    “Romania needs to get its head out of its ass”.”
    By this, I mean that the Romanian government needs to activate itself and start dealing with the romani people who endure appalling standards of living and who are discriminated against throughout Romanian society.”

    Probably an impression too!! Are you employed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that you can make a statement like this?? Where did you get the information from to make such accussations? Impressions?? If I were you I would base my impressions on facts that are counter-checked against other information. More correct!!

    “I was under the impression that most east european romani beggars in Finland originate from Romania. I am aware that this is not the only country they come from. My knowledge is based on what I read from newspapers. Most times the words “Romanian romanit..” is what is used, so I figured it’s a pretty safe bet.”

    Safe bets doesnot make solid and defendable reasoning. Newspapers are notorious for their biases. I have some very nice examples of “statistics” from HS to demonstrate how “fictions” are made into “facts”. Furthermore, recent research on the credibility of journalists show very clearly that people don’t trust what news media publish. Probably you are aware of the New Of The World scandal in the UK. “Finding facts” or “assuming facts” are two different disciplines. I have to decline your explanation as trustworthy.

    “I am using Romania as an example of all the states where the romani minority is not treated as a equal part of society. I did not mean to confuse you into thinking that I am unaware of the fact that Romania is not a country named after the romani.”

    You better should have taken Finland as a case-study. What are your possibilities to research Romania?. You should be far more careful with what you say. We in MT are not ignorant people.

    Your excuses are accepted. But for next time : Be careful what you write. OK?

  17. first!

    “Your excuses are accepted. But for next time : Be careful what you write. OK?”

    I’ll be sure to do that, but would you perhaps care to put to right those impressions which I have, instead of going off all: “It tells a lot about your own “foulness” or should I say “foolishness””

    “Are you employed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that you can make a statement like this?”

    “We in MT are not ignorant people. ”

    Again, I’d appreciate it, if you were to counter the arguments instead of ridiculing them. Otherwise the whole thing goes directly into a mouthing- off contest, which hardly benefits anyone.

    Nevertheless, I am glad that this matter is settled and we can finally get back on track. Before that, though, you stated earlier:

    “Also Finns are in need or should be educated as well as to understand the reasons for Romani behavior, their history and their way of being. ”

    I’d like to explore this, since I do not have a thorough understanding of Romani behavior.

    Again, I am under an impression, that the “native” Romani in Finland hardly feel any kinship towards the Romani from Eastern Europe. Bearing this in mind, I’m not sure if these two groups can be equated in the sense that Finland can be used as a case- study.

    And yes, it is an impression. If I’m wrong, feel free to say so. I’m basing this on the fact that I haven’t heard of any collaboration between Eastern European Romani beggars and Romani native to Finland.

  18. eyeopener

    First!

    Ouch!!

    The problem with you guys is, that when confronted with opposition you play ignorant and want an explanation for everything you brought up yourself.

    You know what!! Reflect deeply on what I have writter to you IN RELATION TO WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN yourself.

    The explanation will come by itself.

    But…….. maybe reflection is a bridge too far and too fast.

    I’ll wait till the education sinks in and (connecting) insight will come.

    Have a nice mediation. Not bad for Easter!!

  19. first!

    “The problem with you guys is, that when confronted with opposition you play ignorant and want an explanation for everything you brought up yourself.”

    Who’s “us guys”? What I brought up was the following:

    1) Handing money to beggars is funding organized crime with all of the negative aspects it brings along

    2) Romani beggars (not only from Romania) are discriminated against in Romania, or the countries where they come from

    And my proposed solution is education.

    Now, I thought we cleared up the phrasing issues, which means that we can finally move on to the issue at hand.

    So far you’ve said that education takes time and resources. I agreed and said that it may be a long process, but it has to start somewhere.

    Then we got to this point:

    “Also Finns are in need or should be educated as well as to understand the reasons for Romani behavior, their history and their way of being. ”

    “I’d like to explore this, since I do not have a thorough understanding of Romani behavior. ”

    And that’s as far as we got.

    I will say this, though. I believe that begging as a phenomenon continues as long as it is perceived to be profitable. Is it possible to goad people toward other means of getting by? Absolutely. It takes resolve and patience, but it can and will happen. I don’t think it’ll happen overnight, more than likely it’ll take as many generations to get there as it took to get to where the situation is now.

    By education I don’t only mean teaching people to read and write, but to teach them to explore new ideas and new avenues of thinking. Basic technological solutions for bettering everyday life is a great way to motivate people. Purifying drinking water is a great way to start, but this is may be more of an issue for countries struggling in Africa, and this isn’t what this post is about.

    I also think the Romani of Eastern Europe will benefit more from actions taking place in their direct neighborhood. (As opposed to the city of Helsinki buying plane tickets to send them home for the winter, it was a nice thing to do, but it may have opened a real can of worms, so to speak.) I’m sure that some efforts are already under way, but to sort through generations of illiteracy and habits which are outdated in the modern, fast-paced world, will take more than a few shanty aid-stations. Pressure has to come from EU and it has to be directed at those EU states where the Romani minority is being discriminated against on a governmental and social level. I don’t know what would be a good indicator for showing improvement, but we could start by giving Romania and the other countries certain financial incentives to improve the literacy rate all around, but especially among the Romani.

    I don’t think begging can realistically be outlawed in Finland, because as a law it would leave too much open for interpretation. What should be done, though, is explain to people that handing money to beggars solves nothing. It only increases the incentive to keep begging. So far I’ve seen for myself that not all Eastern European beggars beg, especially during the summer time they collect empty bottles and cans from parks, in a sense, this is a form of entrepreneurship in its own right. This sort of mentality is what we should attempt to boost, I think it’s a wonderful improvement to begging because it shows initiative, and proves to everyone that begging need not be their only source of income.

    It’s a start. But once the realization kicks in that it’s possible to improve your quality of life, I think we’ll start seeing some amazing results. This doesn’t apply only to eastern european romani, but to all people in places where taking action to improve your surroundings is possible.

    Phew. That was quite long-winded.

  20. justicedemon

    1st

    I have been wondering how your various claims apply to the fellow with a regular pitch at the Bio Rex end of the Crystal Palace building, just opposite the “East and West” Paasikivi memorial.

    Do you have any evidence that his daily presence on that pitch is “tied to organised crime”?

    Can you explain exactly how he is connected to child abductors and mutilators in China and India?

    Would it be reasonable to give him a hearing before proposing public policy measures that affect his livelihood?

  21. first!

    “I have been wondering how your various claims apply to the fellow with a regular pitch at the Bio Rex end of the Crystal Palace building, just opposite the “East and West” Paasikivi memorial.”

    I’ve seen the gentleman you’re referring to.

    “Do you have any evidence that his daily presence on that pitch is “tied to organised crime”?”

    If you mean have I asked him? No, I haven’t. I’ll admit, I am generalizing. But I have seen the two ladies in front of postitalo next to Elielinaukio very early in the morning with a lavishly dressed gentleman with a gold watch, exchanging items and money with him on the parking lot opposite Elielinaukio. Maybe they’re not organized, but the women sent forth by this man seem a lot more desperate during lunchtime. Maybe he didn’t even send them to do his bidding in the first place, and I’d have to ask them personally, but I think we can be honest about this instance, at least. Maybe I’m making a stretch while assuming that the same kinds of dealings go on between the person at Lasipalatsi, but I’m a bit skeptical that that’s the case.

    “Can you explain exactly how he is connected to child abductors and mutilators in China and India?”

    You know I cannot explain his connection with the child abductors in China and India. My point is, that begging as a phenomenon includes these things, and until the Finnish police made it clear that having children doing your begging for you in Finland will lead to them being taken into the care of the state, they were no longer used in this manner. Children have been mutilated in this manner for purposes of begging throughout history, and it won’t change as long as begging goes on.

    “Would it be reasonable to give him a hearing before proposing public policy measures that affect his livelihood?”

    Absolutely, and again, I’m not proposing outlawing begging. I’m for educating people about funding begging, because it only increases the incentive to beg.

    I think the man at Lasipalatsi has begged enough for one lifetime. I think it may be quite a massive adjustment for him to find other means of income, but it can be done. It won’t happen by giving him money for begging, since he’s clearly done it for quite a while already.

  22. justicedemon

    1st

    So if, on the same quality of evidence, I tell people that your livelihood is “tied to organised crime” and is a “phenomenon that includes” abducting and mutilating children, then this would be reason enough for everyone to impose a corresponding embargo on you?

    Somehow, I think you would be running to Asianajotoimisto Kanne ja Korvaus Ky complaining of defamation and claiming compensation for lost income before the cows were sent out to graze in the morning.

  23. 1st

    JD

    You missed this one: “I’m for educating people about funding begging, because it only increases the incentive to beg. ”

    Now, it’s a matter of opinion of whether or not begging is a good means of supporting yourself, but I think it would be better to steer beggars toward more productive practices. As I stated earlier, I’ve witnessed beggars show incredible initiative by collecting empty bottles and cans, so they’re clearly capable of taking action when necessary and when the returns justify it. .

    I don’t know the accurate figures on how many beggars are tied to organized crime per se,
    but if the percentage goes over 20, then people absolutely have to know what they’re funding.

    I don’t know what the accurate figures are, though, and in case we’re only talking about like 10% being organized crime, then I’ll have no qualms with adjusting my attitude.

    However, were my livelyhood 90% in the hands of criminals, then I doubt I’d have any grounds for suing anyone for defamation in case someone called me out on it.

  24. Laputis

    Migrant Tales:

    “what gets me is that all these persons demanding a tougher line have never lived as refugees, never suffered economic hardships as in developing countries, never lived under a dictatorship and never ever seen war except on Playstation 3. If a crisis hit Finland, their bravado and saber rattling would turn into cowardice.”

    Well, you are wrong here. I for one have experienced economic hardships, lived under dictatorship (Soviet Union) etc., but I demand a tougher line against Gypsies, who are begging. Economic hardship IS NOT excuse for begging, believe me! Many people experience hardships, but they are working, not begging. Also, I have relatives musicians. They have been going through economic hardships, but they have never been playing on the streets. They have said that they would never ever go to play on street, because it is a great shame to do so. It´s not a thing proper musician would do.

    P.S. Why on earth Gypsies are called “Romani”? Romanians is different ethnic group, which native tongue is related to French, Italian, Spanish etc. languages. Gypsy native language, however is related to Hindi, Urdu etc. languages. Why two different ethnic groups must be confused each to other?

    • Migrant Tales

      Laputis, the way to solve begging is not outlawing it. By doing that you hope to brush the problem under the rug. If we look at the PS politicians demanding that begging should be forbidden in Finland, none of them have lived under an autocratic regime nor faced persecution. They are the spoiled kids of the social welfare system that have not found anything else to do but to pick on other groups.

      Romany and Romanian are two different things.

  25. Native Finnish Woman

    Personally I think 1st is making a lot of sense. I don’t really understand why what s/he is saying is being met with such scorn, especially by eyeopener. Eyeopener, you may think it is obvious what you want to say as criticism, but I don’t understand it either, so please tell us. Spell it out :). I think 1st and I are both here to learn.

    I also believe education is crucial for improving the situation of the Romanian romani in their own home country. I don’t think anyone should have to beg. Education won’t happen or won’t help if the systematic discrimination against romani doesn’t end. The problem is of course also that, let’s face it, not all romani in Romania want to be helped. See the documentary Kerjäläiselokuva by Hanna Maylett, for example, to realise how difficult it sometimes is to help people. They do not always behave as “perfect charity receivers”. They are people, with their own will and culture and ideas and pride. I’ve also seen another, foreign documentary, which was either Spanish or Italian, in which I saw the palaces the “top dog” romani build. These are the people at the top of the begging food chain. They can have 2, 3 or more big empty houses in their home village while their close kin has to live in trailer parks or shanty towns in Spain, the children sent to beg and steal.

    It’s not a simple issue, and I don’t have specific answers to it, but I really feel angry for the children’s sake. They are the ones robbed of opportunities in all this. For their sake I hope people who know what they are doing get to start doing it soon, to improve their future prospects.

  26. Laputis

    Migrant Tales:

    “Laputis, the way to solve begging is not outlawing it. By doing that you hope to brush the problem under the rug. If we look at the PS politicians demanding that begging should be forbidden in Finland, none of them have lived under an autocratic regime nor faced persecution. They are the spoiled kids of the social welfare system that have not found anything else to do but to pick on other groups.”

    I disagree with you. In Finland solving of begging is exactly outlawing. Because it is practised mostly (or exclusively only) by foreigners, not locals. If Finland outlaws begging, the foreign beggers just don´t come to Finland, that´s it. They stay in homeland, or go to other countries. Those are the homelands of beggers, which should solve the reasons for begging (economic hardships etc.), and Finland could give some help to those countries, if it wishes. That´s the way how I see how problems can be solved.
    And I demand that begging is forbidden in Finland, although I am not PS politician. And I have lived under autocratic regime (and especially my relatives, parents etc. have lived, I have some relatives sent to camps or even shot in Stalin´s “cleansings”). My family in 90-ies has faced persecution from mafia, which has been backed by authorities. I am not spoiled kid of welfare system.
    Begging is disliked not only by spoiled welfare kids, but also by people, who have been going through real hardships, and spent their lives in hard work. My family has been poor, but nobody would even consider ever to beg. We, me and my family members, consider begging as something bad and low. Decent people don´t beg, prostitute or steal, whatever their economic hardships would be. Decent people rather starve, than do those filthy things.

    I have experienced times, when was almost nothing to eat. Nothing to buy from shops. All clothes must have been washed by hands with simple piece of soap. No toilet paper. And so on.
    But my family members nor me have never been doing filthy things. We really rather starved than went to begging or stealing.

  27. Väinämöinen

    Justice Demon

    ”1. Helsinki will be even duller without street musicians.”

    Street playing is not begging and it is allowed in Finland

  28. Mark

    Laputis

    Begging is disliked not only by spoiled welfare kids, but also by people, who have been going through real hardships, and spent their lives in hard work.

    Why? Many of the people that beg are marginalised, and so the route of ‘work’ is not obvious. Also, their old ways of making a living have been eroded in the modern world. Why do we object so much to a public display of poverty? Are we saying that we cannot allow for poverty, whether Finnish or European in origin to be visible? That strikes me as odd. Maybe the visibility of beggars across Europe will actually create some impetus for politicians to take seriously the marginalisation of certain people in the EU. After all, it’s all too easy for them to become ‘the forgotten’.

    Of course, the last thing you want when you are about to get stuck into a three-course meal is a starving child wondering around the restaurant! I completely understand people’s disgust. But social problems have a habit of coming home to roost eventually! Tough. We shouldn’t have been so lazy in dealing with the problem in the first place.

  29. Väinämöinen

    Migrant Tales

    Shouldn’t you try to be a bit realistic also?

    A big group of people come to another country, they mostly don’t provide themselves with the lodging required, you have evidence that they have come as part of trafficking, they have money to travel thousands of kilometres.

    Some of them say openly that they pay for the ”spot” outside the trainstation, 40+ €/day. Last year I think it was a bigger fist-fight between two (or was it more) different gang members.

    So to stop the trafficking of humans, wouldn’t it be good to criminalize begging? Or simply follow EU-rules?

    ”D4R, I agree that some PS politicians are socially challenged. ”

    I do not think Ben Z. is a true finn, is he? He was the one protesting the most. Or did he move to PS?

  30. eyeopener

    Hi Native Finnish Woman.

    What I critisize in 1st approach is his entry in the thread. He opens there with a lot of generalizations that he can’t evidence. I find this a kind of opening the discusiion that I like to reject.

    With his blablabla reasoning he discredits himself. His way of bringing a topic to the forum has been met in MT many many times. Not I have to “spell it out” First! has to bring his evidence to the table which he obviously can’t.

    “I assume”, “I am under the impression”, “I use Romania as an example”, “I don’t know the accurate figures” are hardly arguments that you can take serious. Not very wise to write those claims. Makes First! not a trustworthy person.

    When somebody talks about educating people as a “vehicle” to understand should be very very careful in how to express her/himself in opinions.

    You believe that begging is immoral or people should not have to beg. Come here in Lapland then you can see Finn people -not Romani- beg. They should not?? Why do you think so?? In a better situation!!

    I fully agree with you that this issue is complex and complicated. Therefore it needs careful approaches. Not demagogics such as “throwing everything on one heap”, outlawing etc. MT contributors are very much aware of these opinions. See Clapotis in this blog. And he is just the top of the iceberg. The way First! enters in this thread is an example of ill-chosen argumentation.

    Neither does anger help. Anger is a bad advisor!!

  31. justicedemon

    1st

    were my livelyhood 90% in the hands of criminals, then I doubt I’d have any grounds for suing anyone for defamation in case someone called me out on it.

    Your doubt is misplaced. You would have a very clear cause of action in such circumstances.

    The classic example was marvelously described by Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:

    The sounds of angry voices reached him, and as he started up the stairs he was able to disentangle the noises of two entirely separate but heated arguments that were going on somewhere above him.

    One ended abruptly – or at least half of it did – as an angry overweight man came clattering down the stairs pulling his raincoat collar straight. The other half of the argument continued in a torrent of aggrieved French from high above them. The man pushed past Richard, said, “Save your money, mate, it’s a complete washout,” and disappeared out into the chilly morning.

    Regardless of how many single women offer French lessons as a euphemism for other services, it is defamation to assert that these other services are available in a specific establishment and the proprietor has a cause of action.

    Which is why I made you focus on a very specific example, of course.

    He wasn’t there today when I passed by at about 16.30.

  32. justicedemon

    Väinämöinen

    Street playing is not begging and it is allowed in Finland

    Then the problem is solved at a stroke!

    All we need to do is distribute a pocket comb and a small square of greaseproof paper to every beggar on the streets and hey presto! they become street musicians.

    We stand in awe of your brilliance, O wise one.

  33. Väinämöinen

    justicedemon

    May be you have to study the Finnish constitution a little, since you clearly don’t have an idea of what it is.

    Secondly, you are free to say Helsinki will be duller place without these so called musicians. I disagree, it is not credit to those whose song(s) they play. Usually the same song, over and over again that I would not call MUSIC.

    Rather the worst heavy metal in the world than the ”music” that they play.

  34. justicedemon

    Väinämöinen

    Please enlighten us all about how the Constitution of Finland is in any way relevant to the topic of street musicians. Personally I think I got you bang to rights and now you are simply bullshitting in the hope that others may be even more ignorant than you, but I’ll give you the benefit of any doubt that you think you can find.

    Your taste in music is similarly irrelevant, and will remain so until you get yourself appointed Supreme Cultural Arbiter for the City of Helsinki. The Devil will need to lease the Sisu and Urho first, of course.

  35. Native Finnish Woman

    eyeopener, thank you for clarifying, I think I understand your position better now.

    “You believe that begging is immoral or people should not have to beg. ”

    Not sure if this was directed at me or first!, but as for me, I don’t think begging is immoral. The beggars are not immoral by begging. Perhaps our Western society is immoral for still allowing people to fall into situations where they have to beg. Someone above also said that prostitution is immoral (or somehow dirty or shameful), and I disagree with that as well. Also, I don’t see how banning begging will solve the matter. It would just get more complicated (the people who now beg might just start selling trinkets instead, for example).

    Mark asks “Why do we object so much to a public display of poverty?”.

    I’ve often thought about what part of seeing the Romanian beggars in Helsinki bothers me. It’s not the people themselves, I don’t feel any hostility towards them when I see them begging. (I’m more annoyed by “facers” from Amnesty or Greenpeace.) I guess mostly I just get so unhappy about how their own country’s decision makers have not been able to help them. Let me explain. Opinion-wise, I support state-provided welfare over dependency on private charity. I think forcing people to depend on private charity, i.e. having to beg from fellow citizens is demeaning and embarrassing, and help should instead be organised by the anonymous state, and given and received in private, not in front of others. That’s largely how it works here in Finland, too, with the welfare state model. But then we have countries that think it’s okay that there are great gaps in living standards. They don’t mind that classes of very poor people emerge and exist. I guess, in the end, what bothers me is that we pay pretty highly here in Finland to have a society where begging isn’t the norm. Sure, there was some begging before the Romanians arrived, but it wasn’t nearly as common. Now, with the Romanians having arrived to beg here permanently, we get the beggars even though we tried to organise society in such a way that there wouldn’t be any. And pretty much nothing we can do can help these particular people, because they are not attached to our society and its model. It’s frustrating, that’s why it bothers me. I know this isn’t a noble feeling, and it might change over time, and it isn’t the beggars’ fault personally, but I thought I’d be honest and admit that that is what they make me feel.

    Another issue is a more abstract issue of social capital. In Finland that has for a few decades now been pretty high in the form of social trust. To simplify, if an aquaintance comes to you and says they don’t have any money for food this month, you can pretty much believe them, because the step of asking is such a steep one. And they won’t come ask for help every week. You can take people at face value mostly. Begging introduces a very different model. When people have to beg, they need to make themselves look as needy and meek as possible. Their job is basically to “trick” as much money from gullible richer people who they don’t feel any kinship to. You have to be on your guard, have to remember that everything is not necessarily as the eye perceives. That’s part of the deal in this model. The asker needs to ask for as much as they can, and the giver needs to limit their own charity to match their funds and be careful not to be tricked. It sets up mistrust between people by default, and this feels alien and not something I’d like to see becoming more common in Finland (of course we also have our own tricksters and mistrust, just not in this form, yet).

  36. Väinämöinen

    Kari Tapio

    ”1. Helsinki will be even duller without street musicians.”

    Take and read the Finnish constitution along with chewing a violin. May do good for you so you don’t bullshit 100%.

  37. Farang

    You people seem to forget that the problems of Romanians are not Finland’s problem to solve. Therefore in Finland our responsibility is only to keep the problem out.

    You people seem to think that Finland is somehow responsible for solving all the problems in the world and the solution to all problems always seem to involve bringing the people here. Guess what! All the people in the world who needs help just wont fit in this small country.

    You just can’t imagine the damages you would cause if you were in a position to make decisions on Finland’s behalf.

    • Migrant Tales

      Farang, when did we ever suggest that Finland has to solve all of the world’s problems? That’s a statement used by anti-immigration groups.

      Don’t you think that if East European Roma come to Finland and they are in this country they are our problem.

  38. Laputis

    Mark

    -“Why? Many of the people that beg are marginalised, and so the route of ‘work’ is not obvious. Also, their old ways of making a living have been eroded in the modern world.”-

    Many people are marginalised, but why majority don’t beg? Excuse me, but for begging you need more than just marginalisation.
    The marginalised, poor people have enough chances to get work, believe me. It’s just some people don’t want to work. They want to be lazy, to drink alcohol and so on.
    My father has been offering some work for some marginalised people. Work in furniture factory. Half of them, who arrived to work, soon stopped to work. Their work didn’t meet any deadlines. Some even brought alcoholic beverages to factory. My father was forced to kick out them from work place.
    Excuse me, Mark, those “marginalised” people are given help, chance and support. But they themselves refuse it! And I don’t wonder if some of such people just go begging. Because it is at least not working.

    -“Why do we object so much to a public display of poverty? Are we saying that we cannot allow for poverty, whether Finnish or European in origin to be visible? That strikes me as odd. Maybe the visibility of beggars across Europe will actually create some impetus for politicians to take seriously the marginalisation of certain people in the EU. After all, it’s all too easy for them to become ‘the forgotten’.”-

    You have very strange opinions, Mark. I don’t object about public display of povery. Why would I, person, who has born and grown up in place, where poverty is publicly displayed everywhere??? I object about begging, because it is filthy thing to do. You know, I have some moral standarts. I think that human beings should have some moral standarts. And one of moral things is that you should achieve things (like money) yourself, and in honest way. You shouldn’t ask from other people things (money). Of course, if you are in trouble, you can borrow some money from friend or relative, but you should return back. This is how things should normally work. In Finland, there is possible support even from government and banks. But begging goes against moral values. It’s just…bad thing to do.
    Street musicians at least do something to get money. I don’t object too much against them, especially if they play enough good.

    -“Of course, the last thing you want when you are about to get stuck into a three-course meal is a starving child wondering around the restaurant! I completely understand people’s disgust. But social problems have a habit of coming home to roost eventually! Tough. We shouldn’t have been so lazy in dealing with the problem in the first place.”-

    Starving child usually is something different than begging Gypsies in Helsinki streets. I would give to the starving child meal, but I don’t give money to Gypsy beggers in Helsinki streets.

  39. Farang

    Migrant Tales:

    “Don’t you think that if East European Roma come to Finland and they are in this country they are our problem.”

    Yes those are our problem who come in our country and we need to GET RID of that problem, not SOLVE that problem. It’s Romania as country who has to solve the problem. People can’t expect to just move to another country and let the other country solve all their problems. We have separate processes for asylum seekers and refugees, but poverty is not something that would justify asylum.

  40. justicedemon

    Laputis

    Starving child usually is something different than begging Gypsies in Helsinki streets. I would give to the starving child meal, but I don’t give money to Gypsy beggers in Helsinki streets.

    Come now, Laputis! I’m sure that a clever and imaginative chap like you could dream up some excuse for not feeding children, either.

    We have already discussed and established your attitude to Gypsies. You claimed that your prejudice was objectively justified, as I recall. Something about business dealings with your brother. Well, perhaps if some kid picks your brother’s pocket one fine day, then you could extend your objectivity accordingly.

  41. eyeopener

    Hi Native Finnish Woman

    “eyeopener, thank you for clarifying, I think I understand your position better now”

    I really doubt that when I read your thread.

    t”I’ve often thought about what part of seeing the Romanian beggars in Helsinki bothers me”

    This is a sentence that bothers me. Wasn’t it the question about ROMANI beggars? Do I see here again a generalization that doesn’t fit the issue?? You go for the same neglect as First!! Do you understand already my doubt about your understanding?? ROMANI= people from Romania. Really?? Are you really informed??

    “I guess, in the end, what bothers me is that we pay pretty highly here in Finland to have a society where begging isn’t the norm”

    I invite you to come up North to see with your own eyes that begging (not Romani but Finns) is growing a norm!! And:….Lapland is Finland. Maybe you don’t like this but it’s what happens!!

    “In Finland that has for a few decades now been pretty high in the form of social trust”

    Social trust?? Maybe that goes for rural areas where people are familiar and used to the common situation. Cities are a different world. People tend to live in their own “micro-cosmos” of FB, cell-phones etc and live their lifes rather anonimously. I really doubt your “perfect world” of social capital in Finland.

    “When people have to beg, they need to make themselves look as needy and meek as possible. Their job is basically to “trick” as much money from gullible richer people who they don’t feel any kinship to”

    It looks that I can challenge your thinking a bit. What if we coinsider “begging” as the most
    resourceful way of entrepreneurship? Something wrong with that?? Interesting to read your answer to this intellectual challenge!!

  42. Mark

    Laputis

    I object about begging, because it is filthy thing to do. You know, I have some moral standarts. I think that human beings should have some moral standarts. And one of moral things is that you should achieve things (like money) yourself, and in honest way.

    Begging is actually a very sensible thing to do when you are poor and you have no obvious source of income. Human beings have compassion, and human beings also have a very long history of giving to those that do not have because ‘there by the Grace of God go I’, or to put it another way, in another lean winter, it could be me doing the begging.

    So, trying to take advantage of people’s compassion seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

    I would guess you have absolutely no problem with entrepreneurs doing their best to exploit human being’s desire for totally unnecessary gadgets and bling in trying to make a profit!?

    Also, I suppose you have no problem with capitalists being allowed to exploit and profit from simple greed, i.e. wanting more profit!?

    I mean if greed is good, if profiting from bling is good, then why would profiting from compassion be so bad? I would say that begging is one of the more morally justifiable means of making money by ‘creaming off the top’.

    Street musicians at least do something to get money. I don’t object too much against them, especially if they play enough good.

    Well, beggers beg, so they are doing something. If it’s such an easy way to get money without ‘doing something’, then why don’t you do it?! 🙂

  43. Mark

    Farang

    You people seem to think that Finland is somehow responsible for solving all the problems in the world and the solution to all problems always seem to involve bringing the people here.

    Not true. Most of what I see on Migrant Tales is people talking about solving the problems of people who are actually in Finland, not outside Finland. The point is, once they are here, then they deserve to be treated with respect, and not like cattle.

    Guess what! All the people in the world who needs help just wont fit in this small country.

    Guess what, this is not about Finland ‘helping’ other people, this is a question of whether people are allowed to persuade other people to part with their money in the name of ‘charity’. As no-one is being forced to give this charity, I cannot see how this can be presented as Finland being made responsible for solving the problems of the world.

    Sounds like you are throwing a complete red herring into the discussion.

  44. eyeopener

    Dear Farang.

    Along time ago I had to visit Church meetings. Half-way people marched the people “begging for money”. Putting the bag in front of you mentally (in front of the public you don’t refuse) coercing you to give money. That’s still happening in churches today!! Very common in Finland as elswhere.

    Individual morality should never be the measure of “rightfulness”. Especially not when people make their personal judgement “the rule of the world”. I call this arrogancy of the “top-shelf”. But that happens a lot with people of the “bottom-shelf” Right, Clapotis??

  45. eyeopener

    Hi Mark.

    Farang’s idea of Finland is a small country is a real laugh!! 1200km long and 600 km wide is not exactly small, do you think??

    Not small when I consider the Innovation and Competitiveness Monitors where Finland scores top places (3-1). Economically one of the strongest EU countries??

    What the heck is Farang talking about?? Small?? No, my dear Farang, Finland is a big country but maybe too big for your small mind.

    Let’s boeh this guy.

  46. Farang

    Eyeopener, Finland is small country by area. Meaning that you can’t fit all the helpless people of the world on Finland’s soil. That was very clear in my message, only idiot would not understand.

  47. Farang

    Mark

    “The point is, once they are here, then they deserve to be treated with respect, and not like cattle.”

    That is so totally wrong. If someone just comes here he can’t expect to be treated like Finns. Are you really that stupid?

  48. Mark

    Farang

    That is so totally wrong. If someone just comes here he can’t expect to be treated like Finns. Are you really that stupid?

    Do you call everyone who disagrees with you stupid or idiot? Good luck with that, sounds like a recipe for drunkenness, divorce and general ill-being.

    How on earth can you suggest that treating people who are not Finnish as somehow ‘less’ can possibly be a civilised, mature or even sensible way to interact with the world? The point is that when immigrants arrive in Finland and are given leave to stay, then they should be treated with respect: Yes, the same level of respect that Finns enjoy – because anything less really is fascism Nordic style!

  49. Farang

    Mark, there is absolutely no sense in discussing with you since you can’t even make a difference between immigrant and tourist. Since when should tourists be given the same rights as the people who a residents in Finland? Answer that!

  50. justicedemon

    Finland is the eighth largest country in Europe, and about 30 per cent larger than the United Kingdom with only about one twelfth of the population and one seventeenth of the population density of the UK.

    If Finland had the population density of the Netherlands, then its total population would be about 135 million (or even higher, subject to some quibbling over the habitability of water areas).

    Conclusion 1: Finland is a large but severely underpopulated country.

    Conclusion 2: Farang does not know the difference between a country and a State.

    But I’m a stupid idiot, so what do I know?

  51. Väinämöinen

    Migrant Tales

    ”Are we shocked to see that there are actually people in Europe who are poor and exploited?”

    Indeed we are all shocked since it is trafficking and a problem that many European governments are trying to deal with right now.

    How would Migrant Tales try to stop the trafficking?

    • Migrant Tales

      Väinämöinen, the first thing I do I’d stop kidding myself with populist rhetoric and trying to prohibit begging. Seeing some of our reactions in Finland, it’s pretty clear that the Romany minority issue is a European-wide problem. But yy tackling racism, prejudice and social exclusion in Europe as a first step you improve not only the plight of the Roma but of many other minorities. It is a win-win situation.

      More investment in education, acceptance and social equality to begin with. It requires a whole different approach and view of how we relate to others. This task will take generations but we must start from somewhere, no?

  52. eyeopener

    Hi Farang. Again you give yourself a demonstration of your brain-capacity As minimal as you choice of words. And that………my dear friend I knew already for a long time. Maybe you share First1’s opnion to get an education first before talking with people.

    So simple!!

  53. Farang

    Mark

    “Tourists? Where did I mention tourists?”

    Those beggars are tourists, don’t you understand that? You keep saying that they should have same rights as residents. Therefore you are claiming that tourists should have same rights as resident.

    You clearly mix up tourists (beggars) with immigrants.

    • Mark

      Farang

      I think you’ll find i said they deserve respect. However, now that you bring up the matter of rights, i think you’ll find they have similar rights to other EU citizens.

  54. Farang

    Mark

    “i think you’ll find they have similar rights to other EU citizens.”

    No they don’t. They don’t have rights for example for welfare and free health care. You talk so much bull that it’s hard to find any relevance from your posts.

  55. Mark

    Farang

    Mark

    “i think you’ll find they have similar rights to other EU citizens.”

    No they don’t. They don’t have rights for example for welfare and free health care. You talk so much bull that it’s hard to find any relevance from your posts.

    Well, that depends. First, the Roma do have the legal status of a minority here in Finland.. That’s a key point. While that does not stretch to Roma from other countries visiting Finland, it does highlight that full legal status across Europe will eventually bring with it the full rights of EU citizenship. In fact, there are several proposals gaining traction for dealing with the problem of the ad hoc legal status of Roma populations across Europe.

    The European Parliament’s resolution on the situation of the Roma in the European Union (P6_TA(2005)0151) calls in Article 2 on the Council, the Commission, the Member States and the candidate countries to consider recognising the Roma as a European minority.

    See, it is coming, Farang, even if we are only a little way along the road. In fact, the vast majority of European Roma are citizens of the countries in which they live, even if they are not given the full rights. Roma are recognised as a legal ethnic minority in about 15 European countries, and the number increases. Roma are successfully challenging the denial of rights under the European Social Chapter.

    Not only that, but all EU countries have pledged to protect Roma children, to ensure health care and education opportunities for Roma living in their territories and also to provide reproductive health services to Roma women.

    You know, Roma are our oldest ‘ethnic minority’ in Europe that have faced persecution. Do you know that half a million of them were murdered by the Nazis? Surely in this day and age you have a little more to offer this debate than denying them basic rights?,

  56. Väinämöinen

    so, Migrant Tales.

    What should be done to the 100% either Roma-criminals or victims of trafficking? Should they be allowed to do crimes and be exploited or should the western-european governments intervene?

    Intervene of course, if you think about the people. People have to be helped where they live.

    KARI TAPIO

    ”Perhaps Farang can remind us of the stages in deportation, of how long it takes and of how much it costs.”

    It doesn’t take many hours to get on a ferry to Tallinn and you are already on your way back home. If people have money to cross the boarder, they should have money to get back, right?

    Did you buy the newest of Matti &Teppo?

  57. Mark

    Väinämöinen

    What should be done to the 100% either Roma-criminals or victims of trafficking? Should they be allowed to do crimes and be exploited or should the western-european governments intervene?

    Yep, because that’s all you have to say about the Roma populations, who have been living and travelling Europe since the 1500s and are aptly described as Europe’s stateless nation!

    You have nothing to say about their culture, their art, their music – because all of that stuff just reminds you that they are people too. Nope, stick to the evil traffickers and criminals and carry on the centuries-old tradition of spitting on the gypsies and all they stand for.

    If you want to help Roma, you can bloody well stop stigmatizing them. How about that you hypocrite!

  58. eyeopener

    Hi Mark.

    You are so right!!

    Väinämöinen. When do you come up with detailed statistics about: “What should be done to the 100% either Roma-criminals or victims of trafficking?”

    Actually about the two groups you try to include in one sentence but meaning totally different things. 100% either Roma-criminals?? What do you mean?? Victims of trafficking?? Only those committed by Roma?? What about trafficking by Finns??

    Positive application of “sleeving”. Väinämöinen get the “simplicity badge” of the week. To be worn on his forehead so everybody can identify his skull-emptiness. People with this badge are dangerous for the mental health environment of Finns and foreigners.

    Quite a messy guy, aren’t you??

    • Mark

      By helping the children get an education. That’s a start. Kids don’t choose their status, but they can certainly suffer for it. If human rights mean anything, then they should mean that all kids get some kind if break so that they get some kind if opportunity in life.