October 19, 1982: A day we should never forget in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The first large demonstration ever held in Finland by migrants was on October 19, 1982. Before that historic march, some 100 Pakistanis marched from Helsinki to Turku in the early 1970s to protest that they didn’t get work in Finland. The second march in 1982, began in front of Porthania and ended at the doorsteps of Parliament. 

A day before the 1982 march, the then Aliens’ Office head, Eila Kännö, was reported to have threatened on Ilta-Sanomat that those migrants that took part in the march would be arrested. Back then, foreigners had few rights in Finland.

Among the things we were marching for back then was passage of Finland’s first Aliens Act, which came into force in 1984, or 65 years after independence.


I’m proud that we did organize the march. I found a rare poster in my files of that day we should never forget. 

IMG_2981The official poster that was used for the march on October 19, 1982.

If you asked over thirty years ago the police why Finland had such a restrictive policy against foreigners, their response was a common one: To keep criminals from moving to Finland.