Rebuttal to Helsingin Sanomat concerning the Kolari asylum reception center story

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, published Wednesday a story without interviewing a single asylum seeker at the Kolari reception center never mind yours truly about how this story emerged and developed.  

In a news story, journalists should strive to get all sides of the story, which Helsingin Sanomat didn’t do. Is a news story a rebuttal or an editorial that takes sides?

It shouldn’t be but the question remains: Why didn’t Helsingin Sanomat care to interview a direct source, or asylum seekers?

There are a lot of question marks that the news story didn’t address. For one, some asylum seekers at the camp allege that the manager Jari Sillantie threatens them by stating that they will get black marks in their records “if they don’t shut up.”

While we never mentioned that selling clothes, charging 3 euros to go to the gym or getting people to pay 10 euros to go shopping in Rovaniemi is illegal, there are a lot of ethical questions that can be raised. Is it ethical to charge an asylum seeker, who gets 92.30 euros a month, to relinquish 10% of his monthly money on clothes or transportation?

The manager states that they only charge “a small sum” of money for used clothes, ranging from 0.50 euros to 10 euros.

Are 10 euros or less a “small” sum if you get only 92.30 euros a month? What about if they punish you for not attending Finnish class and take away a part of your monthly allowance?

In today’s Finland, where xenophobia and hostility towards migrants, especially asylum seekers is present, few if anyone would ask such a question, even if they should.

There is another question that the reporter forgot to ask. Does the reception center have a permit to transport and charge people for rides? If they don’t, they cannot charge people for rides.

Ubertaxi has tried this and got itself in a lot of legal problems.

Näyttökuva 2016-5-11 kello 19.48.43

 

Read full story here.

Apart from some issues like charging asylum seekers with shoestring budgets for used clothes and other activities, one of the biggest questions that the Helsingin Sanomat article didn’t ask was why 120 asylum seekers demonstrated Wednesday against the manager?

Stating that it was only the food would be incorrect and suggests that the management doesn’t grasp the full picture.

Certainly if there was a demonstration last week, it suggests that there are problems at the reception center that the manager and the management haven’t been able to resolve. What role has poor communication played between the management and asylum seekers?

We don’t know the answer to the latter because the Helsingin Sanomat article doesn’t ask this important question either to the manager.

Our only interest in the stories we’ve published is “to be a voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.”

If Migrant Tales has reported some points of the story incorrectly, we have done our best to correct them.

It’s important that solutions are found to problems.

We hope this will be the case at the Kolari asylum reception center. 

 

  1. Yossie

    I find it rather ironic that you are demanding all sides of the story to be covered when you yourself have been so one sided with your own reporting.

    But lets look in to the ethical side of the issues. Is it ethical to expect asylum seekers to use money that has been given to them for living expenses? That is the reason they have been given the money! It is not there for them to save up! You keep talking about 10% of their monthly allowance, but that is actually for the most expensive shoes, rest of the stuff is less than 5 euros. Also how much clothes do they need to buy? New clothes every month? Don’t think so. So prices are totally reasonable. Also considering that many of them have paid thousands of euros to get smuggled here. They have their own money too.

    For the transportation, it seems we have already caught your sources lying. You claimed that the transportation costed money for them when they had to go see immigration office. Now we learn that is actually free for them and only need to pay if they want to go shopping. So is it unreasonable that they have to pay for trips done purely for their enjoyment? Like rest of us? When they actually have to pay a price that is a lot cheaper than the real price? It costs 60 euros if you take a normal bus.

    For the matter of cutting their allowance if they don’t take part to finnish lessons. I´m really surprised this is an issue. Aren’t these people suppose to be Super excited to integrate, learn the language and contribute? Doesn’t seem to be the case if they want to skip classes. And is the cutting allowance such on outrageous thing? If a finnish unemployed person refuses the work given to him, he gets his welfare cut too.

    So what you actually want is asylum seekers to have things better than finns. Now being equal is not actually a thing. You want priviledges! You don’t want to be 2nd or 3rd class citizens sure, you just want Finns to be those with immigrants being the new noble class that doesn’t have to pay for anything!

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Yossie, concerning your first claim: “I find it rather ironic that you are demanding all sides of the story to be covered when you yourself have been so one sided with your own reporting.”

      Migrant Tales is a blog and the stories we usually publish are opinionated and take sides. We can do this because we are a blog. Helsingin Sanomat is a newspaper. They write news stories, which have to abide by fair reporting, or can take a stand with their editorials and columns.

      You said: “For the transportation, it seems we have already caught your sources lying. You claimed that the transportation costed money for them when they had to go see immigration office. Now we learn that is actually free for them and only need to pay if they want to go shopping:”

      Lying? That’s a bit on the extreme side, no? You didn’t answer the question: Can you charge and transport people if you don’t have a permit to do so? Ask Ubertaxi what happened to them.

      How do you know what these people feel and what they’ve gone through?

      You claim that I “want asylum seekers to have things better than Finns.” Please read our Constitution and Section 6. I hope you don’t belong to that group of Finland that are systematically trying to subvert Section 6 of our Constitution. Hanny Mäntylä and the Perussuomalaiset are trying to do this.

      I think you are exaggerating about immigrants being a “noble class.”

  2. Yossie

    “Lying? That’s a bit on the extreme side, no? You didn’t answer the question: Can you charge and transport people if you don’t have a permit to do so? ”

    Yes, your facts were wrong so someone was lying. About charging for the ride, I´m no legal expert so can’t be sure how illegal that would be. Maybe we can’t twist the markets with giving free rides with government expenses either then, so I suppose the best case then would be that no rides will be provided and asylum seekers can use the same public services as everyone else. Section 6 man!

    “How do you know what these people feel and what they’ve gone through? ”

    I don’t and neither do you know for sure what they have gone through.

    “Please read our Constitution and Section 6.”

    What does constitution have to do with the fact that you want these asylum seekers to have stuff free that other finns have to pay for? Does the section 6 tell us that asylum seekers should have cost free football?

    “I think you are exaggerating about immigrants being a “noble class.””

    Yes it is exaggeration but not for much. It feels like crying for racism is enough for people to get sacked without much tanglible evidence of any kind of wrong doing.