Return back to Finland’s “good old days?” No thanks!

by , under Enrique Tessieri


When some Finns and parties talk about returning to the “good old days,” they are saying that they’d like to return to the days when foreigners had practically no rights and where racism was king. It was also a time of appeasement to the former Soviet Union, media self-censorship, impunity, and human rights abuses.

One of the most quaint matters about those who want to take Finland back to the good old days is that they weren’t even born during those troubled times.

The treatment of asylum seekers and watching over their rights brings stark memories of the good old days.
Take back Finland? Source: Twitter

What kinds of laws were in force back then? The list below is by no means exhaustive:

  • Finland did not have any immigration act until 1983, or about 66 years after independence;
  • The Aliens’ Office granted residence permits on a one-by-one basis;
  • The Aliens’ Office under Eila Kännö functioned like a state within a state;
  • Even if Finnish women were the first to get the right to vote in Europe in 1906, they could not pass on Finnish citizenship to their born child until 1984;
  • Foreigners did not have the right to appeal if deported;
  • Police surveillance of foreigners by the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo) was standard;
  • Supo had a register of foreigners that showed which demonstrations the person had taken part in and if he or she supported human rights;
  • Human rights abuses of asylum seekers were the rule;
  • Soviet citizens were denied asylum in Finland even if they requested it;
  • Finland returned tens of thousands of Ingrians and Estonians at Moscow’s request;
  • There were so few foreigners in the 1970s (under 12,000) that the biggest national groups were Finns who were naturalized Swedes;
  • Racialization was the rule and carved in stone;
  • Foreigners could not own or publish newspapers;
  • The Finnish media portrayed asylum seekers from countries like Somalia in an overtly racist manner;
  • Journalists, except for editors, were not allowed to write about Finland’s special relationship with the former USSR;
  • Finlandization, or appeasement to Moscow, compromised press freedom and encouraged self-censorship;
  • The foreign ministry and its propaganda arm, Finnfacts, did everything possible to quiet and ostracize Finlandization critics;
  • Foreigners could not organize demonstrations;
  • Finland was ruled by a strongman, Urho Kekkonen, from 1955 to 1982;
  • Under the Restricting Act of 1939 (219/1939), which became redundant in 1992, foreigners were not allowed to acquire a majority stake in a Finnish company;
  • Ownership limits of Finnish firms were 20% normally and 40% under special permission;
  • Foreigners could not own shares in sectors such as forestry, securities trading, transportation, mining, real estate, and shipping;
  • Foreigners could not own land;
  • Most Finns never heard of pizza;
  • Food markets had very few if any foreign produce.

Does any democratic-loving person who respects human rights want to return to the good old days of above?

Not me!

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