A group of Romania Roma were woken up by the police in the middle of the night as they slept in their cars in a semi-abandoned parking lot of a match factory in Tampere, reports Aamulehti. According to the Romanian Roma, the police asked them to leave Tampere, which is a clear breach of their right to freedom of movement as EU citizens.
Elviira Davidow, an artist and social activist, told Migrant Tales that while it’s not illegal to sleep in one’s car, the Roma are actively trying to get work in Tampere and have the support of some local activists and residents.
She compared the action of the police to that of a sheriff in a wild west movie, who asks the bandits to leave the town before sundown.
“What is incredible is that these people were pestered by the police in the middle of the night and told to leave Tampere,” she said. “As everyone knows, EU citizen have the right to freedom of movement so what the police said is a breach of their civil rights.“
“We’re helping them in any way we can,” she continued. “The problem is that they can’t speak Finnish. They’re very interested in finding work and a few have in cleaning up the lot where they camped.“
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
Davidow said that the action of the police in singling out Romanian Roma is quite common in other Finnish cities like Helsinki.
Ethnic profiling doesn’t only happen to the Roma but to other migrants, according to complaints received by the Ombudsman for Minorities.
The Council of Europe expressed concern last year over ethnic profiling by the police in Finland.Davidow said that helping the Roma during these times, when anti-immigration and anti-Roma sentiment are on the rise, people should try to inform themselves and understand the issues and challenges that groups like the Roma face.
“For me this type of activism is the most natural thing to do,” she said.
Meanwhile, Timo Puuska, the real estate superintendent of the plant, told Migrant Tales Saturday that the matter has been cleared up with the police.
“[The police] don’t have the right to touch their things or ask them to leave the premises,” he said. “They can ask someone to leave if they get an order from the district court or somebody needs police help to vacate a property.”
Puuska said that next week the Romanian Roma will begin to work on the lot by sorting scrap metal and furniture.
“In my opinion, these Roma are one of the best sorters in the world,” he said. “Nothing will go to waste when they sort.”