Tapani Brotherus: The present refugee atmosphere in Finland “is part of a phase”

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Former ambassador to Chile (1971-76) Tapani Brotherus, 80, is a hero to many. Thanks to his efforts, many enemies of Augusto Pinochet’s military junta would have ended imprisoned, tortured, and dead today. 

Brotherus’ example to help Chileans escape the clutches of a brutal regime inspired the screening of a six-part television series in spring called Invisible heroes.

See original TV interview (in Finnish) here.

Even if 9/11 is a day of mourning for the United States, the original 9/11 happened in Chile in 1973, when General  Pinochet violently overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende with the full backing of the United States.

Chile’s presidential palace, Palacio de La Moneda, under siege by the military.

“Finland’s refugee policy started in 1922 when Finland took [some 8,000 Menshevik] refugees of the Kronstadt rebellion [located near Saint Petersburg],” he said. “There’s been progress [in the treatment of refugees] since they confined them to an island near Vyborg and [about 50 years later] Chilean refugees were located near Turku.”

The former diplomat said that the record number of asylum seekers that came to the country in 2015 mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan is a further example of progress even if it brought out the racism in our society.

Brotherus considered the anti-refugee atmosphere today in Finland as a phase due to its remote location and history as an independent country.

“It is all a part of a phase that we have to go through,” he said, adding that if we compare the refugee policy of the Visegrád group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), Finland’s refugee policy should not envy the EU.