Scores of stories have been published recently in the Finnish media on how non-white Finns and people with immigrant backgrounds have been harassed and attacked in broad daylight. Even though it is a positive sign that the media has pointed out this worrying trend there is still a lot of work to be done on this front.
It should not come to any surprise that these attacks have something to do with the rise of the Perussuomalaiset in the April 17 election.
I once asked the bloggers who visit Migrant Tales what should be done if one is harassed and attacked in public. Here is one case that happened recently:
An African was on the bus in Jyväskylä and a young man shoved and then hit him on the back. Nobody on the bus reacted. The African walked away shaken from the incident.
After numerous calls to the police, a policeman finally told the African what he should do if he were attacked in public the next time by a stranger.
”I have been on the force for 35 years and my advice is to walk away,” the policeman said. ”It’s not worth (reporting the crime) because we’ll never catch the person. My advice? Just walk away.”
Certainly the walking away part is fine because the victim should do everything possible to get out of harm’s way. We weren’t, however, convinced about not reporting the incident.
Not satisfied with the policeman’s advice, we called the Ombudsman for Minorities. A woman who spoke to us did not have a ready answer. She did, as promised, call back and said we should report the incident. ”It should be reported to the police because they may catch the suspect one day,” she said.
The African decided to call the Jyväskylä police and report the incident.
He recommends you do the same.*
*Update (June 26, 2011): After encouraging the African to get in touch with the police to report the harassment incident, the person decided not to apparently due to fear of the police. We had to call the police a number of times to speak to an offiicial in Pieksämäki who told us that it was better not to report the case because nothing could be done to catch the culprit.
This case shows very clearly why some hate crimes in Finland go unreported.