Article 3 – border control measures must be without prejudice to the rights of
refugees and other people requesting international protection, in particular as
regards the principle of non-refoulement.
Perussuomalaiset (PS)* Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantnanen called herself Tuesday a “tough border lady” on A-studio. After opening two border checkpoints Thursday at Vaalima and Niirala, Rantnan announced they’d be closed again on Friday at 8 pm due to about 200 asylum seekers.
“We have seen an immediate resumption of illegal immigration at the eastern border [and therefore we will close to border again],” Rantanen was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat.
Illegal immigration? Even Yle reporter Juulia Tillaeus at Vaalima, said Russia was allowing “illegal asylum seekers” to go to Finland.
Migrant Tales sent Juulia Tillaeus an email stating that her reporting was biased since there was no such thing as “illegal asylum seekers.” Such terms are used by anti-immigration politicians to discredit and dehumanize asylum seekers.
Send her an email ([email protected]) and ask her to stop labeling asylum seekers wrongly. Ask her to read at least the European Convenion on Human Rights.
The billboard was published om 2015-2016, claiming that 10,000 “illegal” refugees were coming to Finland. The claim that refugees are “illegal” is preposterous since such people have a right to ask for asylum in another country. The claim that refugees are coming to the country “illegally” is a good example of the xenophobia spread by the Finnish media. Source: Iltalehti
After opening the two vborder crossings, the government decided to shut them the following day. Source: Yle News
When Rantanen speaks about asylum seekers, she reflects the ongoing toxic anti-immigration narrative so common in many EU countries.
Even In Finnish politics, the exploitation of xenophobia and racism is emerging as a powerful tool for
political leaders facing economic challenges. This reflection examines the multifaceted approaches used by politicians to strengthen their grip on power.
If Rantanen and the government are to be believed, asylum seekers bring crime, destruction with the aim to live off social welfare and are a threat to national security.
Racial profiling and criminalization tactics are intentionally used to widen social divisions by labelling certain groups with criminality. Contributing to stigmatization and fostering an atmosphere of fear about youth gangs, street gangs and others groups.
Criminalizing and victimizing vulenable people like asylum seekes is profitable since such a toxic message attracts voters. As mentioned previously, it offers a distraction from problems that the government cannot or do not want to solve. Some of these are growing inequality due to a weaker economy.
Write Ruben Andersson and David Keen in The Guardian: “Governments and interior ministries have seen fit, for their own political and institutional reasons, to treat some human movement as a security problem to be solved with force. Instead of looking at the complex drivers of migration – including persistent demand for workers – all politicians had to do was to be seen to address the arrivals.”
As the Finnish-Russian border shuts again until next January, it is clear that the government is at a loss on how to solve the problem. How high of a price does Finland want to pay so parties like the PS, the National Coalition Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats can spread to their voters their xenophobic and get-tough-on-migrants message?
Certainly it would be naive to blame only the PS and Prime Minsiter Petteri Orpo’s govenment for the fear-mongering and demonization of asylum seekers. Central to this reflection is the role of media manipulation and control and giving the story a particular slant that benefit a toxic narrative.
And before considering international repercussions including the impact on diplomatic relations and the global perceptions of Finland as a country that respects and defends human rights, let’s watch in the meantime how politicians like Rantanen pull another rabbit out of the hat of hate.