In June, a member of the Finn’s Party has called for the sterilisation of African immigrants, and it seems that there will be an inquiry with a possibility of a conviction for the author of this extremely racist speech.
In June also, the chair of the Finns Party parliamentary group, Sampo Terho, has cautioned fellow MP Olli Immonen for posting a photograph showing himself among a group of far-right neo-Nazi group called the Finnish Resistance Movement (in Finnish Suomen Vastarintaliike), but no sanctions were taken, which reignited long-running criticism that those at the top of the Finns Party should take a tougher line on MPs who demonstrate extreme-right affiliations or make racist comments. There had been a precedent when one of the leaders of the Finns’ Party, Jussi Halla-Aho, now member of the European parliament, was making racist statements on his blog, was convicted in court (including in appeal to the supreme Court), and was still not excluded or punished by his party.
Some days ago, at the end of July, forty representatives of the national socialist Finnish Resistance Movement (again) demonstrated in the city of Jyväskylä. It became a riot when they begun to attack people in the streets and in shops, and a number of them are in prison and going to be judged for this insane act of violence.
During the same period, the Finns’ Party which is reaching the adult age of 20 years decided to cancel a public celebration event in Turku, fearing violence, which is absolutely new in peaceful Finland, and is a denial of democracy. How could we be in a situation in a democratic country where an official party cannot organise a celebration, even if there would have been a demonstration? Some will argue that the same Immonen photographed with neo-Nazis has provoked a strong emotion in the after his declaration of war to multiculturalism, but the leader of the party would have avoided all this by strongly condemning Immonen’s declaration and announcing sanctions against him and requesting public excuses. But, still, the Finns Party celebration should have taken place peacefully.
Yesterday, we learnt that street patrols are organised in the city of Oulu by the same neo-Nazi Finnish National Resistance Movement that acted in Jyväskylä. The result is that it is terrorising people of foreign origin and increasing tension further. The police have labelled the patrols as “unnecessary”, but has not intervened, and the Mayor of Oulu was obliged to admit the existence of anti-immigrant groupings, which is not very good sign for a town which wants to develop its economy in a global world . I would think twice before developing a business in such a town, even if I am quite fond of Oulu.
Then it is not surprising that after the rape three days ago of a 15-year-old girl in Oulu’s Rajakylä district, YLE indicated today that some people were using social media to spread misleading information that the rapists were from a foreign background, even if according to police the perpetrators were Finns from a non-immigrant background.
YLE news indicates also in the same article an opinion by Professor of Sociology at Oulu University Vesa Puuronen. He believes that the attempt to instigate ultranationalist sentiments has continued in Finland for fifteen years and starts bringing the results we see now. It seems that during the past week there have been reports about gun crimes and rape cases allegedly involving immigrants, and as indicated by Vesa Puuronen, “those prone to racism often make generalizations on the basis of isolated cases, and then some people can take that as a proof that immigrants are a danger to Finnish society,” he said.
All these news can be put in parallel with the same ones regarding Jews in Germany around 1930, when the Nazi party was rising. The party itself was in general behaving more or less democratically, but there were a number of incidents used to stigmatise the Jews, which at the end was making it easy for the Nazi party in power to justify sanctions against this specific population. There has been some people in the party supporting illegal actions, but the party was not supporting them officially. There has been patrols organised by the Nazis (SA) in certain towns, in order to “protect the population”, and it has led to incidents and riots. If you replace “Jews” with “immigrants”, you may see the same methods used now in Finland by the neo-Nazis.
In addition, the Finnish Resistance Movement is sufficiently dangerous to be monitored by the Finnish Security services, SUPO, and is classified by the US-based International security think-tank Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) as a Racist Terrorist Group and as an Extremist Right Wing Terrorist Group. Supo estimated in 2013 that there were around twenty extremist groups currently operating in Finland, the Finnish resistance Movement being the most important.They believe membership to total several dozen persons, ant their membership and activities are on the increase. In 2013, Tuomas Portaankorva, Chief Superintendent at Supo, indicated that ”Even if we say that membership numbers are small, it does not mean that we are underrating the phenomena”.
Finland today is not Germany in the thirties, and the populist Finns Party, is not the Nazi party. However, these recent events show that there are party members who are very near the neo-Nazi groups, which have the same behaviour and use the same methods in terms of propaganda as the Nazis in the thirties. This has begun a process which is destabilising a strong, peaceful and friendly country, needing to unite and work as one in order to face financial and economic difficulties and a dangerous international situation at its borders. So the least expected from the leaders of the parties of the coalition governing Finland, and in particular from Timo Soini and Juha Sipilä, is that they react with strength in order to avoid the development of a dangerous and weakening evolution. Letting things go is not going to make the problem disappear.