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Asylum seekers’ protest camp was being dismantled at Helsinki Railway Square on 30 June, 2017.
Asylum seekers’ protest camp was being dismantled at Helsinki Railway Square on 30 June, 2017.

 

Law enforcement authorities have taken action to alleviate bubbling tensions between two groups of protesters in downtown Helsinki.

The Helsinki Police Department announced it will shut down the long-running protest of unsuccessful asylum seekers at Helsinki Railway Square on Friday, only a few days after the anti-immigrant counter-protesters were ordered to vacate the square.

“The decision was made on grounds of security considerations. The reason was the recent unrest at Helsinki Railway Square,” Heikki Kopperoinen, the deputy chief of police at the Helsinki Police Department, explained in a press release.

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No further demonstrations will be allowed to take place at the square or in its immediate vicinity for the time being, according to the press release.

The equally long-running counter-protest – organised by a nationalist group called Suomi Ensin (Eng. Finland First) – was shut down over security concerns on Monday. Some of the protesters are suspected of involvement in a number of assaults that have taken place at and around the square during the course of the spring.

“The protest had posed an immediate threat to the safety of citizens, and its organiser had failed to comply with an earlier police order to safeguard public order and safety,” a police spokesperson reiterated on Friday.

The Helsinki Police Department also revealed that it has submitted new ground rules for the organisers of the other protest, Oikeus Elää (Eng. The Right to Live). Any future protests, it stated, will have to take place between 8am and 9pm.

“No protesting will be allowed between 9pm and 8am,” its spokesperson said.

Outi Popp, a spokesperson for Oikeus Elää, says she is unconvinced by the arguments of the law enforcement authorities, pointing out that the decision to shut down the asylum seekers’ protest was made on grounds of unspecified security threats.

“The decision was made on grounds of sections 10 and 20 of the assembly act. The police also said the asylum seekers’ protest has caused no threat, impediment or disturbance to the residents, environment and property of the city during the 141 days [the protest lasted],” highlighted Popp.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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