Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers have protested against the deportations of unsuccessful applicants for several weeks in central Helsinki.
Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers have protested against the deportations of unsuccessful applicants for several weeks in central Helsinki.

The threat posed by the far-right protest scheduled to take place in Helsinki on Saturday is being taken seriously, assures the Helsinki Police Department.

“Police officers are, if necessary, prepared to break up the demonstrations in the event that they cause considerable danger to public order and security, to people or to property,” a police spokesperson said in a press release on Thursday.

The protest is being orchestrated on social media with the objective of dismantling the protest camp of asylum seekers that was relocated from the front of Kiasma to Helsinki Railway Square in mid-February.

The organisers of the protest state in the event description that local authorities have until 10 March to dismantle the protest camp. Otherwise, they write, “we will arrive at the site on 11 March, 2017, and make our thoughts known to those who are in the country illegally”. Rumours on social media indicate that the participants will also include people from Estonia and Poland.

One of the organisations advertising the so-called Puhdistus (Eng. purge, cleansing) protest is the Nordic Resistance Movement.

The Helsinki Police Department assures that it has taken the necessary precautions and is monitoring the preparations for the protest. Both police officers and security cameras, it reminds, are monitoring the area constantly.

“We’re aware of the discussion on social media and we’re keeping tabs on how it develops. We’ll take action according to the threat assessment we’ll compile during the week,” Jari Taponen, the chief inspector in charge of preventive action at the police department, told Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday.

The social media debate has picked up in the past couple of days after an asylum seeker attempted to hang himself from a tree at Helsinki Railway Square on Wednesday. The suicide attempt was prevented by bystanders, and the man was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Helsinki Police Department also reminds that it cannot intervene in the long-running protest by asylum seekers or the counter-protest by Suomi Ensin (Eng. Finland first) in central Helsinki unless the protests are deemed to pose a threat threat to public order or security, traffic safety, people or the environment, or if it is asked to do so by the City of Helsinki.

“The City of Helsinki has not asked the police to intervene in the situation, but discussions between the city and police are ongoing,” it says. “The grounds for breaking up an assembly or demonstration must be particularly strong.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva