I’m writing to you regarding what happened to me in Vaasa, an innocent travelling student attacked inside McDonald’s, and I want to urge the local police to look into this serious assault on a foreigner.
I left Umeå and took a ferry to Vaasa. I arrived at downtown Vaasa at midnight. As I wanted to take the train to Tampere early the next morning, I decided to stay in a McDonald’s, which was open until 5:00, and then proceed to the train station to catch the early train.
Upon getting permission from the staff at McDonald’s at Vaasa Keskus, I picked a seat in the corner, ordered a bottle of water, and took a nap. At approximately 4:00 I was awaken by some loud talking. Two young men were sitting in front of my table. They spoke to me in Finnish and I asked if they could speak English. I shrugged to show them that I didn’t understand Finnish. Later they addressed me in Finnish again and proceeded trying to talk to me, neglecting my response that I couldn’t understand them at all. Then they stopped.
I checked the time; it was 4 o’clock. Thinking I was about to pass the night soon, I closed my eyes. Less than half a minute later, I felt a sharp pain in my head and opened my eyes, only to find a hardwood chair on the right side of the tabletop.
Realising someone had thrown a chair to my head, I immediately took off my hat, touched my head and saw blood in it. At first I didn’t know who did this. I stood up and asked some young people who did this, none of them replied, as if nothing had happened. Then one staff member came to see what happened, I showed him the wound and asked him to call the police.
Then I looked at the man sitting opposite me, and noticed that the chair next to him was missing. He was the man that threw the chair to my head.
He said something in Finnish, a red-haired girl and a man sitting at the table to the left stood up and talked to him, and calmed him. Then they left and only the man on the left apologised to me, saying: “I’m very sorry for you, my friend he is...”. I stopped him before he left, asking him to tell me the name of the person who attacked me, and I was told they just met this guy at the bar, and his name was Mike.
After 10 minutes, the police arrived with the medical team. They asked me what happened and discussed what to do next. They decided to have the paramedics check and send me to the hospital, and I was quite astonished when one of the police officers said my wound was not very serious and they were wondering if it is okay not to report this assault!
I was transferred to a hospital, and waited for 30 minutes until the doctor came. They took care of my wound but didn’t check my concussion. After the treatment, finally, I was able to have a short sleep on the bed.
After I woke up, I asked the hospital to help me reach the police again. I arrived at the police station at 12:30, and until then, I still hadn’t eaten anything. After debriefing to one of the police officers about what happened, she led me to the waiting room and said the interpreter would arrive at 14:30. So I waited until 14:00, when I felt so hungry that I had to rush to the supermarket and buy some food.
The police explained my rights to me, and asked me to describe the whole attack in detail. Then they asked what my future plans were. I expressed my disappointment at being attacked in Finland, as a foreign tourist. Due to the accident, I had to cancel the rest of my travel plan and get back to my friend’s place in Espoo as soon as possible.
After this assault, I changed my view about Finland. It used to be a safe and peaceful place to me. My friend helped me publicise this attack online and received many comments, from which I noticed that although such attacks are rare, this is not the first time a foreign traveller is attacked on Finnish soil. It could be worse if that impact to my head was lethal, or put me into a coma. And as it appeared to me, when the attack took place those young men were quite sober and fully aware of what they were doing, so being drunk was not an excuse. Why did they do this? And when will the attacker be brought to justice? And why did the police want to downplay this attack? These are all my questions for the local police of Vaasa, and I seriously hope this time they can come up with a more reasonable and more responsible answer.
Yours Faithfully, Junmin Tong
Exchange student at Tallinn University of Technology,
Estonia. Master student from University of Shanghai for
Science and Technology, China