Two international students at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu have been attacked and beaten, in what police are calling a racist incident.
It happened on Tuesday afternoon as the two men were walking through the city’s Vapaudenpuisto – Liberty Park.
Police say the students had no interactions with their assailants before the attack began, and were walking by when they became the subject of racial taunts.
Witnesses say several Finnish people who had been in the park at the time took part in the assault on the students, and police have detained two men and a woman in connection with the attack, which they are investigating as racially motivated.
Police say it’s a rare incident in the city.
“The most recent violent crime in the Joensuu area with a racist motive was in January 2018” says investigator Kimmo Wetterstrand of the Joensuu Police.
“The statistics do not lead to a conclusion that racism has increased in Joensuu” he adds.
University and city react
In the aftermath of the assault, the city’s civic leaders have spoken out against intolerance and racism.
“The City of Joensuu, including its office holders and decision-makers, and the people of Joensuu, have condemned all acts of racism and violence, and they continue to do so also now,” says Joensuu Mayor Kari Karjalainen.
The city’s working group that deals with safety will meet in the coming weeks to look at this issue, and plans to invite university representatives as well.
“We need to be able to guarantee the physical and mental integrity and safety of our residents and visitors, regardless of their nationality” says Karjalainen.
Meanwhile the Rector at the University of Eastern Finland has also issued a strong response, saying that the university community “strongly condemns all racist incidents and attacks”.
“We are also concerned about the atmosphere these kinds of incidents and attacks are creating” says Jukka Mönkkönen.
The university has a zero-tolerance policy for racism.