Asylum: Political Parties Preach Peaceful Protests

Finnish political parties give their opinions on civil disobedience and helping undocumented migrants.

File photo: 8-year old Omar packs a suitcase with his mother before the family are resettled in Finland / Credit: UNHCR / Ivor Prickett

Finnish political parties agree that violence is not the right way to protest, as a way to help undocumented migrants.

But according to the Greens Alliance and Left Alliance, civil disobedience can be an acceptable way to help people who have no papers, and have not regularised their legal status in Finland.

Among that group are people who have had their requests and appeals for asylum turned down, and should be removed from the country.

Both the Greens and the Left, however, emphasize that actions should not include violence.

“Civil disobedience can be acceptable if it is a case, for example of people being sent back to their home countries. However, we do not accept violence in any form” says Li Andersson, Chairperson of the Left Alliance.

According to Krista Mikkonen, Chair of the Greens Parliamentary group, the strong merits of a particular asylum application does not guaranteed it will have a fair outcome. According to Mikkonen, many things that are now considered human rights violations, have in the past been seen as acceptable.

“Peaceful, civic disobedience is an acceptable form of influence” she says. “Similarly, the use of force by the police must always be proportionate, and used as little as possible”.

“Dangerous Message for Citizens”

Most of the parliamentary groups said they would agree to help undocumented immigrants under certain conditions, as long as the work of the authorities is not disturbed or blocked in any way.

“We do not accept civil disobedience and incitement. It would undermine the foundation of our legitimate social order and lead to confusion” says Markus Lohi, Vice Chair of the Centre Party parliamentary group.

According to the Finns Party, it is dangerous to let citizens think that laws do not have to be respected, just because they think they’re unfair.

“People have very different ideas of justice. If the law seems unfair, we must tro to change the law. The law is regulated and changed by Parliament in Finland, and the makeup of Parliament can be influenced by elections” says party chair Jussi Halla-aho.

According to the Social Democrats – the largest opposition party in parliament – everyone must respect the rule of law. Joona Räsänen, MP, says the Social Democrats do not encourage civil disobedience. Opposing authorities in this way is not right, but demonstration and legitimate means are allowed.

“Passive and peaceful expression is alright” says Räsänen.

Finnish News Agency STT asked all nine parliamentary groups this week how they feel about helping undocumented migrants, and civil disobedience. The parties responded to the questionnaire mainly via email.