By: Ariyana Love
In an outrageous move by the Finnish government, Afghan refugees were abducted and forced onto a Finnair flight back to Kabul, Monday night. There were children on board and the fate for many of those people could easily be death. It was the third such flight to leave this year.
In a flagrant violation of both Finnish and international law, police began carrying out orders of the Finnish government, abducting people on Friday and placing them into detention facilities over the weekend. They were denied access to lawyers and at no time were interpreters present to inform them of what was going to happen. They were also denied access to a priest. These are just a few things which violate the Finnish constitution.
Monday evening, police took the targeted Afghan people from the police station in Pasila, Helsinki, to the Vantaa airport, where they were forced to board the Finnair plane.
The scene was traumatic and violent. Activists used their bodies as human shields, attempting to block the police vehicles. Attack dogs, pepper spray and batons were used by police and several people were injured.
Not wanting to participate in the Finnish authorities criminal activity, the Finnair pilot who was on shift, refused to fly the plane. The airports fuel company ST1, also refused to fuel the plane.
But that didn’t deter authorities who simply called another Finnish gas company. Neste had no problem fueling the plane. Should we expect anything else from a company that uses G4S security in their buildings? G4S being the UK security company that supplies detention facilities for the Israeli regime. Those very facilities are being used to detain and torture Palestinian children.
“Refugees have no rights here. They are not treated as human beings,” explained Meg Sakilayan-Latvala, Project Coordinator at NiceHearts, a multi-cultural community center in Tikkurila, that provides free services for women and refugees.
Meg continued: “police came in the early morning hours and late at night, arresting people like criminals. They took away their cell phones and documents. They were not informed of anything. They were treated just like dogs.”
Eyewitness testimony from Monday nights dramatic events, began to emerge on social media. Activists reported that there were expectant mothers and unaccompanied minors forced to board the death flight to Kabul. Authorities were quick to deny this.
Finnish police were trying to put an Afghan family with an expectant mother who was 36 weeks pregnant on that death flight. Activists saved the family, succeeding to prevent police from forcefully deporting them.
Police abducted the family on Friday and kept them at the Joutseno Detention Facility in East Finland, where they waited deportation, uninformed of their rights. The family’s 11-year-old daughter was forced to be a translator during the whole ordeal.
When asked if the Finnish police had violated their constitution, Päivi Nerg the Finnish Undersecratary for the Minister of Interior, had this to say: “Officials did what they had to do. Police are doing a good job. No comment on that. Police were given exact instructions how to do their job. If a mistake happened, it happened. If police made mistakes, they should correct it.”
According to international law, a pregnant woman in her last trimester must have a Doctors written permission to fly in an airplane, since the flight itself is enough to kill her and her unborn child.
The following day, on Tuesday, the Helsinki Sonamat reported the Finnish police statement where they admitted they “may have made a mistake with the family of the expectant mother.” They also said there were no underage children on the death flight, that everyone was between 18-60 years of age. Eye witnesses said the police are lying.
According to the Director of Kabul airport, H.E. Capt. Hamid Zaher, there were two children removed from the Finnair death flight which left Finland Monday night, proving the Finnish authorities are indeed lying to the public. This is going to be a big shock to a lot of Finns, who blindly believe their authorities would never lie to them. For decades, the Finnish government was famously known as one of the least corrupt governments in the world.
Spokeperson Päivi Nerg commented, “There is no criteria to consider separately weather the person being deported is a child or a pregnant woman.”
Underage children can be denied asylum since EU countries do not have any laws protecting the rights of refugee children.
On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters gathered at Citizens Square in the heart of Helsinki to protest the unconstitutional asylum policies. Last year Finland changed its guidance for assessing asylum applications from Somali, Iraqi and Afghan nationals, making it easier to reject asylum claims and therefore to deport people to those countries.
The Finnish government, which is presently controlled by a right wing party, has publicly stated that Afghanistan is safe, however prohibits Finnish citizens from traveling there due to “safety concerns.”
The message is clear. Finnish citizens lives have more value than refugees, who are less than human.
Not all Finnish politicians support the government’s illegal deportations.
Paavo Arhimäki stated in a Facebook post:
“The biggest question now is can we force people to return to a country that is unsafe? I asked many people in the Finnish government if they can assure the people on that flight are safe to return to Kabul. According to Yle news, the people implementing the forced deportation said nobody knows what kind of circumstances these people have to face when they arrive in Afghanistan.”
Just four days earlier, on the 29th of March, the Finnish government deported another plane load of Afghan refugees. This Finnair death flight, which stopped in Gatenburg, then Vienna, before reaching it’s final destination in Kabul, was paid for by Finland, Sweden and Germany. Germany is the only other country that forced deportation in this fashion but they since stopped doing it due to the public outcry in Germany.
The Afghan people do not make trouble here in Finland and they integrate quite well into the society. Many of the Afghan refugees are already integrated into the Finnish society and some of the deported children were born in Finland, speaking fluent Finnish. Often they wait for a period of years for the asylum decision and in the meantime, they begin working, attend school and begin a new life here.
There are presently 32,000 refugees in Finland. The majority are from Iraq. With the 15,000 Iraqi refugees in Finland this year, only 1500 of them were granted asylum. This is not even one fourth the amount that other EU countries are accepting. In fact, I was astonished to discover during my investigation, that Finland is violating refugee rights more than any other country in the EU! This means Finland is most definitely denying asylum to people who really need it.
For the past 52 days, there has been a 24-hour protest in the center of Helsinki, next to the central railway station. Refugees organized the demonstration, calling for a stop to illegal deportations and stating, “We have a right to live.”
While interviewing refugees yesterday, I was informed that many of the Iraqi’s denied asylum by the Finnish authorities and deported back to Iraq, have been brutally killed. The refugees provided evidence of their deaths to the authorities, including video footage. But authorities do not care.
I have been investigating Finland’s poor response to the refugee crisis for months. I witnessed a supervisor in one of the refugee camps in Espoo, medically torturing a man right in front of me.
Knowing that I am a journalist, it did not stop her from denying medical care to the Afghan man who pleaded with her to let him see a Doctor. He was in terrible pain and had requested to be allowed to visit to the hospital multiple times already. She told him to wait until the nurse returned the following week. The man was devastated.
Ironically, I was at the camp, investigating a case of medical neglect by that same supervisor, which had resulted in the death of a refugee man who was denied medical attention. He died in his room after being denied medical attention.
Although police reports were made by other refugees in the camp, police did not carry out an investigation into his death. The supervisor was simply transferred to a different camp and then returned a couple months later.
I spoke with a Finnish nurse who volunteers with a team of Doctors that provide free medical care to low income people. She confirmed that refugees are being treated less than animals and there is no protection for them.
I have been interviewing and documenting both Iraqi and Afghan refugee stories. They are so traumatic that if the world knew what they have had to suffer at the hands of Western governments, we would not be rejecting them with criminal intolerance.
What right does the Finnish government have to violate the people’s constitution, the human rights of others and international law?
Every one of the refugees I spoke to who were given negative decisions, had solid proof their lives are in serious danger in their own country. Deporting them is a crime against humanity. The politicians responsible for making these decisions are responsible for murder and they should be held accountable.
About the Author: Ariyana Love is a Journalist and Executive Director of TLB’s Middle East Rising Project. She is also CEO & Founder of a non profit, Jerusalem’s Gold, responsible for exporting olive oil from the West Bank of Palestine as well as a Holistic Health and Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Medics Index.
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