Translation of the Speech of the Free Movement in the Demonstration Helsinki without Nazis 6.12.2022
Finland’s asylum policy is a policy of death and state violence. Our asylum bureaucracy is thoroughly racist and reproduces colonialism. The right to seek asylum at the state border is a human right, and the right to life belongs to everyone without exception. Politicians across party lines praise the importance of human rights, while Europe does everything it can to try to prevent people from outside Europe from seeking asylum. Illegal and life-threatening push-backs are taking place in Greek territorial waters, as maritime guards push back asylum seekers arriving by boat from Turkey and Africa. In the last two years, more than 40,000 migrants have been pushed back from Greek waters. The Mediterranean is the mass grave of the 21st century.
Last winter, Belarus allowed thousands of people fleeing war to cross the borders of Poland and Lithuania to seek asylum in Europe. However, the migrants were denied the right to seek asylum and were abandoned in border forests without protection. At the same time, local border authorities and the European border agency Frontex, currently under investigation for human rights violations, punished activists providing humanitarian aid and took food from the mouths of refugees as part of their fascist operation.
The capitalist and white supremacist logic prevents the Finnish state from seeing a reality other than its own and from responding to people’s distress. The treatment of the Kurds is a glaring example of this. Some of the Kurdish allies turned their backs on the Kurds as soon as they no longer needed them in the fight against Isis. There is a danger that Finland and Sweden are ready to sacrifice Kurdish people to the authoritarian Turkish government in the name of Finnish and Swedish self-interest and security. Fundamental and human rights must not and cannot be ignored for the sake of foreign policy objectives, otherwise we will be acting in the same way as the Turkish and Russian regimes that are violently silencing the opposition. Last week, this fear was realized as Sweden forcibly returned a Kurdish man seeking asylum to Turkey. The man ended up straight in jail from Istanbul airport. It remains to be seen whether the unconditional principle of non-refoulement was violated in the deportation. In Finland, the same game of questioning Kurdish political activity has begun behind the scenes.
While building security for Finns, the state leadership is demonizing others as threats. The most grotesque symbol of borders is the European desire to build physical border fences. Border policies, walls and surveillance technologies reproduce and construct racist and imperialist logic, dividing people into useful and useless, wanted and unwanted. The total length of the border fences built in Europe has increased from 300 km to 2000 km in a short period of time.
Finland’s hastily planned border fence on its eastern border is a destructive part of the construction of Fortress Europe. Research and experience show that border fences do not stop the movement of people fleeing in distress, but add to their human suffering. The Free Movement network is already aware of a case where a person without a visa was forced to flee from Russia dangerously through the forests of the eastern border to Finland, where he was granted asylum two weeks ago.
In Europe, there is a perception that security and the right to life belong only to the few. Finland selectively welcomes only some of those seeking safety. At the same time, it tries to keep people from the Global South out altogether. Finland’s unreliable asylum system places those who are left undocumented in a state of endless uncertainty. Constant fear of deportation and years of limbo in the asylum process strangle people in a space between death and waiting. Immigration is stealing their future and their dreams.
In the summer of 2021, the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan was a shock also in Finland, and the Finnish Immigration Service itself urged Afghans already here to seek asylum in Finland. Now, one year later, the voice of the Finnish Immigration Service’s country information is different. It says that Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is no longer seen as too dangerous a country to return people seeking asylum. According to data from the Free Movement network, this autumn Afghans have been given negative asylum decisions or only short-term residence permits, leaving them in an inhumane limbo.
As Europe builds ever higher walls on its borders, the effects of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly deadly, especially in the Global South. In Iraq, for example, drought and the damming of its major rivers to supply Turkey and Europe with hydroelectricity is threatening the water and food supply of at least 7 million people. The countries and people most affected by the ecocrisis have contributed least to its creation. Europe has been exploiting the resources of the Global South for the last 500 years through colonial policies and continues to do so. Now it is closing the borders in front of the people whose vital resources it has stolen. This is white supremacy at its most clearest.
We are here to oppose nazis, but the nazis are not the only ones who commit lethal and racist violence: the Finnish authorities, the border guards, the police and Frontex are already doing it. It is not enough just to oppose nazis, we must also oppose the racist and Eurocentric narrative on migration that is normalised by the Finnish media. The way we talk about migration must be turned upside down. Europe and Finland within it are responsible for many of the reasons why some people are forced to migrate from the countries most affected by the climate crisis to Europe. The time has finally come to compensate for these losses. Defending free movement for all people is not about helping or even about solidarity – it is about finally compensating the people affected for the damage caused by hundreds of years of colonial exploitation of the Global North.
Our task now is to build bridges of solidarity, not fences of selfishness. This has been shown to be possible with the people fleeing Ukraine, where we proved our capacity for solidarity, for welcoming people and for sharing resources. This same mentality must be extended to all people, regardless of color, country of origin, gender or religion. There are enough resources on this planet to ensure a decent life for everyone, as long as these resources are shared equally. The struggles of the working class, the poor and migrants are common. Let us not fall for the right-wing attempts to build a divide between the working class and migrants, but continue the struggle as a united front for equality, autonomy and resource sharing.
Together we will win the fight against oppression and fascism and open borders for everyone!