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Finland Forcefully Deporting Afghan Refugees on Death Flights to Kabul

By Ariyana Love
In an outrageous move by the Finnish government, 10 Afghan refugees were forcefully deported Monday night. Their fate 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. All of these things 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 a plane.
The scene was traumatic and violent. Activists used their bodies as human shields, attempting to block the police vehicles. Police used attack dogs, pepper spray and batons. Several people were injured.

A report appeared on social media, stating the pilot was refusing to fly the plane. The airports fuel company ST1, also refused to fuel the plane. But that didn’t deter authorities who called another Finnish gas company named Neste.
“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.
According to the Director of Kabul airport, H.E. Capt. Hamid Zaher, there were two children removed from the death flight which left Finland Monday night. Were the Finnish authorities lying to people? Perhaps no, since the legal age of adulthood in Afghanistan, is 25. But some of the Afghan youth aboard that flight had arrived in Finland while they were under the age of 18. They had been here for years and were already integrating into the society.
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.
17760240_10154647508433337_5356179851364360248_nOn 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 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 has forcefully deported refugees in this fashion, but they since stopped doing it due to the public outcry in Germany.
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.”
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, which was 4 days later. The man was clearly 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 last year. He died in his room. 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.
While at the refugee demonstration, 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.
From my investigation I found the Afghan people do not make trouble, or break the law here in Finland. Often they wait for a period of years for the asylum decision and in the meantime, they start working, attend school and begin a new life here. But this was nothing to do with humanity and all to do with politics. Recently, Finland struck a deal with the Afghan government who is now signing their consent to the return of refugees. At the moment, Finland is trying to do the same with the Iraqi government, offering money for schools and other monetary assistance.
What right does the Finnish government have to violate the people’s constitution, the human rights of others and international law? Are we witnessing crimes against humanity?

 

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