The Government's statement on tackling racism and promoting equality in Finland, published yesterday, gives the impression that the Government has the will to tackle racism and discrimination. The statement also contains good things, such as the launch of a development programme for equality and non-discrimination covering the entire education system for 2024–2025. However, many of the entries are on a very general level, and the criminalisation of hate speech or structural racism, for example, are not mentioned directly.
Nor does the Government's statement remove the fact that the Government Programme is still hostile to immigration. The economy and benefits to society seem to be the measure of the immigrant's dignity for the government, even after this statement. A truly equal, non-discriminatory and racist-free Finland will not be achieved with a programme that is anti-immigration and divides people into different classes.
"The promising writings on equality in the statement will fall short of credibility if, at the same time, immigration policy is tightened and divided more strongly into economically viable and others. The communication does not make any promise that the immigration policy of the Government Programme will change," says Elina Helmanen, Executive Director of Familia ry.
The government seems to remain committed to making life more difficult for multicultural families by tightening the conditions for residence permits, family reunification and health services for undocumented persons. All of these weaken social inclusion, even though the Government Programme includes a desire to strengthen the inclusion of immigrants. Finland must be a good country for everyone to live in, and integration and attachment to society are promoted by people feeling part of society. This cannot be achieved through discriminatory political decisions.
The statement's commitment to increasing people's participation in society is empty rhetoric if, at the same time, policies are implemented that undermine the possibility of participation and full membership. Even after this statement, an intercultural family can ask whether it is possible to trust that Finland is a good country for families and whether one's own family is one that is socially accepted in Finland.
When the Government starts implementing the measures it has proposed, it is important that human rights, anti-racism and immigrant organisations are also involved in the preparations and discussions. The expert consultations that paved the way for the current communication excluded many relevant anti-racism and immigrant organisations that work against racism on a daily basis at grassroots level.
"Although yesterday's government statement was issued under duress, it was much needed. Only concrete actions will speak for themselves whether the Government is committed to equality and the promotion of a society free from racism. This is just the beginning," Helmanen says.
Elina Helmanen, Executive Director, Familia ry email@example.com
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Ajatuksia ja kokemuksia elämästä kahden kulttuurin keskellä.
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