15,000 march in Helsinki anti-racism protest

People demonstrate against racism and fascism in Helsinki, Finland on September 24, 2016 after a counter protester died on a farright demonstration. Around 15,000 people marched in central Helsinki to protest against rising racism and violent right-wing extremism, police said, following the recent death of a man allegedly attacked by a neo-Nazi leader. Jarno Mela / Lehtikuva / AFP

People demonstrate against racism and fascism in Helsinki, Finland on September 24, 2016 after a counter protester died on a farright demonstration. Around 15,000 people marched in central Helsinki to protest against rising racism and violent right-wing extremism, police said, following the recent death of a man allegedly attacked by a neo-Nazi leader.<br />Jarno Mela / Lehtikuva / AFP

Around 15,000 people marched in central Helsinki Saturday to protest against rising racism and violent right-wing extremism, police said, following the recent death of a man allegedly attacked by a neo-Nazi leader.

Helsinki police tweeted that around 15,000 people were taking part in the protest, while thousands attended other demonstrations around the country, including Prime Minister Juha Sipila who joined a march in the central town of Kuopio.

“People are coming out for the right reason, because the rise of violent extremism is a concern to the large majority of Finns,” Sipila told Finnish radio YLE.

Sipila vowed the government would soon present new measures to tackle the problem.

Several much smaller counter-demonstrations were also held in Helsinki, but police kept the groups separated and no clashes were reported.

The main Helsinki protest — organised by a Facebook group which called the demonstration “Peli Poikki!”, or “Stop This Now!” — was organised in the wake of the highly-publicised killing of 28-year-old Jimi Karttunen.

Karttunen was walking past an anti-immigration protest in Helsinki earlier this month when he stopped to spit in the direction of the protesters.

A well-known neo-Nazi leader, Jesse Torniainen, 26, allegedly kicked Karttunen in the chest, knocking him to the ground where he struck his head.

Karttunen died a week later of a cerebral haemorrhage and Torniainen, a central figure in the violent far-right Finnish Resistance Movement according to police has now been remanded in custody suspected of assault and aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

Torniainen has denied any responsibility for Karttunen’s death.

The creator of the Facebook group that called the Helsinki demonstration against discrimination said a “culture of silence… has nurtured the growth of fascism and racism”.

“Violent right-wing extremism has grown stronger and one brave soul that dared to challenge it, has paid the price with his life,” the group wrote on Facebook.

Politically motivated violence is rare in the Nordic country, but far-right groups have become more active since a record 32,500 migrants sought asylum there in 2015.

Volunteer street patrols calling themselves the Soldiers of Odin, with links to neo-Nazis, appeared on the streets of several Finnish towns last year.

In this article:
Anti-racism protestHelsinki


17 Comments
  • Mario López

    One is to challenge opposing ideologies with words and intelligent, principled actions, not spitting on people.

    That said, the violence is unjustifiable as it wasn’t self-defense.

    • Kirsti Era

      He wasn’t spitting on people, but on the ground in front of a neo-Nazi flag. After Nazis’ several violent attacks on people during political meetings etc. this was the one which caused the death. Stay awake everywhere.

      • Mario López

        Kirsti, whether it was on the floor or flag or people, it is *stupid* what he did. Specially when around any far right/left meathead.

        Do I disagree with them? You bet I do. However, when I walk in the streets of Joensuu I do not approach the Odin nutcases and act provocatively around them.

        Do not let your views blind you from common sense.

        • Joni Pelkonen

          You actually accuse the victim? How cowardly is that.

          • Mario López

            Read my first post, Joni. I think Karelians are everything but cowards. You must be a Stadilainen, right? I thought so.

          • Drsanjit Kumar

            I ashamed for your post. Its to ridiculous to support violence. I lived in this country for 2 month, please do not spoil this country high standard.

          • Mario López

            You ashamed for my post? I ashamed for your grammar. We ashamed for misunderstanding. We leave thread.

        • Getaway

          You have to lower yourself to the level what will be understood. Those neo-nazis aren’t the brightest of the bright and some even would’ve ended up in an oven if it were Adolf’s times.

          • Mario López

            Yeah, that is a technique, but I disagree. Our voice and actions have to be to the standard we are demanding from others. If we demand civility, we have to be civil.

        • Kirsti Era

          Well, in Joensuu the demonstration was even called Emme suostu pelkäämään – We refuse to be afraid. It’s true that it’s easier for me as a very white elderly woman to tell racists what I think about them, I’m not an object of racial abuse. But keeping quiet means approving its growth. History of Natzist Germany is worth reading. It started from small aggressive groups.

          • Mario López

            Perhaps you are shielded, yes. Many of us do not have that privilege, though, and have to speak out smartly and through the most civil means possible: classrooms, surveys, voting, etc. And all while setting an example with our behavior.

            I am happy for the demonstrations. What I hope is that we do not forget that the kid who got attacked was stupid. That is not the most effective way of fighting fascism.

  • kansaIainen

    There has been two racist murders in Finland: 1 A romani man stabbed a white Finn to death. 2 Somali men kicked a white Finn to death shouting “we are in command here”.

    • Kirsti Era

      The first case wasn’t a racist murder. Drunken Roma and white have been killing each other for decades, like the drunkards do in Finland. I guess 99% of killing happen because “you took a sip from my bottle”. The other case? No idea, where and when. Guess this info is from the racist websites.
      But violence against Jimi K was political, because he opposed natzis.

      • Sebastian Lindmark

        I think he is talking about the case some time ago when a 17 year old Romani stabbed a Finn saying he did it because he hated white Finns and picked the victim randomly. Motive was 100 % racist. Jimi was an unpredictable drug user, who hit his head in a brawl and was released from hospital 6 days prior his death. Every life matters and every violent act is too much, but I’m 95% sure Torniainen won’t be deemed guilty of manslaughter. Far left might be the cancer of the world, but far right is definitely at least a venerial disease that needs to be cured.

      • amador kester

        Well,, the demonstrations portray all the same that racism and xenophobia are weird, unwelcome strangers in scandinavia. Let other nations worldwide follow suit to demonstrate the popular face of civilization

      • amador kester

        Imperative job for the government– keeping a checking hold on the bottle before it turns to devil as well as reining in xenophobic skinheads. Well, the latter job could perhaps find better help with the psychiatrists and psychologists ( plus law enforcement mechanisms of course) than with govt ministers. One thing more: Europe should also find a way to protect the gypsies from raving xenophobia. For good

    • SquidCap

      1. Crime is not racist if the two parties represent different cultures. We don not have “races” in humans but even in your definition, still holds.
      2. is something that most likely never happened so proof?

      Neither of those were murders but manslaughter; murder is deliberate, intentional act that needs some pre-thought.

      In Jimi Karttunens case is that if this was a typical drunken brawl, it would be just manslaughter. But, since it is politically motivated, it is deliberate act; a political murder. Torniainen has said publicly it many times how he is willing to kill everyne of us who opposes nationalsozialist ideologies, specially targeting “suvakit”, maybe translated best as “the tolerants”: those who dare to actually voice their opinions were to be killed first and.. yup, this is clear cut case of political murder, the target is actually irrelevant as it was also part of motivation; target was random guy who spit on the ground.

Related