Finnish neo-fascist violence against Iraq war refugees

This video says about itself:

Finland: Refugee bus attacked while entering Lahti reception centre

25 September 2015

Up to 40 Finnish nationalists threw stones and other missiles at a bus carrying refugees outside a reception centre in the town of Lahti, Friday. The demonstrators – one reportedly dressed up as a Ku Klux Klan member –hurled stones and let off fireworks toward the bus, which was carrying up to 40 asylum seekers, including at least several young children.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Nationalist Finnish protesters throw stones at bus carrying refugees

Government criticises group of between 30-40 demonstrators, including one in KKK costume, who targeted bus carrying asylum seekers from Iraq

Friday 25 September 2015 11.40 BST

Finland’s government has condemned hardline nationalists who threw stones and launched fireworks at a bus of asylum seekers arriving at a reception centre in the southern town of Lahti.

Between 30 and 40 demonstrators – one wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style white robe – waved the Finnish flag and shouted abuse at the bus.

Some demonstrators hurled stones and let off fireworks at the vehicle carrying 40 asylum seekers, including several young children, Finnish television YLE said.

A petrol bomb was thrown at another reception centre in Kouvola, also in southern Finland, police said. No one was thought to be hurt in the incidents.

“The Finnish government strongly condemns last night’s racist protests against asylum seekers who had entered the country,” the government said in a statement. “Violence or the threat of violence is always to be condemned.“

The prime minister, Juha Sipila, this month offered to take in refugees at his home, a move that attracted international attention but also criticism in Finland. …

So far this year more than 13,000 asylum seekers, most of them from Iraq, have come to Finland, compared to just 3,600 in the whole of last year. In recent days, about 500 refugees per day have crossed the Finnish land border in Tornio, near the Arctic Circle, after a long journey through Sweden.

A man dressed as a member of the US-based white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan, waves a Finnish flag (Twitter/@syndicalisms)

Anger after Iraqi refugees arriving in Finland pelted with fireworks, stones. A counter-demonstration is planned to welcome refugees to the small town of Lahti, as police consider bringing further charges: here.

‘NATO regime change warmongering caused refugee crisis’, Finland’s Ahtisaari says

Drowned three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan, dead on the Turkish coast

This photo shows three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the war-destroyed town Kobani, dead on the Turkish coast. Aylan drowned together with his mother, his brother and other Syrian refugees.

Again and again, on this blog there has been sharp well-deserved criticism for President Erdogan of Turkey.

However, even broken clocks indicate the right time twice a day.

Even politicians who are wrong nearly all the time may be right a few times.

On 3 September 2015, it was Erdogan’s turn for that; about refugees.

Another politician criticized deservedly on this blog is former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari.

Today, it is Martti Ahtisaari’s turn to say something worthwhile; also on the refugee tragedy.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

West ‘ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria’s Assad step aside

Exclusive: Senior negotiator describes rejection of alleged proposal – since which time tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced

Julian Borger and Bastien Inzaurralde

Tuesday 15 September 2015 09.20 BST

Russia proposed more than three years ago that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, could step down as part of a peace deal, according to a senior negotiator involved in back-channel discussions at the time.

Former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari said western powers failed to seize on the proposal. Since it was made, in 2012, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions uprooted, causing the world’s gravest refugee crisis since the second world war.

Ahtisaari held talks with envoys from the five permanent members of the UN security council in February 2012. He said that during those discussions, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, laid out a three-point plan, which included a proposal for Assad to cede power at some point after peace talks had started between the regime and the opposition.

But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.

“It was an opportunity lost in 2012,” Ahtisaari said in an interview. …

On 22 February 2012 he was sent to meet the missions of the permanent five nations (the US, Russia, UK, France and China) at UN headquarters in New York by The Elders, a group of former world leaders advocating peace and human rights that has included Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

“The most intriguing was the meeting I had with Vitaly Churkin because I know this guy,” Ahtisaari recalled. “We don’t necessarily agree on many issues but we can talk candidly. I explained what I was doing there and he said: ‘Martti, sit down and I’ll tell you what we should do.’

“He said three things: One – we should not give arms to the opposition. Two – we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three – we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside.”

Churkin declined to comment on what he said had been a “private conversation” with Ahtisaari. The Finnish former president, however, was adamant about the nature of the discussion.

“There was no question because I went back and asked him a second time,” he said, noting that Churkin had just returned from a trip to Moscow and there seemed little doubt he was raising the proposal on behalf of the Kremlin.

Ahtisaari said he passed on the message to the American, British and French missions at the UN, but he said: “Nothing happened because I think all these, and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything.”

While Ahtisaari was still in New York, Kofi Annan was made joint special envoy on Syria for the UN and the Arab League. Ahtisaari said: “Kofi was forced to take up the assignment as special representative. I say forced because I don’t think he was terribly keen. He saw very quickly that no one was supporting anything.”

In June 2012, Annan chaired international talks in Geneva, which agreed a peace plan by which a transitional government would be formed by “mutual consent” of the regime and opposition. However, it soon fell apart over differences on whether Assad should step down. Annan resigned as envoy a little more than a month later, and Assad’s personal fate has been the principal stumbling block to all peace initiatives since then. …

At the time of Ahtisaari’s visit to New York, the death toll from the Syrian conflict was estimated to be about 7,500. The UN believes that toll passed 220,000 at the beginning of this year, and continues to climb. The chaos has led to the rise of Islamic State. Over 11 million Syrians have been forced out of their homes.

“We should have prevented this from happening because this is a self-made disaster, this flow of refugees to our countries in Europe,” Ahtisaari said. “I don’t see any other option but to take good care of these poor people … We are paying the bills we have caused ourselves.”

Euro Birdwatch, 3-4 October 2015

This video says about itself:

Eurobirdwatch 2012: 17000 Barnacle Geese in Joutseno, Finland

8 October 2012

17000 Barnacle Geese fly in Konnunsuo when attacked by a peregrine.

From Birdlife:

Everything you need to know about Euro Birdwatch 2015

By Gert Ottens, Fri, 28/08/2015 – 09:07

On 3 and 4 October, 2015, tens of thousands of eyes all over Europe (and even beyond) will turn to the sky to witness the spectacle of bird migration at BirdLife Europe’s annual Euro Birdwatch.

As the summer and breeding season ends, birds begin to fly to the south of Europe and Africa. This makes it the perfect time for birders and scientists throughout Europe to observe, count and map the birds’ migration routes and migratory behavior. More than 30 BirdLife partner organisations from Europe and Central Asia are expected to participate this year.

But the event, which was first organised in 1993, is not just for professional birdwatchers. National organisations will hold events – which in the past have ranged from birdwatching excursions in national parks and important bird areas, to contests for children to identify birds by their song, and bird fairs – for anyone who is interested.

Euro Birdwatch aims to encourage people of all ages to go observe and enjoy birds, and to show the wonders of bird migration and the necessity of bird and flyway conservation.  It also draws attention to the efforts being made to save endangered bird species and their habitats.

In 2014, 38 countries from Europe and Central Asia took part in Euro Birdwatch, organising 1,184 events, with more than 33,000 people turning out to watch and help count the birds. The numbers, when it comes to the birds, are even more staggering: almost 7.5 million birds were counted last year, the highest in the history of the event.

As further proof of how important Euro Birdwatch is to spread awareness on protecting migrating birds: in the 21 years of its existence, more than 1.1 million people have participated in over 36,000 events to count almost 60 million birds as they fly south for the winter.

Migration counts in each country are organised either through a network of counting stations manned by experienced birdwatchers or through field trips to important bird areas. The numbers are collated by the country’s national BirdLife partner and then passed on to the European centre, which this year is the Netherlands’, Vogelbescherming Nederland. This organisation will publish preliminary results on the evening of 4 October and a full report later on.

If you want to participate, look for your national partner organisation here, then contact them or check on their website for their list of events.

More information, downloads, results and photos of previous Euro Birdwatch events can be found here.

Neo-nazi violence in Finland

This video from Finland says about itself:


3 August 2015

A radical nazi youth movement, called SVL Youth Department took over the Pasila Railway Station in Finland’s capital city Helsinki. It’s supposed that the event was an objection to “We Have a Dream” or “Meillä on Unelmapro-multiculturalism concert, that took place last week.

Finnish politician Olli Immonen is the head of the Suomen Vastarintaliike or “Finnish Resistance Movement”.

Neo-nazi violence … not just in Germany … and in Ukraine.

By Jordan Shilton:

Neo-fascist rally exposes Finnish government’s ties to extreme right

1 September 2015

A rally of around 40 members of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement took place last month in the town of Jyväskylä, resulting in over 30 arrests as the extreme right-wing demonstrators assaulted passers-by and clashed with police.

The group, which espouses white supremacism and a united Nordic nation, attacked three people at a department store, before the group sought to proceed towards the city centre. One of the victims was the plaintiff in a case involving Finnish Resistance movement members who carried out a stabbing in Jyväskylä in 2013, suggesting that the individual was deliberately targeted.

The government responded by calling for a general clampdown on “extremist” organisations, including through the expansion of surveillance programmes. “This is a sign that extremist movements are also rising in Finland. It is clear that we must enhance and increase the monitoring of these organisations,” commented Interior Minister Petteri Orpo.

Five members of the Finnish Resistance Movement have been detained pending charges of violent rioting and possession of firearms. This includes Juusu Tahvanainen, the leader of the group, who has a previous conviction for assaulting a politician during the 2011 election campaign. Two members of the Swedish Resistance Movement, a sister organisation in neighbouring Sweden, are also in custody.

Although the authorities sought to cast the incident as a surprise, the truth is that right-wing extremist sentiments have been stoked by the political establishment, above all the far-right Finns Party, which is currently the second largest party in government.

Just a week before the violent scenes in Jyväskylä, Finns Party MP Olli Immonen caused an uproar with a nationalist and racist online post calling for a struggle to secure Finland for the Finns. Immonen wrote that he was “dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism. This ugly bubble that our enemies live in will soon enough burst into a million little pieces.” He continued, “These are the days that will forever leave a mark on our nation’s future. I have strong belief in my fellow fighters. We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation. The victory will be ours.”

Despite Immonen’s denial that the statement was pre-planned, it came only two days after the anniversary of fascist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s shooting of 69 youth on the Norwegian island of Utøya on July 22, 2011. Police refused to launch a criminal investigation into Immonen’s comments and did not even consider any possible link between his rant and the violent riot that broke out the following Saturday. In a statement released by lead investigator Detective Chief Superintendent Tero Haapala, the police said that Immonen had not targeted a specific group and that he posted comments afterwards to “clarify the content and limit the interpretation” of his ultra-nationalist rant.

Immonen enjoys very public ties with the neo-Nazi group. In June, he posed for a photograph at a ceremony with Finnish Resistance Movement members. After he posted the pictures online, he received merely a verbal warning from the Finns Party parliamentary group leader.

After several days of silence following Immonen’s latest remarks, Finns leader Timo Soini refused to call for any disciplinary action against the MP. “The parliamentary group led by Sampo Terho will decide on that later,” he said. “I think they will go over him with a fine-toothed comb.” Soini dismissed the connection with the Utøya massacre as a “coincidence,” according to Yle, the Finnish public broadcasting company.

Immonen’s latest outburst drew widespread opposition from the population, with over 15,000 gathering in Helsinki for a rally for diversity. Up to a thousand people gathered to demonstrate against racism in Turku on August 8, to coincide with the Finns Party congress held the same day. Finns Party officials were forced to call off a planned rally in the city.

In his address to the party’s 20th anniversary congress, Soini claimed that there was no place for extremists in his organisation. In reality, the party’s ties to right-wing extremists are well known. In late 2013, the Finns were compelled to expel MP James Hirvisaari, who took a picture of a friend performing a Nazi salute at the parliament building and posted it online. In 2012, Hirvisaari defended a proposal by one of his parliamentary aides to mandate that non-Finns wear armbands, to make it easier for the police to identify them.

The Finns entered government for the first time after April’s elections, joining the Centre Party and conservative National Coalition Party (NCP). Soini’s party ran an explicitly xenophobic and nationalist campaign, while the party’s traditional anti-European Union message was toned down.

None of the mainstream parties have raised any criticism of the Finns’ extremist ties. In their reaction to Immonen’s comments, Centre Party leader and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and NCP leader and Finance Minister Alexander Stubb were careful to avoid associating their coalition partner with such reactionary positions.

The strengthening of the extreme right in Finland comes at a time of growing tensions in the region, as the United States seeks to integrate the Nordic countries into its drive to isolate and encircle Russia. Helsinki has taken a series of aggressive military moves over recent months, beginning with the signing of a Nordic defence agreement in April together with the other Scandinavian countries, aimed explicitly at Moscow. In May, the army wrote to reservists giving them instructions on their deployment in the event of war; and in late June it was revealed that rapid deployment units had quietly been established to patrol areas near the 1,300-kilometre border with Russia.

The political establishment views the encouragement of right-wing nationalist sentiments as a useful means of scapegoating immigrants for Finland’s deepening economic crisis. Economic output has contracted for three years in a row, and unemployment currently stands at over 11 percent.

Sipilä, a multi-millionaire and former businessman who is committed to devastating austerity measures and deepening the country’s ties with the Western NATO military alliance, justified bringing the Finns into government with the need to form a strong government to implement its programme. One of his headline policies is the slashing of labour costs, which he has vowed to reduce by 5 percent by 2019. He has threatened an additional €1.5 billion in budget cuts if the trade union bureaucracy does not reach a new labour relations agreement with business. Some measures already announced include the freezing of pensions, cuts to day care programmes, and a reduction in funding for education.

The Centre Party-led government was a staunch supporter of Germany’s hardline position in the negotiations over a deal with the Syriza government in Greece. Finland was one of the countries that backed German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s proposal to temporarily suspend Greece from the eurozone. A government policy document published on the web site of the Finnish parliament in late July declared that, “a sustainable solution for Greece’s financial problems can be found in the option where Greece is temporarily outside the European monetary union.”

While Soini previously opposed further bailouts, he shifted his position and gave his support last week to the final agreement with Athens. Indicating his determination to force through similarly devastating cuts domestically, he justified his about-face by saying that it was more important to keep the current Finnish government in office than to bring it down over the Greek deal.

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Finland establishes rapid response units to patrol Russian border
[28 July 2015]

Sykes’ warbler, first ever in Czech republic

This video is about a Sykes’ warbler in Finland in 2012.

From Tarsiger on Twitter today:

Yesterday’s Booted Warbler reidentified as Sykes’s Warbler, Iduna rama – the 1st for the Czech republic!

Good great egret and eagle news

This is a video from Finland, about a great egret at a river in winter. The river is surrounded by ice and snow, but it still flows; a bit similar to the river of the dipper nest I saw in Finland.

Warden Hans Breeveld reports today from Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands.

There are 171 great egret nests.

This spring, there is at least one eaglet in the sea eagle nest.