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4th graders have a ball at Independence Day bash

A record number of children took part in Helsinki’s annual fourth-graders’ Independence Day party on Tuesday.

Itsenäisyysjuhla
Image: Yle

The event gathers pupils from across the city at Finlandia Hall. Children practice dances  and party etiquette throughout the autumn term to prepare for the party, which mimics the formal reception that is normally held each year at the Presidential Palace.

This year that grown-up ball will take place in Tampere, as the president’s official residence is undergoing renovation work. The kids stayed in their normal spot however, and took over Finlandia Hall near Töölönlahti as usual.

It was the 17 time the event was organised, and Helsinki mayor Jussi Pajunen was hosting for the ninth year in a row. Some 5,100 children accepted his invtiation, around 200 more than in 2012.

The diminutive guests were welcomed by a military band, and once inside they got a surprise concert from hop-hop star Elastinen.

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Total objectors - Finland’s prisoners of conscience

Varusmiehiä seisomassa.

Each year in Finland, there are a small number of so-called ‘total objectors’ who refuse both compulsory military service and the option of civilian service. At present Finnish law requires that they are serve a prison sentence of six months. The UN Human Rights Committee has repeatedly condemned the Nordic country's policy in this area and Amnesty International considers Finland's jailed conscientious objectors prisoners of conscience.

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