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Unions concerned over abuse of racism researchers

Unions representing employees in the University of Eastern Finland are concerned over external pressures aimed at restricting their research into racism and multiculturalism.

Itä-Suomen yliopiston logo.
Image: YLE / Janne Ahjopalo

They say the University must have a visible role in combating racism. In a joint statement, the unions state an internationally orientated university should be concerned over increasing racism and a toughening of attitudes in eastern Finland.

Basic values such as academic freedom and justice presuppose that teachers and researchers must be able to actively participate in society.

According to Union representative Antero Puhakka of the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals (JUKO), abuse of university researchers had prompted the statement.

"Our researchers into racism and multiculturalism have been subjected to threats," noted Puhakka. "Anonymous threatening letters have been posted to their homes and researchers have faced abuse on Facebook. Complaints regarding the activities of researchers and teachers have been filed with the vice-chancellor or to a higher authority."

Puhakka adds that the action has been co-ordinated and is aimed at restricting the participation of researchers and teachers in society.

"We emphasize that a policy of zero tolerance must be adopted," Puhakka noted.

According to the statement, meetings discussing racism, multiculturalism and Islam have been disrupted. As a result, some researchers are now reluctant to appear in public.   

The unions remind that the aim of the University of Easter Finland is to promote internationalism and to increase the number of international researchers and students. It calls on the university to secure an acceptable climate in society to permits this.

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