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Deportation cancelled after protests at Helsinki Airport

Finnish police abandoned an attempted deportation on Monday after dozens of people turned up at the airport to protest against the removal. Activists say the flight captain also decided to remove the deportee after objections from a passenger.

Mielenosoittajia Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
Protesters turned up at Helsinki Airport to try and stop a deportation on Monday evening. Image: Ville Vedenpää / Yle

Finnish police were forced to abandon an attempt to deport a woman to Iraq on Monday evening, according to activists, after she was removed from the plane by the captain.

"This is the deportation of a 24-year-old woman," said Harri Simolin of the Stop deportations group. "She was asked to go to Raisio police station on Sunday. Then she was detained and told she'd be deported on Monday."

Protest organiser Outi Popp claimed that the deportation was cancelled when the woman was removed from the plane.

"She shouted so loudly on the plane," said Popp. "She said that she was so scared for her life that she began to scream on the plane."

Objections on the plane

Popp said she'd spoken to the Iraqi woman on the phone via an interpreter on Monday evening. According to Popp one passenger on the plane had also objected to the deportation and asked to speak to the captain.

"The captain did not turn up, but once the shouting had gone on long enough a police official arrived and cancelled the deportation," said Popp.

Police confirmed that a deportation operation was cancelled at Helsinki Airport on Monday evening, but declined to give any more details.

"Police were engaged in a deportation at Helsinki-Vantaa airport," said Joonas Tikka of southwest Finland police. "The operation was cancelled and the individual was not deported. The flight left without police and without the deportee."

New attempt soon?

Tikka refused to comment on this specific case, citing international rules on confidentiality, but explained on a general level that the captain makes all decisions about who is allowed on a plane.

"His word is the law on this," said Tikka. "If there are hundreds of paying passengers on board, then the captain decides that this behaviour disturbing the rest of the passengers isn't going to continue, and then the deportee is removed. That's on a general level."

Tikka said that the police can also interrupt a deportation and switch to a different date or method.

Outi Popp said that the Iraqi woman had been told the authorities will try again to remove her in two days' time.

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