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1K march for animal rights

Police say more than a thousand protesters took to the streets of Helsinki on Saturday to oppose an animal rights bill that organisations say is woefully insufficient.

The demonstration graphic, which reads "a voice for animals".
The demonstration graphic, which reads "a voice for animals". Image: Animalia ry

Some one thousand people gathered at the Helsinki Railway Square at midday on Saturday to protest the government's proposed animal rights bill.

Rights organisations say the proposal, begun in 2010, is unacceptably lacking and old-fashioned in many of its key policies. Finland's current animal rights legislation is also more than 20 years old.

Animal rights groups say that among the crucial deficiencies of the bill are the lack of monitoring in providing livestock with enough drinking water and a failure to ban either fur farming or furrowing cages for pigs.

"According to a 2016 Special Eurobarometer, 99 percent of Finns consider animal welfare to be important and 90 percent believe the well-being of farmed animals should be better protected. This must be reflected in the new animal welfare law," the Animalia organisation writes on its website.

Politicians critical

Protesters marched along the temporarily cordoned-off Mannerheimintie road shouting chants, including "Shame on you, Finland" and "Stop animal factories". The march concluded at the nearby Kansalaistori square, where several politicians and activists spoke to the crowd ahead of two musical performances.

Speakers from the Finns Party, Greens and Left Alliance all deplored the state of the current animal rights bill, which is being reviewed in Parliament's consultation round.

"This law is a disgrace in its current form," said Greens MP Emma Kari on stage. Her sentiments were also echoed by ex-Culture Minister Paavo Arhinmäki of the Left Alliance and ex-bodybuilder and current Finns Party MP, Kike Elomaa.

The protest was organised by the Finnish Federation of Animal Rights Organisations (SEY), the Animalia association, the Helsinki Society for Animal Protection and the Oikeutta eläimille group ("Justice for Animals").

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