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Far right Independence Day demonstration cancelled

The organisers had previously moved the event from Helsinki to Tampere.

ihmisiä marssilla soihtujen kanssa, joukko mellakkapoliiseja vierellään
Protesters in Helsinki on Independence Day 2019. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

A demonstration by far right organisation Suomi herää (or 'Finland Awakes') planned for Finland’s Independence Day on 6 December has been cancelled after the Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) prohibited public events of more than 10 people in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District.

The event had previously been moved from Helsinki to Tampere after the earlier implementation of similar restrictions by authorities in the capital region.

The cancellation means that Finland is unlikely to see any large-scale demonstrations on Independence Day this year, as planned marches by 612-soihtukulkue (an annual torchlight procession which takes its name from the date of Finnish independence) and Helsinki ilman natseja (Helsinki without Nazis) were also called off.

Last year, Independence Day marches by a number of different groups led to several arrests in Helsinki.

Tommi Kotonen, a research coordinator from the University of Jyväskylä, told the STT news agency that based on preliminary information about the Suomi herää or Finland Awakes event, it can be considered far right and ethno nationalist in nature.

"It could be said that behind this event were elements from the most radical wing of the Finns Party as well as ethno nationalists," Kotonen said.

Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, emphasises ethnic origin as the foundation of a nation, which Kotonen said can be considered racist.

The cancellations come at a time when the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo) is warning that the threat of far-right terrorism in Finland has intensified.

The organisers had announced Tuukka Kuru and Terhi Kiemunki, amongst others, as speakers at the Finland Awakes event, both of whom have ties to the far right Suomen Sisu group.

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