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Helsinki police ban neo-Nazi march on Independence Day

Police believe the event organiser is a group with the same active members as the banned Nordic Resistance Movement.

Kohti vapautta! -marssi Helsingissä itsenäisyyspäivänä 6. joulukuuta 2018.
The movement organised a demonstration in Helsinki on Independence Day in 2018. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Helsinki Police department has banned a planned march by the neo-Nazi ‘Towards Freedom’ (or Kohti vapautta in Finnish) Movement in Helsinki city centre on Independence Day.

The movement is seen as a successor to the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL), which was the subject of a temporary banning order by the Supreme Court in March this year. Police believe the PVL and the Towards Freedom Movement have the same active members.

Organisers had indicated to Helsinki police they wanted to march from Narinkkatori in the Kamppi district of downtown Helsinki to the Töölö Sports Hall — a distance of about 2 kilometres — between 2:30 pm and 6pm on Friday December 6, Finnish Independence Day.

However, Helsinki police decided that the procession could not be considered a legitimate and peaceful demonstration within the terms of the constitution, the terms of Finland's Assembly Act, or according to international human rights treaties and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Towards Freedom movement organised a demonstration in the centre of Helsinki on 9 November this year.

The National Bureau of Investigation suspects the movement of engaging in illegal activities, and that the PVL is has continued to operate despite the temporary ban.

In addition to having the same active members, police further believe that the two movements have a common visual identity, the same ideas and objectives, which are pursued with the same slogans. Both organisations also have links on their websites to shops which publish the same material.

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