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Helsinki police shut down anti-immigration protesters’ camp over security concerns

Helsinki police are evicting anti-immigration demonstrators from their makeshift encampment at Helsinki’s Central Railway Station. Police said that the "Finland First" (Suomi Ensin) protesters were ordered to leave the area by 6.00pm Monday following cases in which passersby were allegedly assaulted by members of the group.

Maahanmuuttokriittinen Suomi ensin -mielenosoitusleiri Maailma kylässä -festivaalin liepeillä Rautatientorilla Helsingissä.
Police have given the anti-immigration demonstrators until 6.00pm Monday to pack up and move out. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Helsinki police department’s chief inspector Jari Taponen confirmed on Monday afternoon that a camp occupied by Finland First (Suomi Ensin) anti-immigration protesters would be shut down by 6.00pm Monday.

Supporters of the nationalist movement have been occupying a space near the centrally located railway station since February.

Police said that the demonstrators are posing an immediate risk to people’s safety. As a result they said that there is no other alternative but to shut down the protest camp.

"The demonstrators are suspected of assaulting several passersby at the Central Railway Station. Of course this has happened before, but over the weekend there were three different cases in which the protesters have assaulted onlookers," Taponen disclosed.

According to Taponen, another reason for the crackdown is that the demonstrators have acted illegally. Ten days ago police served the group with written directives on how to improve public order and safety practices.

"They have not observed the guidelines," he noted.

Asylum seeker demo to stay put

Meanwhile another protester camp manned by rejected asylum seekers has been allowed to stay in place.

"With them everything has been peaceful and they have not caused any disturbances in the surroundings," Taponen said.

He clarified that the asylum seekers were not the targets of assaults by the anti-immigration protesters.

The police inspector said that the Finland First protesters were not satisfied with the police decision to break up their camp.

"Let’s hope that everything goes as agreed," Taponen concluded.

Established as an NGO in July 2016, Finland First is a nationalist movement that now aspires to become a formal political party. Its platform includes restoring Finnish independence by breaking with the European Union and its single currency and returning to the Finnish mark, closing the border to undocumented migrants and deporting those who are already in the country.

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