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Police dismantle Railway Station demo camp

The pro-asylum seeker group "Right to Live" protest encampment near the city’s Central Railway Station has been closed down. Police admit that the protesters had not broken any laws, but cited the "developing security situation" in the city as the reason for the decision.

Turvapaikanhakijoiden Oikeus elää -mielenosoitus Helsingin Rautatientorilla purettiin alkuillasta Helsingissä.
The camp across from the Ateneum Art Museum was cleared away on Friday evening. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

On Friday evening Helsinki police oversaw the shutdown of the pro-asylum seeker "Right to Live" movement's protest camp at the Central Railway Station.

A noisy but peaceful group of 100-150 people protested the dismantling. After the camp was closed, they marched toward the headquarters of the Immigration Service (Migri), some banging on drums and shouting "Shame on Migri!"

They arrived outside the office around 8.30 pm.

Police say that they will not grant permission for any demonstrations with links to camps that have been removed from the area.

"The decision is based on how the security situation in central Helsinki is developing," said deputy police chief Heikki Kopperoinen.

Festival weekend

Kopperoinen notes that this weekend is expected to be one of the busiest in the capital. Several events are scheduled including Helsinki Pride and the Tuska heavy metal festival.

In an attempt to maintain public order, police decided to order the asylum seekers to disperse their camp – although they had not been responsible for any public order disturbances in the area.

Demonstrators set up the camp in February after being moved from a previous location on Citizens' Square near the Helsinki Music Centre.

"They have not broken the law and you can’t point any fingers at them, but police have had to assess the situation in all of Helsinki," the officer explained.

Protesters complying with police order

Group spokesperson Outi Popp said that demonstrators had been disappointed by the police decision to scatter the camp.

"The protest did not cause danger of any kind. We have complied with all of the police orders and suggestions all along," she noted.

The group did not resist the police order, and began to clear the camp.

According to Popp, the asylum seekers will continue their protest action elsewhere. So far the new location is not known as the group will begin discussions on the matter with police and city officials on Monday.

Last Monday, police moved in to remove anti-immigration protesters from the nationalist "Finland First" group, who had not complied with a similar order to dismantle their demonstration camp from the railway station.

Police said that the group had been responsible for a number of breaches of the peace and assaults on passersby.

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