About 100,000 people are expected to join the protest against the government’s cutbacks on Friday morning in Helsinki.
It’s a kind of a climax to the smaller protests of discomfort and objections, which have sent people chanting on the streets of Helsinki during the past weeks. There’s even a citizens’ initiative on the internet, already signed by 38,227 people, demanding that the salaries and the benefits of the members of the parliament are cut drastically (Read more about the subject here).
One of the largest demonstrations gathered about 1,000 people in Helsinki on September 8 in a protest for the development cooperation. The protest, arranged by Kepa ry, the voice for the Finnish civil society organisations, demanded that the government should step back from the cuts from the development aid which total to about 4.3 million euros. The sum equals suffering for over 300,000 people in the poorest countries of the world, including Syria, Eritrea and Myanmar.
“This will not work, Toivakka!” the protesters screamed at Katajanokka, hoping that their voice would pierce the thick walls of the Foreign Ministry, where Leena Toivakka, the minister for foreign trade and development, was sitting.
In order to emphasise the shameful deed, the protesters pulled a paper bag over their head. Red letters on top of the bag said: “I am ashamed.” They also handed a petition for minister Toivakka, which was undersigned by 41,271 people objecting the steep cuts.
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A much smaller, but visually impressive protest was arranged by Joukkovoima (Group Power) network, which gathered a few dozen people in front of the House of the Estates on Wednesday August 9, where the government was supposed to hold its budget negotiations. People held banners demanding justice and there were protesters sitting in cages; in each cage a different representative of the social class who is going to be affected by the cuts, including a student, pensioner, unemployed, homeless . . .
Unfortunately, the shiny building was empty from the members of the government. By the last minute, the budget negotiations were decided to be held on the other side of the city, at the prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta.
“I wish they applied some sense in the cuts,” said Mikael Kinanen, 25, a student from Helsinki, who was sitting behind the bars like an animal.
Kinanen was also surprised that the government decided to change the location of the budget negotiations.
“I think they are afraid of us,” he said, “afraid of a few protesters in a weak position.”