When looking at the pictures of the past year, four words pop into mind: refugees, racism, protests and terrorism.
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Under the umbrella of the three buzzwords, the citizens of our nation of 5,491,694 inhabitants have revealed their true faces – in good and bad.
Finland Today has documented those expressions, sometimes sad, sometimes glee; tens of thousands screaming justice and the right to be free. Free from racism and the government’s cuts targeted against students, employed, unemployed and pensioners.
In July, 15,000 people supporting multiculturalism summoned at the Citizens’ Square in front of the Parliament House. The spark was ignited by the bigoted fantasies of Finns party member, Olli Immonen, who dreamed publicly on Facebook “of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism.”
The protesters of many colours and cultures there on that hot sunny day in July showed Immonen and those racist to the core that bigotry has no place in the 21st century Finland.
The biggest rally of the year was attended by 30,000 at the Railway Square in Helsinki on a Friday in September. The participants represented many social classes, a sample of those hundreds of thousands on strike because of the government’s plans to cut the benefits and wages of employees working in the public sector.
We saw many fingers and red cards being waved in the air. Even if the government believed they were trying to save Finland from sinking deeper into debt, the people had spoken. The “fuck you’s” and “buu’s” echoed at the square. The massive strike crippled the country for a day.
At the same time the influx of refugees was starting to grow exponentially.
The phenomenon ignited several protests demanding closing of the borders from refugees. In the most extreme cases, an occasional idiot dressed in the robes of Ku Klux Klan and some threw Molotov’s cocktails into the refugee centres.
One of the saddest incidents this year was the horrible rape of a 14-year-old girl in Kempele, where the suspect was a refugee who had arrived to the small municipality on the outskirts of Oulu, the capital of Northern Ostrobothnia, just a month before.
The incident caused a racist outrage on social media and in the streets, but many forgot that the suspect was just one. Single. Refugee – of those over 30,000, which have arrived in Finland this year.
During the past year, the anarchists have seen it necessary to oppose, clash and demonstrate against “the racists” – with their own terms.
On the eve of Finland’s Independence Day, for example, the riot police talked less and acted aggressively due to the continuous clashes with anarchists over the year. When the anarchists threw rocks, bottles and signal flares, the police shot with stun guns and chased them with horses and dogs and arrested over 100.
This, however, accomplished very little, if nothing.
The nationalists had made their march legal, with all the necessary documents delivered to the police, so naturally the police was on their side. The anarchists didn’t bother to report much, if anything.
The anarchists, however, walked free the following day; the nationalists marched under the protection of the police force resembling a small army.
Such incidents get a certain amount of media attention but it’s sad how the core message gets lost. The message of the anarchists was buried under their mischievous deeds and people will remember nothing but the trouble.
That was just the cream of the crop of the events that occured in 2015. Those and the rest you’ll find in pictures.
In 2016, we continue explaining the news and events and are prepared to take our reporting to the next level.
Stay with us.
Three and a half year old boy, Jeed, and his mother, Terhi, are holding small light bulbs, which create dreamy images on the windows of Annantalo at the Lux light festival in Helsinki on January 4 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A demonstrator mourning for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the Senate Square in Helsinki, which was the final destination for the commemoration march on January 8 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
About 250 people wrote condolences for the victims of Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper at the front of Helsinki Music Centre on February 11 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Cross-country skiers Iivo Niskanen and Sami Jauhojärvi (back) jump from their chairs after hearing that they were selected as the Athlete of the Year at the Finnish Sports Gala at the Helsinki Arena on Tuesday January 13 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Carl Haglund, the minister of defence, received a report on combating cyber terrorism in Finland at the House of the Estates on Wednesday January 14 2015. Picture. Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Ambassador of Rwanda, Venetia Sebudandi, arrived in Finland to help Finnish tourists to find the African state, which today is blossoming. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The mayor of Helsinki, Jussi Pajunen (left), rector of the University of Helsinki, Jukka Kola, HSL’s managing director, Suvi Rihtniemi and HKL’s managing director, Ville Lehmuskoski, holding the ceremonial nameplate at the renaming ceremony of Kaisaniemi metro station. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Demonstrators march against killing of the endangered wolf population in Finland at the front of the Government Palace in Helsinki on Wednesday, January 28. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, and the countess, Sophie, smiling in a group photo with President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio, late on Monday afternoon at the Presidential Palace on February 2 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Taavi Aas, the deputy mayor of Tallinn, walking after the discussions with Jussi Pajunen, the mayor of Helsinki, about building a rail tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn on Wednesday February 11 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Jim Yong Kim, the president of World Bank, meets with Sirpa Paatero, the minister of international development, at the Government Palace, in Helsinki, Finland on Wednesday, February 11 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A Chinese kungfu practitioner displaying the skills of tiger style at the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Lasipalatsi square in Helsinki on February 11 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Hundreds attendeded the Chinese New Year celebrations. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Anna Abreu posing at the Emma Gala at Barona Arena in Espoo, Finland on Friday, February 27 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Robin’s album ’16’ won the Emma for the most sold album of the year on February 27. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
In the future, smart pants might help people suffering from a temporary injury to walk instead of being bound to a wheelchair. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Sami Helle, the bass player from PKN, hugging his bandmate, the vocalist Kari Aalto, at the YLE studios on Saturday February 28 2015, after the band was announced as the Finnish representative for the Eurovision 2015 song contest. Picture: Romina Danell for Finland Today
Macy Gray’s performance at the Circus nightclub in Helsinki was top-notch on February 28. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
H.M. Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and the Finnish presidential couple, President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio, waving from the balcony of the Presidential Palace to the crowd of a few hundred standing at the Market Square in Helsinki, Finland on Tuesday, March 3 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Queen Silvia and King Gustaf, posing at Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Culture Centre on Wednesday, March 4 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Women observing Robert Mapplethorpe’s photo exhibition at the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki on Thursday March 12 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Ray Stevenson, the British actor known for his roles in various Hollywood action films, posing with his wife, Elisabetta Caraccia, at the invitational premiere of the Finnish action comedy Big Game at Tennispalatsi movie theatre in Helsinki, Finland on March 18 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Helsinki Coffee Festival (the first of it’s kind) opened Friday morning in Kattilahalli on March 20 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Jasper Pääkkönen (left) and Antero Vartia, two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, grew tired of the lack of appealing public saunas in Helsinki and decided to start building their own. The sauna-entrepreneurs are talking about their plans at Jätkasaari, where the sauna will be built, on March 26 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Alexander Stubb, the prime minister of Finland, and Angela Merkel, the federal chancellor of Germany, improving the bilateral relations at the Government Banquet Hall in Helsinki, Finland on Monday March 30 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Groovy rhythms were pumping at the Circus nightclub at the Funky Elephant music festival on April 4 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Lars Vilks, the Swedish caricaturist who is hunted by terrorists visited Finland on April 14 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Minna-Maaria, kissing her husband Juha Sipilä, who became the prime minister after an overwhelming victory in the elections on April 19 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Eva Wahlström, the Finnish professional boxer, became the World Champion after defeating her Argentinian opponent, Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre, at Helsinki Arena on April 25 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
About 80,000 people joined the May Day celebration of crowning Havis Amanda at the Market Square in Helsinki on April 30 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Richard Leakey, one of the world’s most prestigious anthropologists, visiting the Great Hall of Helsinki University on Wednesday April 6 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The government negotiators – Timo Soini, Juha Sipilä and Alexander Stubb – at a press conference after the negotiations of forming a new government had lasted a week in May 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Kari Aalto, the singer from PKN, receiving a big hug from the Finnish rapper Paleface after returning from the Eurovision song contest without a win but with good memories at Piritori in Kallio, Helsinki, on May 24 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Orlando Julius, the Nigerian Afro-funk legend, playing at the World Village Festival at Kaisaniemi park in Helsinki on May 24 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The government negotiator, Juha Sipilä, explaining the social contract at the Government Banquet Hall in Helsinki on May 27 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Jussi Brofeldt, the son of photographer Claire Aho, giving an overview of the SIBELIUS & KUVIA SUOMESTA exhibition on the third floor of the Academic Bookstore in Helsinki on Wednesday, June 3 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Thousands summoned at the Senate Square to demonstrate against the government’s plans to slice the budget for education by 600 million euros on Monday June 15 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The Lamb of God vocalist, Randy Blythe, cooling off before plunging into heated moshing at Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in Helsinki, Finland on June 26 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A heavy metal fan arriving at Tuska, dressed appropriately. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A man observing the brand new Ring Rail at the Tikkurila station on Tuesday June 30. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Ellie Goulding performing at Ruisrock festival in Turku, Finland on July 3 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Ladies enjoying the performance of Ellie Goulding. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
David Feldberg driving the disc at Presidents Cup during the European Open disc golf championships at the DiscGolfPark in Nokia on Wednesday July 15 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The Opening of the Midnight Sun Special during the World Gymnaestrada at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki on July 15 2015. Picture: Morgan Walker for Finland Today
About 15,000 people attended the Meillä on unelma (We Have a Dream) rally at Kansalaistori (Citizens’ Square) on July 28 2015. Picture: Morgan Walker for Finland Today
Nude swimmers ready to plunge into the water at Hietaniemi beach while attempting a Guinness World Record in nude swimming in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday August 5 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A model displaying a pearly white dress during Gloria Fashion Show, the biggest fashion event of the year, at Kattilahalli in Helsinki on September 6 2015. Picture: Rory Barr for Finland Today
A father holding his son at the Citizens’ Square in Helsinki, Finland during a welcoming picnic for the refugees on September 12 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
DJ Premier, the legendary rap DJ, standing behind the turntables at Nosturi, in Helsinki, Finland on Thursday September 10 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A demonstrator giving the finger against the government during the labour protest attended by 30,000 people at the Railway Square in Helsinki, Finland on Friday September 18 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
A skinhead giving a Heil Hitler salute to the opponents of racism next to the Bank of Finland during a protest demanding closing of the borders on September 19 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Sadah Anzi, 39, an asylum seeker from Iraq has been hunted by the terrorists for a decade. Anzi is sitting at the Annex of the Parliament among other Iraqi refugees protesting government’s plans for deportation on October 12 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, ready to start official discussions among others about importing the Finnish education model to Brazil at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on October 20 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Fetish CATZ Indra & Juniper performing at Sexhibition erotic fair at the Cable Factory in Helsinki, Finland on October 31 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Maxim and The Prodigy’s light display at the Helsinki Ice Hall on November 3 2015. Picture: Morgan Walker for Finland Today
Little angels ready to start strolling at the Senate Square during the annual Christmas Parade in Helsinki, Finland on November 22 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Police stopping a van from disturbing the 612 parade on Finland’s Independence Day on December 6 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Robert Helenius, the Finnish heavyweight boxer, delivers a left punch to the jaw of his Canadian-German opponent, Franz Rill at the European heavyweight boxing title fight at Helsinki Arena 20 December 2015. Helenius won the title. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today