Despite being relatively mildly hit by COVID-19, Finland has seen some of the harshest restrictions in Europe and has been living in a state of emergency for weeks. The towering restrictions have triggered protests, which were subsequently dispersed by the police.
Following the break-up of a demonstation against COVID-19 restrictions, Finnish MP Ano Turtiainen has said that he considers the Finnish police to be like an “enemy during war” and accused the law enforcement of not serving the citizens.
In a scorching Facebook post, the maverick MP, who formed his own one-man party since being expelled from the Finns Party for poking fun at the killing of George Floyd, wrote that in his opinion the police don’t protect the citizens, but rather safeguard the bureaucracy of which they are a part.
“I do not trust the police anymore. I treat them the same way I would deal with the worst enemy during war,” Turtiainen wrote, referring to protests against coronavirus restrictions held in Helsinki last weekend.
Turtiainen suggested that the world is at war and that he doesn’t think that the situation will be resolved “without worse brawls”.
During the weekend’s demonstration organised against the restrictions to combat the coronavirus epidemic, the police brought some 20 people into custody and fined an additional 10 motorists for operating their vehicles in a disturbing manner as part of the demonstration.
According to the Helsinki Police Department, the authorities received no prior notification of the demonstration, as some 300 protesters showed up. As of now, public gatherings of over six people are prohibited as part of the government’s push to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Voicing your opinion is your right, and we’ll do our very best to protect it. We do, however, have to think how public order and safety are preserved and how the instructions and prohibitions are followed. This is why we decided to switch the approach,” Helsinki Police Department deputy police chief Heikki Kopperoinen said, as quoted by the news outlet Helsinki Times. “The principle here is that you have to submit the notification at least 24 hours before the event starts. It can’t be that you show up and give us the notification five minutes before starting. That’d make it impossible for police to react,” he said.
To date, Finland has been relatively mildly hit by COVID-19, with over 82,500 cases and some 870 deaths, but has seen some of the hardest restrictions in Europe and has been living under a state of emergency for weeks.
The government’s draft exit plan, which is dependent on the rollout of vaccines, has promised a gradual re-opening, but Prime Minister Sanna Marin emphasised that spread of the virus is still severe and that restrictions should not be lifted prematurely.