ETMU Award 2017 to the Right to Live Collective

 

The ETMU Award is granted annually in recognition of a major contribution to the promotion of or research on ethnic relations and international migration in Finland. The ETMU Award 2017 was granted to the Right to Live Collective at the ETMU Days conference in Jyväskylä on October 27, 2017.

The Right to Live collective, through their tireless struggle for fairness in the asylum-seeking and decision-making processes, has highlighted the plight of those seeking refuge in Finland, and in Europe more broadly, and, at the same time, revealed the discriminatory structures underpinning the current asylum policy in Finland.

The collective has systemically acted to place human rights on the agenda of the Finnish and international media. The members of the collective have refused to stay invisible, out of sight – their public protest in Helsinki has given a human face to the often dehumanised migrant other. By doing so, they have forced passers-by to critically think about whether Finland is a state that protects basic human rights regardless of national origin.

In addition, the activists from this group have sought to challenge the actions of the state, as it has endeavoured to deport vulnerable persons to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. In so doing, they have created extensive multi-lingual networks for information sharing amongst communities of asylum seekers around Finland, and connected and mobilised a broad range of support groups from across civil society.

With this award, ETMU wants to highlight the need to challenge the predominant anti-immigration discourse, popularised by powerful actors in our society, and promote social justice. This collective has done just this by emphasising our shared humanity and highlighting racism and injustice in ways accessible to ordinary people.