Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen (Green) believes that civil disobedience is one way to influence activists, but says protesters must always take responsibility for their actions and that there is no room for violence or vandalism.
Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters took part in the protests "Convoy Finland 2022" protest, blocked the main street in front of the parliament in Helsinki before the police disbanded him. As many as 150 protester vehicles were present, some of which were towed away. Police arrested 55 people during a demonstration on Friday and 15 on Saturday. No arrests were reported on Sunday.
By Niko PyrhönenResearcher at the University of Helsinki, disobedience seems to attract more and more people.
"Blocking the streets, causing a general disturbance and creating some kind of spectacular event is a very effective way of politicizing things and bringing them into the public debate," Pyrhönen points out.
The growing trend
When one group receives attention through civil disobedience, it encourages others to follow suit, according to Pyrhönen.
In December, climate activists from Elokapina’s protest movement, the Finnish branch of the Extinction Rebellion environmental organization, received widespread media attention after blocking traffic on the same main road. This was the group’s last but not the first such activity. Police at the time arrested 38 protesters when they refused to move to another location.
The demonstrations and the disruption they cause divide opinions among the general public. Leading politicians also disagree on how civil disobedience can affect society.
Minister of the Interior Mikkonen sees civil disobedience as an acceptable means of protest within reasonable limits.
"I think it is an acceptable way to act when it is done soberly, in one’s own name and on one’s own face, and everyone takes responsibility for their actions," Mikkonen says.
According to Mikkonen, taking responsibility means accepting that sanctions and penalties result from non-compliance with police regulations or violations of the law.
The opposite view
Vice-Chairman of the Opposition Coalition Party, former Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänenavoids supporting the civil disobedience of protesters.
"Police regulations and the law must always be followed," Häkkänen tells Yle.
According to Häkkänen, Finland has a very extensive legal framework for demonstrations. He believes that this should be enough for the activities of groups such as the supporters of Elokapina and Convoy Finland.
He points out that the police, in turn, have a duty to provide an opportunity to demonstrate within the law.
"In Finland, everyone has the right to protest, but the police also have a duty to ensure the safety of society and the safety of bystanders. Police regulations must therefore be complied with," Häkkänen says.
Häkkänen says he understands that political and social pressures can create a need for protests.
However, he adds "The machinery of democracy makes the decisions, not the cheering of the crowds."
In Häkkänen’s opinion, this must be taken into account when considering demonstrations and the rules governing them.
Source: The Nordic Page