Over 120 Indians and others (according to the organizers) held peaceful demonstrations simultaneously in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere in Finland on India's 71st Republic Day, 26th January, 2020.
For more than two months, India has been experiencing a wave of protests against a legal amendment to the Citizenship Act that the Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to introduce to grant citizenship to certain immigrant religious minorities while excluding the Muslims.
Critics of this measure argue that it is discriminatory, goes against the secular constitution of India and is part of a nationalist agenda to marginalize Muslims.
Protesters arrived from many cities, including some as far away as Lappeenranta and Tallinn.
They gathered in Finland's main cities to speak out against the Government of India's new citizenship law (CAA 2019) -which they called "discriminatory"-, the upcoming National Register of Citizens (NRC), and "police brutality against peaceful protesters in India".
These demonstrations were also in solidarity with the multiple protests happening across India and the world on India's Republic Day.Protesters marching in the center of Helsinki. Photo: Samujjwal Sahu.
In Helsinki, protesters gathered at Kansalaistori in front of Oodi and had a silent march with banners, posters, and Indian flags past Rautatientori and Aleksanterinkatu, accompanied by police vehicles. The march ended at Senaatintori, followed by speeches explaining the CAA 2019 and NRC and its dangers and the importance of safeguarding India's Constitution and its values of equality, liberty, fraternity, and justice, along with poetry, songs, and slogans.
Then, the protestors collectively read the Preamble of India's Constitution, and the event ended with singing India's national anthem, Jana Gana Mana by Rabindranath Tagore.
In Turku and Tampere
Protests were also held at Yliopistonkatu in Turku and Keskustori in Tampere.
Protesters in Turku. Photo: Induja.
In Turku, the protest began with a talk on India's constitutional values. The Preamble was recited and was followed by speeches, slogans, and songs including the national anthem. Representatives from Amnesty International, Finland, also made speeches in Finnish on the ongoing crackdown on dissent in India.
In Tampere, the protest included chanting slogans in many languages including Hindi, Tamil and Spanish. The Rabindranath Tagore poem, 'Where the Mind is without Fear' and the song 'We Shall Overcome' uplifted spirits. The meeting ended with a reading of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.
The protesters in Tampere. Photo: Ahalya Ganesh.
The protests and silent march attracted attention from curious onlookers, with comments that this was the first time they had seen Indians out on the streets of Finland and across the world in such numbers. The protesters handed out leaflets to the onlookers, explaining their reasons for the protests and what they hoped to achieve by doing this.
The protestors hoped that the CAA (2019) will be revoked, nationwide NRC not be implemented, and peaceful protests and dissent will be allowed and heard. They also thanked the EU Parliament for their upcoming Resolution against the CAA 2019, which will be debated this week.