About 40 police officers emptied the makeshift camp set up by Romanian Roma in the Kalasatama area of Helsinki on Tuesday.
In the massive operation, up to seven police cars surrounded the Satama Social Centre. The centre’s door was broken down, and police officers in riot gear climbed on the roof of the building. Police dogs and a police bus were also on hand, says a Helsingin Sanomat journalist who was on the spot.
The approximately 30 Roma who were there were given an hour to vacate the area. A leaflet written in Romanian instructed the Roma to go to the day centre maintained by the Deaconess Centre, where further information would be available to them.
The City of Helsinki is not offering accommodations.
“They have been instructed over the past two weeks to set up camp at a camping ground at their own expense, or to contact their embassy or the day centre. The main policy line is that the city is not arranging accommodation for them, and that they must get by on their own”, says Jarmo Räihä of the Helsinki Social Services department.
The Roma left the area peacefully. They had not been notified of the exact eviction day in advance.
“We have no place to go. We were given an hour to leave, but we have no car or any possibility to take our things with us”, said Regina, whose comments were translated by Keiju Oksanen, a Satama activist. Regina said that she had lived at Satama for over a year.
Oksanen said that not all of the Roma who had been living in the centre were present during the eviction, and their goods were left behind. They are to be taken away. Some cars and caravans were also left behind the fence that is being put up. They are to be towed away by the City of Helsinki.
The Public Works Department of the City of Helsinki has started putting up a fence around the social centre. The area is to be cleaned, and the Satama building is to be demolished starting on Wednesday.