The Roma family was denied access to the Caravan-Kalajärvi camping site at the end of June in Peräseinäjoki in Southern Ostrobothnia. MTV News reported the incident on Monday.
In connection with the MTV story, there is a video of a conversation with a campsite employee filmed by a Romani woman. The employee says in the video that Roma are not allowed to come to the campsite.
Tuija Mikkola, Chairman of the Board of SF-Caravan Seinäjoki Region, which is behind the Caravan-Kalajärvi camping site, confirms to Ilta-Sanomat that there have been guidelines in force at the campsite to prevent Roma from entering the area. Mikkola has made the decision himself.
The guidelines were introduced because during Midsummer week the campsite had had problems with four Roma caravans. According to Mikkola, these groups had caused disturbances and broken places, so that the authorities had to be called in for help.
Mikkola says that in the case of the Romani family, it was a nasty coincidence.
- The lady was in bad luck that she happened to come after these others who had caused disorder in the area.
Mikkola says that he removed the instructions from the Roma gate ban after he was contacted by MTV News.
According to Mikkola, the guidelines were valid for less than a week.
- I admit it was a wrong instruction. Then the situation led to the fact that I made such a decision to be open-ended, which I have already repaired.
Mikkola does not consider the ban on entry for Roma to be discrimination.
- We do not knowingly discriminate against anyone. The lady now came within a week after such other events, so this was a nasty coincidence. I have discussed the matter with the lady and apologized for the matter.
According to Mikkola, everyone is welcome to the campsite. However, he recalls that everyone must also abide by the rules of order in the region.
According to Tiina Valonen, Chief Inspector of the Equality Ombudsman's Office, the incident at the campsite is clearly discriminatory.
- A situation in which a whole ethnic group is banned and a service is denied because a person with the same ethnic background has caused a nuisance is discriminatory. Giving discriminatory instructions is also discriminatory, Valonen says.
Valonen says that he has been in contact with SF-Caravan's Seinäjoki Region Association's Mikkola and discussed the incident at the campsite.
- We discussed the importance of reviewing the situation in the association's activities and ensuring that there are no discriminatory guidelines in the future. We made sure they were aware of what the prohibition of discrimination means.
The prohibition of discrimination is laid down in the Equality Act. According to Valonen, it is a common problem that people do not understand what the prohibition of discrimination entails.
- Discrimination does not necessarily require a discriminatory purpose. Even if you do not think that you have acted in a discriminatory way, it is already discriminatory to treat you differently because of ethnic origin, for example, without an acceptable reason.
According to Valonen, discrimination is commonplace for many Roma.
- Investigations, contacts with us, criminal reports and convictions show that discrimination against the Roma is regrettably widespread.
There is a lot of discrimination in customer service situations. According to Valonen, discriminatory attitudes and prejudices towards the Roma are also common.
The case of the campsite is a typical example of how Roma are seen more as members of their group than as individuals, says Päivi Majaniemi, project manager of the Finnish Roma Association.
- If one of us does something, then we are all treated the same.
Majaniemi says that he understands that it is unfortunate if customers are disruptive, but that does not justify discrimination.
In his experience, discriminatory attitudes towards Roma in customer service situations are more the rule than the exception.
According to Majaniemi, for example, in shops, Roma are monitored more closely, although the service may not be available otherwise.
- The guards follow with their hocks, but no service is available from the sellers.
Majaniemi cites accommodation services as another example. In hotels, the debit card may be verified by the Roma in advance and payment must also be made in advance.
Majaniemi raises the concept of anti-Sigismism, which translates into anti-Roma in Finnish. According to him, the term is familiar elsewhere in Europe, but it has hardly been used in Finland.
- This is related to the old troll that is not wanted to be raised in Finland, ie that there is racism in Finland.
Another case of discrimination against Roma has also been in the public eye during the summer. In the case, an employee of the Hotel & Spa Resort Järvisydän in Rantasalmi informed the Roma family that the Roma would not be allowed to bathe. This incident was also recorded on video.
Read more: “We made a mistake in customer service” - the Roma party was not allowed into the popular spa, Järvisydän now apologizes
The Equality Ombudsman is currently unable to comment on the events at the spa, as the party to the case has contacted the Equality Ombudsman and the Commissioner has taken note of the matter.
On Monday, the hotel’s CEO apologized for his employee’s use.
- We made a mistake in customer service when we said that the Roma could not get to Järvisydämi. The Roma, like everyone else, can reach us. It was a human error on the part of a worker under great pressure. Immediately after the incident, he found himself saying it wrong. We apologize to those people, CEO Markus Heiskanen wrote to IS.