Non-violent Animal Defender
Joni Purmonen, a 21 year old student of philosophy and environmental politics in Tampere feels that more and more young people today no longer accept the roles laid out for them as producers and consumers. Nor do they accept the role animals play as raw material in the economy of modern society. Because decision makers don’t seem to hear these voices, young people with a conscious are left to take direct action by practicing civil disobedience or even sabotage. Purmonen comments, “My generation isn’t chaining itself to tractors in the forest any more. We go to Valintatalo, buy a kilo of sugar and pour it in the tractor’s gas tank.”
Purmonen, however, wants to clearly separate his environmental group Oikeutta Eläimille (Rights for Animals) from other groups that practice violent methods. Rights for Animals works for radical change through peaceful means, “We work within the bounds of civil disobedience. It’s a long way from there to breaking windows.”
Like other groups which have surfaced in Finnish news recently, Purmonen’s group has chosen fox farming as its target. “Fox farming is a good example of the attitudes we are fighting against: the Western society’s subordinating and materializing stance towards animals.” Eliminating fox farming is also a realistic goal, compared with the discontinuation of the entire livestock economy, for example, as it is already prohibited in several countries. Were fox farming eventually banished from Finland, Purmonen feels the livestock industry in its current form would be next on the list. “I feel that any kind of animal exploitation is unnecessary and needn’t be accepted. No animal products are necessary for human survival. Not to mention that a diet based on meat is ecologically unsustainable.”
By Jarno Forssell
Vegan Fight Animal Exploitation
Tuomas Naakka and Jussi Ahlroth are activists in the Vegan interest group of the Finnish Student Union (HYY) and are ready to recommend their diet to others. “Rejecting products from the animal kingdom brings a good feeling both to the people that choose to do it and to animals. The only ones who lose out are the meat producing industries.” Vegans follow a way of life in which all products of the animal kingdom are avoided: meat, fish, milk products, eggs and leather.
Tuomas, 23, became a vegan three years ago after having previously been a lacto-vegetarian. Jussi, 22, made the same transition a year and a half ago, “Eating at home isn’t any more difficult than it was before, but now I make more things from scratch.” Both found cheese the hardest food to give up and still wear their old leather shoes – but don’t plan to buy new ones when they wear out.
Vegans base their choice of diet on the suffering of animals. “Even though an animal has lived a good life, killing for food is wrong. Animals should be allowed to exist in their own state,” explains Jussi. To vegans, the presence of a central nervous system determines whether something is capable of suffering. “A plant is also living, but only an animal feels pain.” Some may counter that animals eat other animals, but Tuomas and Jussi feel that, “Humans, in contrast to other animals, feel responsibility and are able to understand the results of their actions. We are separated from animals by our morality. We can choose to eat plants or other animals.”
Hyy vegans was founded a year ago to represent vegetarians in the University. The group’s twenty-odd members work to increase the amount of vegetarian alternatives in University cafeterias and distribute information to fellow University students.
By Nina Korhonen
Creators of the Finnish Image
Märt Kivine writes for the largest and oldest daily paper in Estonia, the Postimees. Stationed in Helsinki, his job is to report the news concerning Finland. “I choose my topics almost directly from the headlines and discussion topics of the day. What is news in Finland is news in Estonia.” Articles of late have covered such topics as job market reform (“In Estonia, we are more interested in the behavior of the negotiating parties in the process than the solution itself.”) and racism (“Finnish racism isn’t limited to Joensuu by any means. One needn’t but read something like `Why bring foreigners here to become unemployed?’ on the opinion page of the Helsingin Sanomat.).
Sirje Kiin lives in Turku and writes for the second largest newspaper in Estonia, the Eesti Paevaleht. Kiin finds issues concerning Finnish security policy of most interest, “Hornets, weapons deals between the Finns and Russians, and everything concerning NATO.”
Both Kiin and Kivine consider visa issues between Finland and Estonia most important. Kiin comments, “It is the most painful problem that exists between the countries at this moment and it annoys the Estonians greatly.” Kivine updates the visa situation weekly in his column, “I have tried to point out in my writing that none of the reasons that are listed as deterrents to visa exemption hold. Worst was when the Finnish Minister of Interior claimed that Estonia’s borders cannot be trusted. People haven’t entered Estonia illegally for over one and a half years.”
One of Finland’s greatest problems in international communications is its self-contentedness, claims Kivine. “Finns believe that everything is best in Finland and this is the best country in the world. The Nordic welfare state. What is more, any country that Finland were to have a trustworthy relationship with should be just like it. For some reason, Estonia has a submissive attitude when it comes to dealings with Finland. With our other neighbors we act as a strong state, but with Finland our dignity is somehow diminished immediately and we are simply amicable. In Estonia, many still believe that Finland treats Estonia better, that we have some kind of privileged position. On the state level, however, there isn’t too much proof of this.”
By Sami Lotila
Syl supports Fifth Nuclear Plant
The old board of the Finnish National Union of University Students (SYL) made a controversial move before it left office last December, voting to send a statement to the Finnish Parliament indicating its support for a fifth nuclear power plant in Finland. Kati Korhonen, the main supporter of the move, explains her motivation, “Many had hoped for a stronger societal activism from SYL. This subject interested me because I study at the University of Technology.”
Esa-Pekka Keskitalo, a member of the previous board, was absent the day the vote took place. “We hadn’t discussed energy policy once all year, not that it’s any of our business,” he explains, “Matters addressed by SYL should have at least some kind of connection to student interests. My own opinion about nuclear power is irrelevant. I feel the statement prepared by Korhonen et. al. is a heavy-handed, useless stunt.” Korhonen admits that student opinion concerning nuclear power was not considered essential in their decision, “Their opinions weren’t studied. I don’t believe in that kind of plebiscite mentality.”
Over 60% of students were opposed to nuclear power in a Gallup poll conducted by Helsingin Sanomat a month ago. 55% of all Finns oppose a fifth nuclear power plant. The Chair of the current SYL administration, Janne Laine, doesn’t believe SYL will concern itself with energy policy in the coming year, “I have to say, it doesn’t interest me so much. I do believe that SYL should take a stand concerning certain social issues, however, like employment policy, for example.”
By Miira Lähteenmäki
University Lunch on Weekends
Now students can fill their stomachs with a cheap meal on weekends as well. The Finnish Study Aid Center has granted two cafeterias, Domus Academica and Porthania, student meal subsidation funding for weekend meals until June 30th. At Domus, discount meals will be available from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays at Porthania. Depending on your choice, lunch will cost either FIM 8.50, 10, or 13.50.
Film Archive’s Spring Offerings
The Finnish Film Archives, located at the Orion theater at Eerikinkatu 15, has put together a program for the spring sure to satisfy true movie fans. In addition to some all-time classics, like Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion and Luis Bunuel’s Los Olvidados, director John Huston will be spotlighted, with his greatest films starring Humphrey Bogart such as The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen.
The movies of the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, Calamari Union and Leningrad Cowboys Go America, to name just two, will also be presented, along with some of the movies which inspired him.
Tickets to the movie showings are only FIM 17. A membership pass costing FIM 17 must also be shown with each ticket and is good for half a year.
By Sami Hyrskylahti