Being a Musician is a Human Right


The Finnish media have recently reported about a musician who applied for asylum in Finland and got a negative decision on grounds that he should change his profession in order to survive in his home country. The Finnish Music Council cannot accept the outrageous argumentation of the decision on refusal of entry, made by the Finnish Immigration Service.

In the decision, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) takes it as a fact that the person concerned has been persecuted and assaulted in his home country due to the profession of musician. The decision states that it is not taken as a fact that the person concerned would be threatened in the future, provided that he relinquishes the profession of musician. The decision states that the musician's profession is not an innate, unchangeable or otherwise essential characteristic for a person’s conscience or the realization of their human rights.

The Finnish Music Council (FMC) finds the argumentation of the decision in fundamental contradiction with human rights. Migri requires that the musician, when returning to his home country, submits to oppression and deprivation of the freedom of expression in order to survive, and looks for another job that does not threaten his life.

The logic of the decision is hard to understand. The required sacrifices hit at the heart of the person's conscience and human rights. The musician is required to give up on crucial human rights in order to survive and to enjoy the remaining, restricted human rights. If the logic of the decision was followed across the board, it would eliminate the need of the institution of asylum.

The solution offered in the decision might well be the only way for the musician to survive, if he was forced to return to his home country. But as the content of an authority's decision it does not stand up to scrutiny, especially from the perspective of human rights. The requirement of relinquishing a profession repeats the same restriction of the freedom of expression and human rights, that the musician has faced in his home country.

FMC finds it essential not to require persecuted artists to relinquish their profession. A civilized state should advocate human rights and freedom of expression.

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