Tear gas used to disperse protesters in Helsinki

Tear gas used to disperse protesters in Helsinki

18Helsinki, April 26 (IANS) Police used tear gas to calm down hundreds of demonstrators who were against the government’s budget cuts in downtown Helsinki Friday evening, Finnish media said.

The protest, which attracted nearly 1,000 people, was launched by several non-governmental groups, Xinhua reported citing Finnish national broadcaster YLE.

It was initiated on social media under the slogan “That’s Enough Now!” to oppose the “endless” budget slashes that are “undermining the welfare state,” it said.

An invitation on Facebook said that the protest was a neutrual expression of people’s dissatisfaction with the government’s financial policy, arguing that it is “undermining the welfare state”.

The demonstration started at 5 p.m. and was held peacefully until some protestors tried to leave the restricted area and stepped up the stairs in front of the parliament building, said Finnish news agency STT-Lehtikuva.

The police began to use tear gas to calm down the situation, and the march ended around 8 p.m. The demonstration appeared to be one of the fiercest protests in Finnish recent history.

The Finnish government reached a structural reform scheme in August last year, aiming to tackle the “sustainability gap” in the state budget. The reform included cutting government spending, reducing family benefits, raising the effective retirement age and others.

Last month, the government decided to launch a further cost-saving package to cut a total of 2.3 billion euros (or about $3.17 billion) by 2018, including slashes of child benefit and earnings-related unemployment security payments.

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