A Tribute to T

 

By Anu Suomela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anu Suomela is the president of PESUE - the Association for Family Rights in Finland. She was the legal representative for R in the case of R. v. Finland and also for Katrin and Timo (K & T) in their case K. & T. v. Finland in the European Court of Human Rights.

 

The following is Anu Suomela's tribute to her good friend and supporter in Human Rights, Finnish lawyer T., who perished in the Tsunami on December 26, 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T's family tragedy
 

T. travelled for her long wanted holidays to Chao Laki with her husband and three children (13, 19 and 22 years old) on 17.12.2004, and informed me by letter to come home on 27.1.2005. She worked as a public legal aid council. Together we had been fighters for human rights in Finland for over 10 years.

 

 

 

But the tsunami came on 26.12.2004. The wave threw K. the oldest daughter (22 years) to the top of a palm tree. She hung there for six hours badly wounded, but survived and was brought home. We had a memorial service on 26.3.2005, but at that time only the father was found. In May I heard that also T. and the other daughter were found. I thought they had been buried in silence. The son was found only in November and brought home.

 

 

 

T. lived in Pohjanmaa, Lappajärvi and I've visited her several times. We celebrated my victory in the case of K & T there in summer 2000, and I have the ten red dried roses from her on my bookshelf.

 

 

 

Anyhow. Her loss was a total chock for me, and there has not since been a day I wouldn't have thought her, and in legal cases asked in my mind

 

'What do you say T.?'.

 

 

 

 

 

The funeral

 

 

 

A good friend of mine had in spring invited us to Pohjanmaa to hear a famous opera on 18.6.2005. My husband and I drove there and stayed over night. On Sunday I wanted to drive to Lappajärvi to leave flowers on T's grave. We arrived there at 2 pm. At the same time the church bells started to ring and the church doors opened. T. and the other daughter were being brought out to their grave.

 

 

 

I stood there stricken by a thunder light. How come I am here now at the exact hour, though I had no knowledge of the funeral? (I do not believe in mysticism explanations, this was just a coincidence, but the situation was so striking to me). Later I heard the whole story from T's and my common friend P.

 

 

 

On November 2004 T. and P. had had a long conversation about friendship. P. had introduced T. the idea of each of us having six friends 'to carry your coffin'. Who would they be for T.? She had named me for the first, P. for the second and one of her sisters for the third. She had said that she has to think over the remaining three.

 

 

 

After coming home from Chao Laki, the daughter K. had told  P., that the day before the tsunami, she had been bathing on the beach with her mother. The mother had then told to K. the idea of six friends for carrying your coffin. K. had now asked P. whether T. had named any for herself, as she had not told this to K.

 

 

 

P. had revealed that I was the first, the second was P. and the third was the sister. K. had then wanted to follow her mother’s wish, but the family objected to inviting me at all, as I have such a bad reputation at Pohjanmaa. I have a reputation on resisting the authority and 'good order' and defending paedophiles. It is true that I've been several times as an expert witness in sexual abuse accusations, but never defended paedophilia.

 

 

 

K. was too weak and tired to resist and did not even know what was so bad in my person. It had been a fight even to allow P. to be one of the carriers. It was a question of the family's honour and good name. I heard that it had been all wrong to invite me even to the memorial service in March.

 

 

 

P. told me that when she knew all this and coming out of the church saw me standing there and waiting, she almost collapsed. She knew that I could not have known of the funeral, and yet there I was, the first carrier as T. had wished for. All this information was for me so astonishing, I did not know what hatred I had caused inside the family by defending people accused of sexual abuse. T. newer thought that way, as she was an analytical lawyer and her principal was to find out the material, historical truth of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

T's fight for human rights

 

 

And now T. gets her post Hume winning at the ECHR. She was a fire hearted, fearless fighter for Human Rights. When I was sometimes tired and depressed in the case of K & T, as the Government did everything possible to smear and discredit me T. stated: 'Now you do not care what Piia-Liisa Heiliö (the ministry of social and welfare) writes and does to put you down. You do not give up now! Lets weep and heal the wounds when this battle is over'. And so we did.

 

 

 

In this case of R. T. did all she could, but the more she tried the worse her client's situation got, as the social workers felt themselves threatened.

 

 

 

What is so disgusting in the Government's explanation to the Court, is that the violation of the of access rights was well taken care on the national level. The truth is that after fighting for three years to get an appeal able decision T. contacted her friend Anneli Jäätteenmäki who then acted as the minister of justice.

 

 

 

Anneli had contacted the Parliamentary Ombudsman whose office then had contacted the local social workers. Only after this procedure the client got an appeal able decision, but even then the social workers took their revenge and lessened the contact with the father and son to half. And the Government praises itself of how splendidly the system works on the national level correcting the faults of social workers.

 

 

 

After this long lasting alienation and manipulation, the boy did not want to meet his parents anymore. The substitute parents had told him that if he wanted to live with his father he would end up living in the children's home, which he hated.

 

 

 

If you read the judgment you find at the last paragraph that the father refused to take any compensation from the Government for his sufferings, as it only would have reminded him of the wrongs he had suffered of.

 

 

 

T. told me that the father said, that his whole life has been destroyed. He has been accused of the most disgusting criminal acts against his little boy whom he dearly loved and tried to protect. He was a religious man and lost his faith in God too, and thereafter the society where his friends were. He has not answered to my letters though I was the first he contacted in 1993 to get help.

 

 

 

 

 

In honour of T.

 

 

 

When this judgement of R. was declared on Tuesday 30.05.2006, I sent it to Jussi Kortteinen with whom I've twice been in Strasbourg in oral hearings. He well knows the history of T. He had just on Monday started a seminar on administrative legislation at the University of Helsinki. He immediately emailed me back that he will start his lecture with this case to honour T's work, and it will remain as a judgement for her honour in the history of ECHR.

 

 

 

It will. And I'm so humble and thankful to people fighting for Human Rights with me and us all. I want to leave a better world for my seven grand children to live in. There are so many dangers against democracy and Human Rights. Democracy is a one millimetre thin layer in human history,

 

started actively only after the Second World War by Declarations of Human Rights, when we saw what totalitarian ideas made people to do destroying millions of lives.

 

 

 

The war and destruction goes on around the world as democracy has not been adopted, and has been abandoned in US politics. We cannot give up.

 

As frustrating as these situations often are, we sometimes win and thereby help to guarantee our fellow men better Human Rights. Often we loose and therefore we have to go on and never give up.

 

 

 

 

 

R. v. Finland

 

 

 

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