Saturday, August 18, 2012

Open Appeal Demanding Resignation of Professor Teivo Teivainen

For the Helsinki University Rector Dr. Thomas Wilhelmsson

Open Appeal Demanding Resignation of Professor Teivo Teivainen

According to information that has appeared in international publications, Teivo Teivainen, while conducting his duties as a professor, has behaved in a way that requires thorough investigation and his resignation.

According to information Teivainen himself brought into public, on August 3rd 2012, having read Finnish Orthodox Church spokesman’s opinion on the criminal blasphemy of “Pussy Riot” performance in Moscow in the newspaper “Helsingin Sanomat”, he wanted to insult Finnish Orthodox Church and Christians in a similar way by conducting a similar gross provocation at the Cathedral of Assumption in Helsinki. Being aware of the insulting nature of his performance and of the fact that it will be targeted at a religious minority in Finland, Teivainen had asked two of his students to join him, who masked illegally like “Pussy Riot”, and shouted performing exorcism at the Cathedral of Assumption together with Teivainen, deeply insulting Orthodox faith and the Christians. Plenty of people invited by Teivainen attended the illegal action that was part of his tutorial at the University of Helsinki. Immediately after that, Teivainen wrote on his open Facebook-wall that he had organized “A Pussy Riot performance” at the Cathedral of Assumption and that the Cathedral of Assumption became “free Pussy Riot cathedral”.

Resuming critical debate on the issue, Teivainen wrote in Facebook, that it would be more effective to organize a similar protest at the Russian embassy in Helsinki. On 14 August 2012, most likely incited by Teivainen, three women, among them apparently the same students that attended the illegal protest at the Cathedral of Assumption, organized an illegal and shameful performance at the Russian embassy, stripping partly naked and blocking the traffic.

By his actions, namely violating laws, insulting believers, desecrating holy places and disturbing the activities of a diplomatic mission Teivainen has demonstrated, that in his opinion, the cited above things are worth supporting.

On 14 August 2012, Teivainen’s actions have been reported to the Helsinki police station as suspected crimes. He is a suspect of at least blasphemy and other crimes and violations of law. A request related to the issue has also been sent to Finnish Prosecutor General on August 16th 2012.

Teivainen has not expressed any remorse nor asked the Church or believers for forgiveness. On the contrary, he has repeatedly explained his insulting actions in a way that is by content illogical and unintelligible.

The nature of Teivainen’s attacks against the church of Finnish religious minority and his disregard towards laws and good manners clearly testify to the fact of the unsuitability for the position of a professor.

We would like to remind the readers of the fact that even such a small thing as Professor J. P. Roos’ public invitation to stow away in Helsinki trams led to an investigation and a caveat from the university rector. In the case of Teivainen, the issue is much more serious, because it has raised wide outrage around the world. Blasphemy of an Orthodox Church is hardly the ideal way for Finland to make the country known worldwide with her most famous professor.

The most worrying in Teivainen’s activities from the point of view of the University of Helsinki and the law on civil servants is the fact that in the position of a professor he asked some students to perform illegal and insulting provocations and invited his other students as well. He exploited his position of a professor to carry out the above cited action. Obviously, taking advantage of professor’s position by engaging students into political demonstration and harassing religion cannot be in accordance with the university’s basic principles or be considered proper otherwise.

In this connection we would kindly like to point out, that Cathedral of Assumption in Helsinki was built with personal donations of the Emperor Alexander II as the beautiful symbol of unity of Grand Duchy of Finland and Russian Empire. The same unity is symbolized by the name of Teivainen’s office address, Unoninkatu (the Union Street). Thus with his action, Teivainen did not only attack a religious minority in Finland and a state church in a rude way, but also the relations between Finland and Russia.

On the above-mentioned basis we demand profound investigation of the case and first and foremost Teivainen’s release from his duties

Yours Sincerelly,

Dr. Johan Bäckman, Adjunct Professor in Sociology of Law, University of Helsinki
Jon Hellevig, Lawyer
Evgenia Hilden-Järvenperä, Member of Educational Board, City of Pori
Tommi Lievemaa, musician, PAND artists for peace
Dr. Juha Molari, Doctor in Theology, Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee
Jussi Parviainen, Theatre Director, Playwright, Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee
Rauni Salminen, Theatre Director, PAND artists for peace

(Translation of the text as it appeared when delivered to rector Wilhelmsson 16th August 2012)