Events for October
M T W T F S S
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
Add your event FREE

Today


Videos


Polls


Cosmo and Nanu - Hey Cool


Cosmo and Nanu

Votivkirche refugees end hunger strike

By Vicko Marelić in Vienna

The Votivkirche refugees announced an end to their hungerstrike this morning after a well-attended demonstration on Saturday and an ‘encouraging’ letter from President Fischer.

Hundreds of people had marched through Vienna on Saturday in support for the plight of the refugees freezing in the Votivkirche.

The refugees had sought shelter in the church near the university, having marched from the insalubrious Traiskirchen detention centre in November last year.

The demonstration was the culmination of a protest that has sought to highlight the plight of some sixty three people whose weekend protest brought about a personal letter from the federal president Heinz Fischer.

The sixty-three men include forty-eight Pakistanis, seven Afghans and eight North Africans. Their numerous demands centre primarily on better conditions for refugees but also include access to the work market, the right of asylum for economic refugees and the right to appeal against negative asylum decisions.

All the refugees come from regions where war, political instability and economic blight  is persistent. Most are from the unstable borderland region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Khan Shajahan, from the refugee protest camp Vienna sees the latest developments as a positive sign, noting that: ‘We are glad that the Austrian president has addressed us with a personal letter. We see it as a sign that our concerns are being heard and will hopefully be taken seriously’. He praised those who have aided their cause, saying that: ‘The solidarity of civil society as well as encouragement from our friends and supporters has strengthened our resolve’.

Few people would associate Vienna with the new ‘wretched of the earth’. Its carefully cultivated reputation as the ‘Isle of the blessed’ compares favourably with the more gangrenous elements of the  Parisian banlieus and London inner cities.

Yet ‘Festung Europa’ , a prizewinning book by the Austrian journalist Corrina Milbourne reminds us that Austria is not immune. The book investigates the entry routes, jobs and situation of the refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in Europe.

One of her chapters focuses on exposing the shocking conditions of the refugees kept at Traisenkirche detention centre where the Votivkirche refugees were originally accommodated. She shows how refugees in Austria end up in a legal no-man’s land, locked in a black hole of often Kafkaesque proportions.

Saturdays demonstration started at the Westbahnhof. A small stage was set up from where the refugees were able to talk about their case. A man from Africa stated: ‘I have been here for nine years and still have no papers. I do not demand voting rights but I would like human rights.’
The up and coming, socially engaged rapper Kid Plex demonstrated his solidarity with the refugees by performing a moving song about the rights of humanity. Various civil rights groups spoke in their defence, appealing to people’s conscience with: ‘It is an accident of birth where you are born’.

The demonstration marched into the first district towards the Hofburg. Turning left into the Herrengasse, they stopped in front of the Ministry of home affairs. Speeches were held here by the refugees and their representatives from activists that have sprung up to represent them. Numerous activists who were also acting as translators to the refugees noted that: ‘No human being is illegal’.

For her part, the Austrian foreign minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner pointed out that: ‘Clearly, for men who are persecuted in their own country there will always be room in Austria. But leave to remain for everybody is not possible - that is an unrealistic demand.’

Indeed, even the Austrian foreign minister Michael Spindelleger recently declared on a trip to the region that ‘Afghanistan is still not a secure country’. With the longest war in US history still raging and showing little sight of abating, trying to return the people back to a place where they face clear and present danger makes little sense from a political as well as a moral perspective.

Yet during an economic crisis, fewer people will sympathise with the demands for asylum being granted on economic reasons. However, the same arguments were used in turning back the Jewish refugees abroad the MS St Louis, fleeing the Nazi regime in the 1930s. The result of this inhumane indifference at a time of economic crisis resulted hundreds of them perishing in concentration camps.

Vienna Times






Tag cloud:
President  Pakistanis  regions  refugees  letter  plight  noting  lsquo  Austrian  Votivkirche  marched  asylum  crisis  personal  demonstration  sixty  rsquo  Turning  Vienna  protest


Latest News

 

Halloween At The Zoo
Pumpkin pie might be the order of the day for people this Halloween but now zoo animals are also getting in on the act.

Baby Naked Mole Rats Born In Vienna
With their pink hairless bodies and fangs for front teeth, these baby naked mole rats were never going to win any cuteness contests at Schonbrunn Zoo in the Austrian capital Vienna.

Jihad Girls Gunpoint Retraction Of Desire To Go Home
Austrian anti-terrorism police believe that an interview given to a French magazine allegedly with one of the two teenage girls who fled to Syria to join in the jihad was probably carried out at gunpoint.

MEP caught In Brit papers Fraud Probe Jailed
A corrupt MEP caught by a British newspaper offering to propose amendments to EU laws in exchange for 100,000 euros a year has been given a three-year-jail term.

Vienna Jihad Girls Want To Come Home
The two Austrian teenage girls who became ‘poster girls’ for the jihad in Syria are now desperate to come home after getting completely disillusioned with their new lifestyles.

Viennese Jihad Girl May Have Been Killed
Austrian police say that one of the two attractive young teenage girls who fled the country to go to Syria to fight on the side of Islamic rebels may have been killed.

Teen Dying Of Cancer Killed At Charity Event After Ride In Porsche Goes Wrong
The family of a sick boy who was offered a trip in a high-performance Porsche because he was dying of cancer is suing the charity after the Porsche he was travelling in crashed head-on into oncoming traffic.

Beekeeping is booming in Vienna
People living in Vienna have got a new hobby - beekeeping.

Queen of Englands favourite horses used as lawnmowers in Vienna
Horses from the famous Spanish Riding School are being used to help keep the grass down in city parks in Vienna.

Get an early start on the American Independence Day celebrations at Eton Institute
Get an early start on the American Independence Day celebrations at Eton Institute

 


Rieders Digests


The most popular stories –
last 7 days