Austria: Refugees speak up for their rights

14.07.2015 - Pressenza Wien

Austria: Refugees speak up for their rights
(Image by traiskirchen.com)

This article from no-racism.net reports on a protest in the Austrian town of Traiskirchen in support of migrants at the town’s refugee camp.  It has been written by one of the protest organisers and edited by Pressenza for publication.

On Staturday, 11th of July 2015, hundreds of people (around 500, but maybe up to 1000 due to the constant coming and going) – most of them staying at the Traiskirchen refugee camp – participated in a march from Traiskirchen station through the neighbourhood to the gate of the refugee camp.  The protest went by the title of “Refugees welcome! Stop human rights violations in Traiskirchen! Stop racist asylum policies!”

An important reason for people from Vienna to call for this demonstration was a feeling that the absolutely unbearable, inhumame living conditions in Traiskirchen, created by the Austrian interior ministry and authorities, really demand a quick response of solidarity with the refugees.

What was, in the end, really impressive about this demonstration?  The refugees living in Traiskirchen really made this demonstration THEIR demonstration.  It could be said that “refugees welcome” was turned into “refugees speak up for their interests and their rights”. Right from the beginning, refugees from the camp took the microphone to speak up on their own behalf.

Issues and demands that were raised: People complained about the bad living conditions in which many of them don’t have any bed and are forced to sleep on the floor or outside under the trees, in the heat and the rain; the food is very bad and does not correspond at all to the needs of the refugees; medical care does not really work at all, people wait for hours without seeing a doctor.

As a consequence, most people demand a quick transfer out of the horrible conditions of Traiskirchen refugee camp. “Transfer, transfer!” was a slogan often shouted. People found it very unjust that many of them have been waiting for a long time for a transfer without any result.

Besides the issue of bad living conditions, the demand to stop Dublin-deportations was a major issue that was raised. “We don’t want to be sent to Hungary, to Bulgaria, to Italy…,” speakers pointed out, while some people were holding sheets of paper with “Stop Dublin” slogans. It became clear that a large part of the people presently living in Traiskirchen are under threat of Dublin deportation and they have only green asylum cards, which restrict their freedom of movement to the district of Baden, while deportation can happen at any time. For young minors, the threat of Dublin deporation is connected to a humiliating procedure of age checking.

Often, the doctors and authorities responsible for the age checks claim that the person is older than they said, in order to make it possible to deport this person through the Dublin rule. Some speakers pointed out that they definitely want to stay in Austria and not move away any more, while others want to be allowed to move on freely to a country of their choice if Austria is not ready to let them stay in proper conditions.

In addition:

– People showed their concern and anger at the horrible living conditions. However, the demonstration was not just an expression of desperation, but also an expression of great power and confidence to be able to achieve a better life and a better future.

– Members of many different nationality groups participated and spoke up. Although many of the people were very interested to represent their own group – for example by showing Afghan, Somali and Kurdish flags – there was also an atmoshere of mutual solidarity and standing together.

– While most speakers were male, at least some women spoke, too. For example one woman talked about the threat of Dublin deportation to Bulgaria that she is currently facing. For future demonstrations, it will be a challenge to create a space that makes it attractive and possible for more women to take the microphone.

Finally, for anyone who wants to practice solidarity: Go to Traiskirchen, listen to the refugees and their demands and do something to actively support their struggle and their demands!

Categories: Europe, Human Rights, International, Press Releases
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