The protest camp
On the 24th of November 2012,
hundreds of migrants seeking asylum in Austria marched from the isolated and overcrowded government camp storing them to set up a protest camp in Vienna along with Austrian supporters. Their demands are: the right to work and stay in this prosperous European country, as qualified legal support and translation. Building their own and self-sustained protest camp, the protesters
have created a vibrant space of participatory democracy, solidarity and mutual aid; an inspiring constituent process. They have shown what a truly open and cosmopolitan Europe might look like.
The church occupation
On the 18th of December, after weeks of building a strong movement and camp, and after weeks of being ignored by the government, they decided to move into the church that borders on the protest camp. When the asylumseekers sought refuge in the church the government could no longer ignore them. However, while the government has acknowledged the legitimacy of their demands, the talks have been fruitless as the government refused to take the necessary action to improve the situation.
The hunger strike
The days of Christmas, which so festively celebrate that Joseph and Maria found asylum in Bethlehem, have been a cold and inhospitable time for the protesters. As politicians joined their families, leaving the refugees with little more than vague promises of more talks, the refugees saw little other option but to enter into hunger strike.
Meanwhile, migrants have come to Vienna from all over the country, to join this protest and affirm the importance of another kind of politics of migration and asylum. Their demands have been echoed and supported: we have heard the director of Caritas as well of different union leaders affirm the importance of giving migrants the right to work as they seek refuge.
Today, on the 28th of December, in the dark of the night, a large number of police violently evicted the camp. The frame of the democracy and community that has been built up in the cold winter month running up to Christmas was razed to the ground within few hours.
The politicians in charge have not only broken the talks, but chosen to penalize the act of protesting against the inhuman conditions that asylum seekers have to tolerate in Austria. Police registered the identity of everyone at the camp; people who were inside tents had to stand up in front of the tents, were photographed and filmed from all sides in most humiliating ways. The police now presses charges against 24, and two are said to be arrested because of lack of residence permit.
But people are determined to continue the struggle, with the church filling with ever more refugees and transmigrants every day – even if the support of the church and Caritas is very reluctant, at times blocking access to the church. Freedom of movement and protest are human rights – we support the important cause of migrant struggles and the brave acts of civil disobedience in Vienna and everywhere in Europe!
We demand that the Austrian Government
– guarantees the right to protest, also for non-Austrian citizens;
– stops any ongoing legal actions against people exercising their right to protest;
– stops all racist policing;
– resumes the negotiations with the asylumseekers, which this violent eviction was so clearly designed to interrupt.
Please sign the following statement of solidarity with the refugee protesters of the evicted protest camp in Vienna.
From tomorrow early morning on you can also sign online.
Antonio Negri, Italy
Arianna Bove, UK
Coordinamento Migranti, Italy http://www.coordinamentomigranti.org
Franco Bifo Berardi, Italy
Fundacion de los Comunes, Spain www.fundaciondeloscomunes.net
Judith Revel, France
Precarious Workers Brigade, UK http://precariousworkersbrigade.tumblr.com
Prekaer Café, Austria
Sandro Mezzadra, Italy
Universidad Nomada, Spain www.universidadnomada.net
We repeat and stand fully behind the asylumseekers‘ demands:
1.) Grundversorgung (basic support) for all asylumseekers, as long as they reside in Austria, irrespective of their legal status;
2) Free choice of their location of residence in Austria, and access to public housing for all asylum seekers residing in Austria – no transfers against the wishes of the people concerned;
3) Access to employment, educational institutions and social security for all migrants residing in Austria;
4) Stop all deportations to Hungary – stop all deportations associated with the Dublin Regulation 2;
5) Establishment of an independent authority for substantive review and appeal of all negative replies to asylum applications;
6) Recognition of socio-economic motives in addition to the previously recognized escape reasons
For the full list of demands, see: