Here in Vienna, Austria, at the end of 2012, the police cleared out a camp of protesting refugees in Sigmund Freud Park. Most of them fled into the church nearby, Votivkirche. I’d read about them vaguely and went to visit them a few days ago. I hope to be able to find the time to (a) visit them again soon and (b) be able to publicize their situation. As of today, January 17, 45 of them are 26 days into a hunger strike. Most of the information about the situation is in German, but I’ll paste in a text from last November discussing their demands. I hope to have more here soon. One of many videos on the topic is here:
Demands of the Protesting Refugees – http://refugeecampvienna.noblogs.org/post/2012/11/26/refugee-demands-24th-nov-2012/
November 26, 2012
We are refugees who have arrived in Austria to seek asylum to build a new life here. Our countries are devastated with war, military aggression, social backwardness and poverty because of the colonialist politics. We have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia, Syria, Kurdistan, Iran, Chechnya etc. and now we are stuck here in the refugee camp Traiskirchen. In this camp, we have expected to get help and support from Austria, but what we have seen here, was, that the Austrian state didn’t show us that we are welcome here. We are staying in refugee camps facing bad conditions.
We the refugees from Traiskirchen now raise our voices and demand our rights. We demand from the authorities following improvements:
The translators which are being used during the asylum cases must all be replaced with new ones. These translators have been working here for a very long time, and they are making jokes about people. They translate deliberately wrong and because of that many people got bad court procedures, negative verdicts and interviews.
After getting two negatives from the court, the court asks us to pay court and lawyer fees that amount 220,- and in case someone does not pay this amount, he is taken to prison. This is unacceptable because we are not criminals, we are just not allowed to work as asylum seekers. We demand that we don’t have to pay for court or lawyer fees anymore.
Deportations must all be stopped. People must be able to stay here or go to another country.
We demand more translators for doctor visits, especially translators of the Urdu language.
Generally we demand more doctors for refugees.
There are many transfers to backward areas in Austria´s countryside. This must stop. Because these are small areas where is no legal advice, shopping possibility, which practically means isolation where refugees cannot get help when they need.
Inside the camp, german language courses and practical work courses must be opened. And for the german language school, we need translators.
Children of the families staying in the camp must attend an ordinary school with local children.
Food must be much healthier and nutritious. The refugees have to be able to cook for themselves or to take the food to their rooms.
There must be proper and good clothes and shoes available for all seasons.
The working conditions and the amount that is paid for cleaning and cooking is not enough and must be improved.
Travel tickets for 3 times a week must be provided, so that everyone can get to know the country, the people and their living, and their own legal situation and asylum process.
We need a barber in the camp for men and women.
Pocket money in the amount of 40,- per month is absolutely not enough and must be increased.
We need real and proper sanitary articles. We need also such articles as nailcutters or mirrors, because there are no mirrors in bathrooms(!).
In the refugee camp, we are isolated from the rest of the world because there is no internet access and no television. We need both to stay in contact with our families and friends. We live in the 21st century but we don´t have access to modern media and forms of communication. We demand free internet access in the camps and satellite tv receivers to get informations about the world.
We demand these basic rights from the austrian government, the european union and for all refugees worldwide.
We call on the austrian government to fullfill its responsibilities towards the refugees.
We will continue our actions until our voices are being heard and our demands fullfilled.
Freedom of movement for all refugees!
We will rise!