On 24th November, a large group of refugees marched for 8 hours from Traiskirchen to Vienna to make their political demands heard. They’ve set up a protest camp at Sigmund Freud Park on the same Saturday, so as to raise their voices at the heart of the Austrian capital and finally speak for themselves.
Their initiative draws our attention to the fact that there are rampant deficiencies to the legal proceedings as well as basic provisions for people seeking Asylum in Austria. Despite their precarious status and the looming threat of deportation, the protesting refugees are fighting for their human rights – they’re standing up against intransparent legal proceedings and restrictive laws. So they put forth the following demands for dignified living conditions:
As concerning the juridicial procedure of seeking asylum, they request better qualified translators; more access to information and judicial advice in their own language; a quicker handling of their cases; the recognition of their refugee status; and the right to family reunion. They oppose transfers to remote and isolated dwellings and reject deportations generally.
Moreover, they are demanding to have access to the labour market while their court cases are ongoing.
As concerns the improvement of their basic provisions and services, they demand better access to health care; the accompanimient of translators when going to the doctor; that there be sufficient and healthy food at the camp; that there be better working conditions in Traiskirchen; that their children be allowed to visit regular Austrian schools; that they have access to modern communication technologies (Internet, international TV channels) at the camp; and that there be more opportunities for them to learn german and get professional training there.
On 5 December 2012, around 150 activist tried to prevent the deportation of at least five people from Vienna to Nigeria. The same day an attempt to deport 24 people to the Democratic Republic of Kongo was met with protests in Brussels.
Eternit beherrscht seit über 70 Jahren den Weltmarkt von Asbestfaserplatten. Obwohl die Verantwortlichen seit Jahrzehnten von den gesundheitlichen Gefahren wissen, wurden grosse Teile der Gesellschaft dem Risiko an Krebs zu erkranken ausgesetzt. Von den ArbeiterInnen des italienischen Werks in Casale Monferrato im Piemont sind heute, nach Stilllegung der Fabrik, nur mehr wenige am Leben. Die meisten von ihnen starben an einem speziellen Karzinom, welches vorwiegend von Asbestfasern verursacht wird. Der Film begleitet die ehemaligen ArbeiterInnen und deren Familien bei ihrem Kampf für Gerechtigkeit
Ende 2009 begann in Turin der sogenannte “Eternit-Prozess” gegen die Unternehmer Stephan Schmidheiny aus der Schweiz und Baron Jean-Luis de Cartier aus Belgien. Die Anklage warf ihnen vor, in Casale Monferrato keinerlei Massnahmen zum Schutz ihrer ArbeiterInnen und ihrer Familien getroffen zu haben und Informationen über die Gesundheitsgefährdung von Asbestzement unterdrückt zu haben. Die beiden Angeklagten hatten sich im Prozess von ihren Anwälten vertreten lassen und waren nicht anwesend. Im Februar 2012 wurden sie für den Tod von über 2.000 Menschen schuldig gesprochen und zu je 16 Jahren Haft verurteilt.
Obwohl weltweit jährlich rund 100.000 Menschen an den Folgen der Asbestfasern sterben, steigt die Produktion von Eternit seit einigen Jahren erneut an. Dies liegt einerseits an einflussreichen Lobbys, die versuchen, Eternit als unbedenklich darzustellen. Zum anderen ist aber auch das Wachstum des Marktes für Asbestfaserplatten in den sogenannten Schwellenländern wie Brasilien oder Indien für die Steigerung verantwortlich. Während die meisten der im Film gezeigten ArbeiterInnen in den Fabriken und auf Baustellen kaum um die Gefahren von Asbest Bescheid wussten, gibt es eine wachsende Gruppe an AktivistInnen, die mutig gegen die Asbestfasern auftreten.
Yaya was an activist of the Gambian opposition movement against president Yahaya Jammeh. The former army officer first seized power in a military coup in 1994 and was re-elected last year in a widely criticized election. After an arson attack in 2004 Yaya fled the country and applied for asylum in Austria.
The Austrian asylum court, however, rejected Yaya’s appeal, cynically claiming that he could easily move back to Gambia together with his 2.5 year old daughter and her mother. As he is due to be deported to Gambia, a manifestation will be held on Thursday, May 24 at 5pm in front of the Police Detention Center PAZ in Vienna (8, Hernalser Gürtel 6-12).
London’s police has been facing a wave of criticism, after an audio-recording by a 21-year-old man was released by the Guardian in March. The man had been stopped by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs during the days of last year’s youth riots in London. After being strangled(!) by a police officer later identified as PC Alex MacFarlane, he was subject to severe racist insults.
A series of mobile-clips by grime MC JMD gives a further insight in the daily repression black youth is facing on London’s streets:
In August 2011, Mark Duggan was killed by police officers, sparking of riots in many cities all over the UK. There were a few remarkable interviews and comments made, giving some idea on the situation, which eventually led to the riots.
The photograph above was taken in April 2012 in Vienna, Austria. On the left-hand side poster, the multinational company Unilever advertises an ice cream called “Safari Afrika” by its local brand “Eskimo”(sic!). Right next to it, World Vision is promoting a food-aid programm with a rather questionable photomontage. Both advertisments apparently seek to employ as many racist and post-colonial stereotypes as possible. Unilever had already been under criticism for a similar poster in 2009.
When looking at the origins of current food crisis, one might find numerous causes. However, land grabbing has begun playing a particularly prominent role in recent years: land, which has been cultivated mostly by subsistence farmers, is claimed by the state in order to be sold to often multinational companies. These enterprises have of course no interest in the situation of the local population, as they usually produce for an exterior market. Families, who have been living and working on the land often for several generations, are subject to displacement, violence and even murder.
The short film by ON Broadcast Communications below illustrates the role of the World Bank in actively supporting land grabbing. According to the film, since 2008 an area of the size of France has been stolen with this practice.
A report by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) from 2011 indicates that sub-Saharan Africa is subject to approximately two thirds of the worldwide land grabbing. The paper points out, that “the range of interests behind large scale land investments include multinational companies engaged in a variety of investments including biofuels and extractive industries, foreign governments seeking an assured food supply, commercial farmers expanding into neighbouring countries, and financial institutions wanting to broaden their asset portfolio. Domestic investors are also important in many countries, sometimes in partnership with foreign capital“.
And it continues: “The finance sector is a relative newcomer to farmland acquisition. Its interest has been generated by rising prices for food and other agricultural commodities, the perception that the value of land and water is increasing, and the emergence of farmland as a global asset in a portfolio of other investments, offering a return less affected by the latest international financial crisis.”
La Via Campesina in an international movement of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. The European branch of the organisation has issued a press release on April 25th, 2012, calling for solidarity to all people struggling for the preservation of land, the access to land and to the profession. In the text, they particularly refer to ongoing struggles in Mali, where farmers were arrested for working the land of which they were expelled after land grabbing, to land occupations in Honduras and Andalusia and to resistance of farmers against being expelled from their land to make way for airports and high-speed-trains.
You can find an online public database of large-scale land deals at Land Matrix.
Rome’s homeless refugees at the heart of European law row: Europe’s refugees face a growing crisis – they cannot escape poor living conditions in Italy because European law doesn’t allow them to leave their first country of entry. Britain’s right to remove refugees and asylum seekers under the so-called ‘Dublin regulations’ is being challenged in the courts. Harriet Grant investigates for the Guardian:
WE ARE HERE! AUSSCHLUSS BASTA!
Transnational Migrant Strike
On 1 March all over the world migrants stand up and organise against social exclusion, discrimination and racism. The movement started with a migrants’ strike and boycott day in the USA in 2006. Since then protests spread transnationally to different parts of the world. This year as well, employees working in the world’s richest countries will walk-out on work, take direct industrial action or practice other forms of protest. In Austria, we want to create the foundation for a broad movement to initiate a radical change in policy towards migrants.
We have come as workers, as students and professors, as refugees, relatives, physicians and sex workers, as undocumented migrants, as au pairs, professionals and care workers. We have been living here for years and sometimes for generations. We are here, in kindergartens, in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, on construction and production sites, at universities, in private homes, in brothels, super markets and offices. We have all genders and sexual orientations, we believe in different religions and ideologies, we belong to different age groups and social strata. We have diverse backgrounds, sometimes we stick to our ethnic origin, sometimes we renounce these forms of belonging. We are living here and there. We are not longing for an old or for a new homeland. Frontiers are too narrow for us. We do not fit into them, they don’t fit our lives.
We are fighting against everyday racism and harassment, against poor pay, against wiped out opportunities and dead end careers for ourselves and our children. We are standing up against a discriminatory education and welfare system, the incompetence of political parties and police brutality. We are fighting against being deprived of citizens’ and social rights – a strategy to make us available and exploitable as cheap labour.
We are fed up with racist responses. We are here to stay. Instead of waiting we are now taking our destinies into our own hands. We have fought many battles; we know what it means to be excluded. We are living solidarity and we want radical change.
Wherever we are living and working, we all are entitled to equal rights, and to good and just living conditions!
1 March will be a day of mobilisation, irritation, raising voices and strike. We invite everybody regardless and transgressing identities and ethnicities to join this protest and to strike against racism. Let’s use this day to join our differences to find a new common new language. We put an end to the division between We and You. We all are the future!
Together with us – Against racism, discrimination and exclusion!
Together with us – For equal rights and same privileges for All!
Manifestation on 1 March 2011 17:00â€¨
1100 Wien, Viktor Adler Markt