Activists of the refugee protest movement Vienna occupy the academy of the fine arts

Refugee Protest Camp Vienna

Today, during a discussion event about the future of the movement, activists of the refugee protest movement decided to stay at the academy of fine arts in Vienna. Nearly one year after the movement was initiatilized by a march from the "arrival center" of Traiskirchen to Vienna, another cruicial point has been reached. The refugees decided once again to rely on their own strength and to not submit to the paternalistic "care" of the church authorities. During the last months at the Servitenmonastery, the Caritas and their approach of running the Monastery like a softer version of a detention center have hindered the self-organization and expression of the refugee activists by a great degree.


After starting the protest camp last November, the occupation of the Votiv church and the following eviction of the camp, the church authorities managed to convince the protesting refugees to move to the monastery after weeks of putting pressure on them in coordination with the police. Promises of allowing self-organization of the new place were broken from the beginning, and lots of energy was lost on negotiating with the Caritas about house rules.

"They forced us to live in a basement. Somehow they want to do the same with the movement. And today they kicked us out of the Kloster [monastery]." the refugees write in a declaration to the rector of the academy of fine arts, 'academy employees, professors, students, activists, friends, old and future supporters'.

It closes with the following paragraphs:

"The strategy of the church was to make the protest smaller and smaller. And now? They want to split us up to their pensions and bring us to the point where we started. But we won't go back!
As the University already showed strong solidarity we decided to look for support here. And stay here. We need a public place! The protest needs to be seen! We need to bring the protest to the universities. At the same time we want to look for a self organized house where we have rooms also for other refugee activists and supporters, which will be the center of the movement in the future.
Dear friends! Support us to give those laws resistance! Authorities will not silence us! We want legal status or they should erase our fingerprints. Those are our demands! We will fight! Only together we can rise. Let's start organizing again!"

The rector of the academy, Eva Blimlinger, has already declared that she wants the refugees to leave, but was also quoted saying that she is not planning to order the police to evict them. Blimlinger has the reputation of being somewhat left-liberal, her election was generally considered to be a result of the student occupation and protests of 2009/2010. Now it seems she feels under pressure keep her reputation among the art students and teachers. So the threat of an eviction is really much smaller than in other universities.

There is now a chance to bring the protest to the public attention again, to establish a new base for the movement without the restrictions the Caritas imposed in the monastery (though it is likely the rector of the university will make similar attempts), where new people can join and a constant exchange of the movement with its surroundings is possible.

By again claiming space, and not just taking what is being offered, the activists of the refugee movement in Vienna have made a step again in the direction of self-emancipation.

Support them in their struggle! Bring food, matrasses, sleeping bags, participate in the working groups, spread their messages, start actions of solidarity, push forward the revolution wherever you are!

For a world without borders, prisons, police, governments...


Together we will rise!


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