Frustrated at the lack of help from the local or national government, being kept in terrible conditions, and frequent threats of deportation, 100 asylum seekers have occupied a church in Vienna – 27 of whom are now on hunger strike. Despite the possibility of alternative accommodation being found they are refusing to leave due to so many disappointments in the past.
In late December a large group of asylum seekers set up a tent city close to the Votivkirche church in Vienna. Following threats of eviction, many of them decided to occupy the nearby church.
Those that chose to remain in their tents were forcibly evicted this morning. Several were arrested for not having the correct documentation, and for allegations of assaulting the police.
Over the Christmas period attempts were made to move the campaign on to the local cathedral but were thwarted by church officials and the local police. It is also being reported that they tried to disrupt the Christmas eve mass but were prevented by plain clothes police officers who had infiltrated the group.
Over the Christmas period many people from the local community have been taking food and clothes for the asylum seekers. No such charity or humanity has been evident from the church that appears to be desperate to get the asylum seekers out.
A similar church occupation recently took place in Lille, France, but they were quickly evicted. This led to the occupiers and their supporters storming the Vatican Embassy in Paris to show their disgust.
The right-wing FPO party are threatening to press charges against the asylum seekers for:
“Decrying religious teachings, impeding the practise of religion, failing to comply with laws, coercion and extortion.”
Eviction plans are said to have been drawn up by the local police who are waiting for the church to give the order to remove them.
Solidarity with asylum seekers in Vienna!