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Votivkirche protest continues

Asylum seekers currently occupying the Votivkirche in Vienna, Austria, have now criticized the humanitarian organisation Caritas that has been supporting them.

Caritas has been trying to persuade the asylum seekers to move into better quality accommodation and out of the church.

The Interior Ministry has ended the talks with the asylum seekers. Meanwhile the FPÖ wants to press charges against the asylum seekers.

A group of asylum seekers are still on hunger strike in protest at the long winded asylum process and cramped conditions.

But the Interior Ministry has claimed from their part the discussions are closed.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner from the ÖVP put an end to the discussions claiming there will be no structural changes to the Austrian asylum system.

The Interior Ministry regrets that the asylum seekers could not bring an end to the action after the meeting, but no police action to remove the asylum seekers is planned as long as the Church refused to make a complaint.

Johann Gudenus from the FPÖ has threatened to press charges on the asylum seekers for decrying religious teachings, impending the practise of religion, failing to comply with laws, coercion and extortion.

Currently around 100 asylum seekers are sleeping in the Votivkirche and 35 are on hunger strike and plan to continue the strike until action is taken. Some are even refusing water.

Three are currently in hospital in the Austrian capital as a result.

Shortly after the latest meeting between Johanna Mikl-Leitner  and representatives of the asylums seekers on Wednesday, the asylum seekers made a renewed pledge to remain in the church and continue their hunger strike.

One of the asylum seekers claimed the hunger strike currently into its 13th day could last months or years - presumably meaning that others would join in.

They want a ban on deporting refugees and want the finger print data base deleted so that they can apply in other countries if rejected in Austria.

Those affected also showed their feelings towards Caritas who have been representing them: "We are happy they represent us. But so far it has not brought anything for us. There has been no movement.

"The only move that was made was offering us warm accommodation, but that is not why we are here," said one of the refugees.

Caritas spokesperson Klaus Schwertner however claimed he could see improvements being made for asylum seekers in the areas of care and working permits.

Caritas wants the asylum seekers to move from the cold church into warm, suitable accommodation.

The protest and hunger strike continues.

Austrian Times


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