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[ 24. Feb 2014 ]

Solidarity statement against the criminalisation of Migrants and Refugees

Comment of the Refugee Protest Movement Vienna on the risk of crossing borders, using a smuggler or escape helper and the court procedures against Michael Genner and some of the ectivists that had been arrested in Summer 2013 under the contruction of being part of an international human smuggling organization - two of them had been released recently.


We refugees are fleeing from different reasons from our homecountries. We are forced to leave so much loved behind: Our home land, our culture, our businesses and normal lives. We miss our families. We miss our children. Our friends. And we also miss those streets in which we played in our childhood. We lost a lot of family members in war, and also them, we miss so much.

Every refugee leaving the homecountry is thinking the same:
How can i get a legal status and start a normal and safe life in another country?

Many of our family members and friends live all around the world now.
It was not our free choice to come to Europe.
Refugees are moving all around the world because they cannot stay in their places of residence. Only some try to come to Europe asking for Asylum and international protection. The majority of refugees are dying or are stuck on their ways, or have to return.

There is no LEGAL way to reach Europe. If you have no Visa you have to risk your life to go to Europe. The authorities are making it every time more difficult and more dangerous to cross the borders. That´s why it is impossible to enter Europe without the help of people, whom you call „smugglers“. Even the ways with the smugglers are risky. But it is necessary that someone helps you.

Every story of a refugee is different. But the common problem is the border. There exist different ways of supporting refugees in crossing borders. It needs knowledge, planning and courage. There are different kind of smugglers. You can be cheated, tortured or blackmailed. You have no rights if you go to a smuggler. You cannot ask for special seats like in a plane.

But good smugglers are fast, show or lead us a good way, give us shelter and food, know the weather. A good smuggler can neither give you a guarantee for successful border crossing nor a guarantee for your life. But a good smuggler tries to take care of your life.

We would prefer not to be dependent on having a smuggler. But we see it as a service, generally paid, which will exist as long as it is illegal to cross borders.

A smuggler often also pays border guards, the police or authorities so we can cross without controls.

It is the same authorities who are criminalizing migration and refugees and who are violating human rights. It is also that racist part of the system rejecting asylum, creating detention centers, and making profit with deportations.

But in fact, deportations are the real human smuggling!!

Michael Genner and his organization Asyl in Not have been strongly supporting the Refugee Protest Movement from its very beginning and giving legal advice to several refugee activists.

We see it as an act of solidarity with all refugees when Michael Genner wrote a public statement on human smuggling and the necessary support of crossing borders. As a result, a person like Michael Genner, who has been openly and consequently fighting all his life against these structures, has almost been taken to court. This was a try to silence his voice and the voice of others, who are supporting the struggles of refugees against an injust system.

We want to remind why Michael Genner wrote the public statement:

At the end of July 2013 eight activists of our protest were deported. There was immediate growing solidarity of wide parts of civil society with the deportees. The government answered, trying to destroy the movement by criminalizing and arresting several activists under the contruction of being part of an international human smuggling organization. Soon after, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had to take back most parts of their accusations. For more then six months the activists are being imprisoned, waiting for their trials.

Now, some weeks ago two persons of our protest movement got out of prison. They are still waiting for their trials. We see it as a success, because it shows that the authorities have no proof. But we ask you- Why did they have to wait for their trial in prison for so many months? They are no criminals! We are asking the Austrian public to show support to the still imprisoned persons and also to come to their coming trails!

Governments all around the world are violating human rights.
It must not be possible for authorities to criminalize people who are fighting openly for Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Speech.
It must not be possible to authorities to criminalize migrants and refugees!

We wont allow them to stop our fight for our righs!

You cannot silence us!
No border, no nation! Stop criminalization!
Together we will rise!

Refugee Protest Movement Vienna, February 2014