Statement of GEMMI on the dead of Seibani Wague
26.07.2003 |


Report on antiracist activities in Vienna in memory of Seibani Wague

Killing of Seibane Wague in Vienna

Racism Kills! - Information on the killing of Marcus Omofuma on 1st of May 1999
15 July 2003, Seibani Wague, a 33-year old man from Mauritania, died in the hospital after a police intervention in the African village within the Vienna city park. Eyewitnesses to the action report massive use of force by the police. Cheibani Wague was given tranquilizers, and he died in the hospital. The official autopsy reports his cause of death as "heart failure." Whatever the official cause of death, one thing is clear: Seibani Wague is one more person who has died in connection with a police intervention. As always, state power targets the marginalized. We strongly condemn this recent demonstration of the murderous nature of state power. We grieve with Seibani Wague's family and friends.

For years, GEMMI has been writing about institutional racism in Austria. This racism is especially clear around election-time, with increases in excessive police actions, particularly against Africans, and increases in racist discourse in the legislature and among government officials, in the media, and in the everyday life. Racism persists because of racist ideas, constructed by the mass media, such as the idea that migrants are part of a "world-wide drug mafia"; these constructions cement racist prejudice, justify the police state, and frighten the public away from acting in solidarity. For years, Africans, migrants, and other minorities have been criminalized. It is not really surprising that another African has died following arrest or a police intervention; what is surprising is that one does not hear more about these incidents, in light of the systemic brutality in which such "security measures" become routine.

We resist institutional racism, the class-biased judicial system, and the police state. We must uphold solidarity with all those affected, whether or not those concerned have broken any of the state's laws. Does an individual's drug use make it any less criminal for the justice system to treat that person unfairly, or for police to kill that person? We live in a system where policemen can beat and shoot people with impunity, fearing no consequences other than perhaps being transferred to a different station. This system gives legal sanction to injustice.

Seibani Wague's death is scandalous: not because the police's actions in this case represent an exception, but because of the systemic pattern of abuse they represent. Within this system, WEGA military police may attack the homes of asylum-seekers, anger and resistance justify murder, and migration is made into a crime. Every month, there are drug raids against the homes of refugees; refugees are searched in their homes and in public places. This is the same institutional racism that has led to the death of Seibani Wague.

Racism hurts all of us. Justice and humanity cannot be separated; they must apply equally to all. It is a fallacy to say that those who distance themselves from oppressed groups, who "keep their noses clean" and obey the state's laws, are not affected by discrimination and repression. Keeping out of trouble will not protect you from oppression, but it does mean accepting oppression without contesting the status quo. Our mourning and rage do not signify resignation and helplessness; they must encourage our solidarity, so that our resistance becomes broader and more diverse.

No justice, no peace!

GEMMI - Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte von Marginalisierten und MigrantInnen