Thu, 24 Feb 2000 20:29:03 +0100
globe_l: Austria - policestate and media-perception
The following words are personal impressions of the demonstration yesterday
in vienna, where 300.000 people went on the streets to express their will
to fight against the new government. Nevertheless, it shall also serve as
an illustration of the first, immidiate consequences of the
fpoevp-coalition and how politics are working at the moment in austria.
The demonstration was organised by *SOS-Mitmensch*, supported by most
initiatives and organisations fighting the new government and several
artists as well as by the trade unions the parlamentary opposition (social
democrats, green party) although representants of political parties had not
been invited to hold a speech (which is of course a farce since the
representants of trade unions are strongly related to the social
democrats). On the other hand, important groups like e.g. representants of
feministic groups where also not invited, according to the moderator of the
main stage *this decision was felt democratically (sic!) by the organisers*.
Before the demonstrants had been accused by the government of beeing paid
ats 1.800,- (dm 250,-) for attendance by trade unions (one could consider
this as remarkable sign of the new government trying to deconstruct
employee-rights), chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel literally said that *This
weekend (...) the old-fashioned leftists, 68-generation, the young and the
internet-generation will let off steam once again. Afterwards we will
approach normality.* Obviously, demonstrations here in Austria are no
longer accepted as a legitimate way of expressing political opinion, hence,
this right is beeing undermined in a dengerous, popolistic way.
This also shows the worthlessness of the regularly stressed argument that
through involving Haider's fpoe into responsibility their aggression will
decrease which will turn them into a *normal* political party like the
others. It's rather obvious, that it's more the other way round, that
oevp-politicians are forced to adobt the fpoe-style (and mind?) for not
completely disappearing (medialy) next to their *partners*.
Nothing new so far, but what is even more striking is the current relation
between government and opposition (on the street, not parlament) and the
role of the police and the media.
Saturday started quiet, exept that the police checked the IDs of numerous
*potentally aggressive (looking)* people, in many cases without passing on
their ID-numbers (what is their duty according to law)--instad, they used
to say things like: *If you don't shut up immediatly, you'll be prisoned.*
No word of this was published in ANY media.
>From before and after the demonstrations some eyewhitness-reports:
- Around 14.30 the police started to isolate groups of people and tried to
avoid the continuation of the at this time 100% peaceful
demonstration--people were hit without any sign of aggression from their
side, some were picked up by the police.
- For 10pm the *Aktionskomitee gegen Schwarz/Blau* (a loose colaboration
between several leftist groups like the socialist and communist
student-assosiation and others) announced a meeting in front of the
oevp-headquarter, around 100 demonstrants and 300 policemen showed up. In
the meantime, Haider had dinner in an italian restaurant only 5 minutes
away (also at 10pm), he was sitting next a window facing the street,
obviously visible for everyone. Of course, the some demonstrants recognized
him, and so the demonstration moved to the restaurant, still 100%
peacefully (the demonstrants didn't even enter the restaurant!). Under
great media interest Haider was then guided under police-protection out of
the restaurant, afterwards the demonstrants (mostly young kids) were
literally hunted through the city and battered, no matter if they behaved
aggresive or not. One 17-year-old male, who came from styria (170km south
of vienna) was taken away his creditcard by the police. An independent
photographer was attacked by 3 policemen to be arrested. A photographer of
the Austrian Press Agency (easily recognizable as such: *APA* was printed
in huge letters on the back of his jacket) was attacked from behind by a
policeman, who hit his camera with a riot stick (and destoyed it). Some
demonstrants finally managed to flee into the Burgtheater, where a public
discussion between artists and visitors was going on. Again, what was
mentioned in the media was that Haider had to be protected from aggressive
Even worse, Max Koch, speaker of SOS-Mitmensch (the organizer of the big
demonstration before) said that he distances himself from *these violent
groups which haven't got anything to do with our demonstration*. And again,
Haider had huge media coverage, even on a day when 300.000 austrians were
demonstrating against him and the government.
Aside from the current media-situation in Austria, the perspectives
suggests what we can expect:
- the minister for justice, Krueger (*concentration-camps are penal-camps
for civilians*) sues the government-critical weekly newspaper *Falter* for
outlining that Krueger's offcial speaker Rene Schimanek (after the report
his position was denied), son of fpoe-member Hans Joerg Schimenek and son
of the legally judged VAPO-member (illegal neo-nazi group of
*ostmark-leader* Kuessel) attended a pro-VAPO demonstration some years ago.
- As already mentioned above, police, slowly but steadily, starts to
increase also physical pressure towards journalists.
- FPOE-speaker Westenthaler announced today, that he will exchange ALL
curators of the ORF (austrian broadcasting cooperation, state tv+raido)--in
this powerful curatorship-institution the new government has a 2/3rd
majority. This announcment can be seen as a consequence of the strong
(direct) pressures from severaly fpoevp-politicians towards the ORF.
- People beeing picked up by the police are asked for detailed information
on photographers documenting the demonstrations.
Last, but not least, i'd like to concentrate shortly on *new* methods of
the police(state) like monitoring phonecalls and mail--the legitimizing law
was arumented by both, oevp and fpoe, last year as a nessesary reaction to
eastern europe mafia-activities. Now, obviously, it's purpose has changed:
the main target of this monitoring is now the political opposition, as the
appearence of vans with cameras and microphones at demonstrations show.
Mental and practical help in terms of advises, instructions, actions and
solidarity is still appreciated and needed as well as spreading
eyewitness-reports and the understanding of the specific power-structures
in austria to media, especially since only very few local media are willed
to publicize these. For detailed information or questions don't hesitate to
contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or other activists. Thank you.
All the best,
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