EUR 30,000 Pay-off for leaving Austria voluntarily

17 11 2007

Video (excerpt): “I don’t want to blackmail the authorities or the police, but I was serious about suicide. If I have to return (to Kosovo, sic) then I rather take my life, because there I have no future”, said 15-year-old Arigona Zogaj in a hugely emotional estate.

The video, which was received by the ORF in early October 2007, put Austria’s xenophobic Asylum Policies under the aegis of Interior Minister Günther Platter of the FPÖ – I am sorry, ÖVP, an unintentional slip-of-the-tongue – international spotlight. A family that came to Austria in 2001 from Kosovo, who was considered as fully integrated into the community of Frankenburg, near Vöcklamarkt in Oberösterreich, was ripped apart in front of the amazed Austrian public.

Arigona went into hiding at the end of September when the family, originated from Kosovo, and their five children should be sent home. “I will only come out of hiding when I can see my brothers and sisters are safely back with my mother”, she said close to tears. In the meantime, the father and the other four children, all either attending kindergarten or school, were sent home, the mother was allowed to stay then. The situation was temporarily resolved and Arigona, after huge media attention, was allowed to return to school and stay with her mother in Austria.

However, Platter’s merciless and xenophobic approach has led to a further development this week. Media reports, confirmed by the Zogaj family, indicated a “pay-off piss-off approach” by the Austrian authorities. Günter Ecker, Managing Director of the Verein Menschenrechte Österreich – an NGO financially supported by the Interior Ministry to provide guidance for asylum seekers and those to be extradited, is said to have offered the remaining Zogaj family members a EUR 30,000 compensation for that they give up their residency in Austria and return home to Kosovo immediately.

The “bounty”, as the alleged and failed attempt of the pay-off was later nicknamed, should have offered support in building a house back in Kosovo. Meanwhile, no one can accuse Platter of not having done his research in real estate prices in Kosovo; his knowledge of the Yugoslavian province seems otherwise rather rudimentary. Otherwise, the conservative politician would not have allowed the separation of the family.

The fate of Kosovo, which holds provincial and local elections this weekend, seems uncertain given the fact that the Serbian politicians would not allow the province, in which predominantly Albania population to become independent. A political goal the Albanian politicians vehemently demand. The UN peace negotiations, aimed to end the looming political crisis and preventing ethnic cleansing as in 1998, are in a deadlock though the proclamation of independent Kosovo seems likely, backed by the EU and United States but vigorously opposed by Russia.

In a commentary by the Editor-in-Chief of Österreich, Wolfgang Fellner (abridged print copy of Nov. 15, p. 5) accuses Platter of being a coward when “a politician wants to resolve his “problem” with money.” At the same time, another case of Niederösterreich hit the headlines virtually at the same time this week. Another family from Kosovo, separated from an abusive father, 39-year-old Safete Zeqai, was arrested only minutes after a press conference held by the regional Green Party to highlight yet another case, where a family went into hiding for seven weeks in fear of extradition.

In a commentary for the daily Der Standard, Editor Hans Rauscher stated under the title ‘Staatssicherheit’ – referring to the infamous Communist German Democratic Republic’s Secret Police – that “in GDR-like states, there is a method of intimidation summoning or imprisonment: Dissidents or opposition are summoned to a more or less threatening conversation at the “security (forces, sic)” or arrested – and released shortly afterwards,” as in case of Safete Zeqaj in Austria; the family might expect extradition at any time. Interior Minister Günther Platter welcomed the response of the Austrian authorities and called it as “self-evident” because everyone that resists an orderly extradition has to expect arrest.

How far is the xenophobic ‘campaign’ by the Interior Minister to go in the future? Even the far-right FPÖ and its orange rival BZÖ keep silent. So why fueling the situation any further? Because the Austrian asylum and immigration laws need urgent repair, as in many parts they violate the Convention for Human Rights. But Platter, who showed also no sign of responsibility when the first case of police torture was registered in 2006, evidently lacks the competence nor does he show any signs of remorse.

Jörg Haider declared in the early 1990s, when his FPÖ was in opposition, that the Socialdemocratic Interior Minister (1989 – 1995) Franz Löschnak was “our man in the government” because he realized the xenophobic policies against asylum seekers and refugees in the wake of the FPÖ election victories. Today, the FPÖ could proudly exclaim that “our man” is also doing a great job: Pay-off and piss-off!

Voice your opinion here, or email Interior Minister Günther Platter of what you think.

There is an interesting article with a number of links added on in German for further reading.

If you wold like to follow the debate on the right of residence for asylum seekers – in German though – please have a look at this link.




6 responses

17 11 2007
EUR 30000 payoff for leaving Austria voluntarily | Political news - democrats republicans socialists greens liberals conservatives

[…] post by mwurz1975 This was written by . Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007, at 1:15 pm. Filed under […]

17 11 2007
Download Music » EUR 30000 payoff for leaving Austria voluntarily

[…] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

18 11 2007

Gegen Ausgrenzung

zwei Hinweise, d.h. zwei doppelte Hinweise, Empfehlungen, Shout Outs, Aufrufe zur Unterstützung und Solidarität.
1. Es gibt da jemanden, der heißt Franz Alois Michael Tfirst. Der Name, vermute ich jedenfalls, tut nichts zur Sache. Der Name sagt nich…

8 01 2008

very interesting.
i’m adding in RSS Reader

31 01 2008

What do you mean ?

14 12 2009
All’s Well That Ends Well or The Art of Talking Much and Saying Little « Music & Politics in Vienna

[…] Minister Maria Fekter takes on the responsibility of “abiding by the law” in case of Arigona Zogaj by ripping a well-integrated family apart. And the Social democrats – unlike in winter 2007 […]

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