itch on 5 Dec 2000 21:54:03 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Austrian right-conservative government passes budget, illegalizesprotests

Title: Austrian right-conservative government passes budget,
Austrian right-conservative government passes budget, illegalizes protests.

Vienna, 12/05/00 - As a reaction to the parlamentary vote on the budget 2001 on wednesday, dec. 6, critics including trade unions, oppositional parties such as the social democrats (spoe) and the green party organized protests throughout the country. Furthermore 20.000 teachers went on strike to show their disregard with deep cuts in the educational system.

All in all, around 60 demonstrations had been registrated, more than 30 in Vienna alone. The majority were part of "Checkpoint Austria" (, an effort of a nationwide blockade of traffic between 7am and 8am in the morning. The action was organized by a wide spectrum of groups and aimed to remind the population of the fact, that this budget represents a major leap in the government's efforts towards a right-conservative, anti-social republic.

In the early evening, women activist groups announced protested at the parlament to express their concern about the recently nominated minister for social and women affairs, Herbert Haupt. Being already the 3rd exchanged minister since the building of the right-conservative government in february, he had announced last week, that abortion might be legal in the future only without an agreement of the father (he denied this the day after). Still, for critics already the fact that a male politician who is at the same time member of an extremly reactionary party like the freedom party (fpoe) became minister for women affairs is a remarkable step back in the struggle of women rights.

Nevertheless the police systematically tried to prevent the rallies by not accepting their legal status. This was argumented by the demonstrations opposing public welfare and interest, being responsible for increased emission of noise and exhausted fumes intolerable for the residents. The few legal demonstration were able to achieve this status only by guaranties to stay on sidewalks without blocking any traffic. Beyond that, the ministry for infrastructure - owner of most major streets in Austria - had suits against illegalized protesters prepared. According to this legal argumentation every demonstration could theoretically be criminalized.

Considering recent blockades of anti-transit activists in tyrol or of anti-nuclear activists at the czech border, this is even more striking. In these cases the government not only tolerated compareable messures but even supported them openly.

Due to the illegal status of the rallies, the police had free hand to act extremly agressive. Protesters were pushed roughly, even hit and received denunciations already for crossing the street. According to estimations of Checkpoint Austria, at least 70 denunciations were spoken out against activists until noon. They will be accused of breach of public peace, an assault that can be sentenced with up to 3 years imprisonment. There are reports telling of 3 protestors put under arrest but released soon after.

Photographers of the Austrian Press Agency (APA) who wanted to document police-violence were verbally threatened, hindered and even knocked down by uniformed and civil policeforces. In one case civil policemen hit on a photographer's camera-equipment with having parts of it destroyed.

Also in the evening time trade unions organized a demonstration with between 5.000 and 8.000 participants who built a humen chain around the parlament. The protests basically targeted the planned cuts in the social security system. Here the police behaved more disgreet, only minor riots were reported.

For tomorrow morning, 7am, there are further demonstrations planned in front of the parlament.


A detailed documentation of the events is available at:
For more information in german language, please visit:

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