Interview with Alan Can, Kurdish Syrian refugee in Vienna, Austria, January 2016
Below we republish an interview with Alan Can, a Kurdish Syrian refugee in Vienna, Austria. He reports about the difficult situation for refugees and the numerous obstacles created by the state authorities. He also reports about the lack of support by Austrian progressive organizations for the refugees except the RKOB (Austrian section of the RCIT). The interview was conducted by Lionel Zivals, a leader of the Argentinean Trotskyist organization Tendencia Piquetera Revolucionaria (TPR) during a visit to Vienna. The interview was initially published on the TPR webiste here: http://tpr-internet.blogspot.co.at/2016/02/austria-interview-with-alan-can-kurdish.html
Hi Alan, could you tell us when, how and why did you come to Austria?
Hi, Yes. I escaped from north Syria (Rojava) about one year and a half ago, because of the war, and in order to find a proper place to bring my family with me. I cross to the kurdish part of Turkey, and I worked for some months near Diyarbakir, as I didn't have the money to travel. Then, with others Syrian refugees, we took a boat from Izmir (in the mediterranean coast of Turkey) to Greece. We travelled across Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, in order to arrive here. The situation we are living there in Syria is very bad. Now my family is not in direct danger, but I want to bring them with me.
How were you treated when you arrived here?
First they took me to the police and they made me a lot of questions. That was in the main refugee camp of Austria, Traiskirchen. I said I knew some people in Austria, so they kicked me out of the camp. I didn't know where to go, so I tried to get inside the camp again, but they told me that it was already full and I have to find my way alone. So I went to a Charity House, there they told me I could go to Paribian 6 (another refugee camp in a stadium). The situation in the stadium was awful. We were living in tents above the grades, so I left after 5 days. Finally I arrived here, Hiertzig, an old hospital that is being used as a refugee camp, where thousands of people are located.
And which is your current situation in your camp?
Our situation is very bad. We are kept into small rooms with lot of people, and we are not able to do nothing. They give us bread, jam and cheese as food everyday, and we are not allowed to find a job. We are supposed to receive 40 eur (44 USD) a month, given by the state. But in the first 3 months, we didn't receive anything. The camp is administrated by Samariterbund, an NGO connected with SPÖ (Austrian Socialdemocratic Party), which is the majority in the government. They were also running the other camp in the stadium. Also they are very strict with the arrival time at the camp. Basicly, the hold us here, doing nothing, waiting. We want to be allowed to work, to learn German (official language in Austria) and to bring our family with us.
How did you react to this situation? Were there any protests of the refugees?
People are very afraid. They think that maybe austrian government will send us to Syria again. We had lots of meetings with the refugees, discussing our demands. We want the right to move without restrictions, to work, to have our subsidy despite your are accepted or not (if the government does not give you the title of 'accepted refugee', you don't even earn that little money). Now the situation is worse because after the incidents in Colonia [A massive sexual attack by around 1000 men is being used against migrants and refugees due to the “arab or north african origin” appearance of the assaulters, Independent.co.uk, January 5th], the propaganda against migrants is bigger. Even now, some people in the street get away from me when they listen I am speaking arabic or kurdish. Notwithstanding, I know people in Germany who organized a demonstration inside the refugee camp and they achieved to improve their situation. They were in a basketball field and they were moved to a hospital. So I told my comrades that we should do the same. Actually, I told them we don't have nothing to lose. If they throw us away from the country, that may show that this european governments are like Al-Assad or Al Sisi. But I don't want to wait anymore, I cannot stand here doing nothing. Either I get what I deserved, or I am deported to my country again.
Which was the attitude of the left organizations, migrant communities, etc?
Actually, the only organization that came to support us is RKOB. There are also some individuals, mainly migrants, that come to help us. But not the migrant communities.
Didn't Communist Party, Green Party or any other organization come to talk with you?
No. Even the BDP (political-electoral wing of the kurdish movement) didn’t come to talk with us, despite they have office in Austria and it’s known that lots of kurdish refugees arrived here.
What do you think about situation of the kurdish people now?
I support YPG in syrian kurdistan, they protect us. Nowadays, kurds in Turkey are under the assault of Erdogan. He is like Al Assad now
How can we help refugees struggle?
By this, making our situation public and known. Our living conditions and our demands are hidden by the media. I hope this interview would be a call to the people to know our struggle. Many thanks.