>The news today is all about the imminent deportation of yet another well-integrated Kosovar family who’d been denied asylum in Austria. Earlier this year a Kosovar teenager named Arigona Zogaj, who’d made headlines in 2007 when she ran away from home and sent videos to the press threatening suicide if forced to leave the country, did end up leaving, together with her mother and two siblings.
In this recent case, a couple and their two young daughters, living in the country since 2004, were told that their application for asylum had been denied. The mother had a breakdown and threatened to kill herself, and was hospitalized yesterday. Early this morning the father and the two girls, both nine years old, were taken from their lodgings with no time to pack and put into pre-deportation custody. Plans are currently for them to be deported to Kosovo on Thursday without the mother. One wonders if the authorities just assume she will rally at the last minute and be released to join her family.
I’ve been having a hard time forming a defensible opinion about immigration laws here, being a “guest worker” myself, albeit with the privileged “artist” status. I find Austria to be less welcoming to foreigners than Germany. There are certainly more stories of racism, of police brutality against people of color, of small-town bigotry and not-so-hidden nazi sympathies. That said, there is probably more actual violence happening in Philadelphia tonight than in all of Austria.
I find the idea of deporting two small children to a country they do not know, while their mother remains behind in the hospital, just senseless. What on earth are they trying to prove here?
A less clear topic, and one I find the press also avoiding, is the situation in Kosovo right now. It’s been 11 years since the war ended, Kosovo has declared independence and that’s been recognized by 70 UN-member nations. Relations between Serbs and ethnic Albanians are probably as dismal as ever, but these days one hears next to nothing. Is it fair to deny asylum to someone whose country is not at war? Probably. Is it necessary that a family — in the country for 6 years, speaking excellent German and having no criminal record — be forced to return there in order to work on getting back here? I don’t know. Those are the rules, if you’re denied asylum you cannot then try another tactic. However, the changing situations in recently warring countries call for exceptions to be made. Kosovo then is not Kosovo now, and yet in the meantime many applicants are fully integrated into Austrian communities.
It had been reported at the time that the Zogajs could apply for visas relatively soon, and that the children had an excellent chance of obtaining educational visas (staying with a guest family or at a boarding school.) Whether that is all blah blah remains to be seen. In the meantime, the two girls and their father are supposed to be shipped out in the early hours tomorrow, despite calls for a delay. We’ll know tomorrow what happened.
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