AKTIONSTAGE: Refugees Migration Democracy

From November 29th until December 2nd, the conference named AKTIONSTAGE: Refugees Migration Democracy was held in Vienna. The event was organised by: Initiative Minderheiten, Center for Advanced Studies South Eastern Europe (CAS SEE), ERSTE Stiftung, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), asylkoordination österreich, arge region kultur, GBW Minderheiten, Interkulturelles Zentrum (IZ), Karl-Renner-­Institut and it was also supported by: MA 17 – Stadt Wien, Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.

The conference was divided into two parts:

  • The first part which was held at the Academy of Fine arts, called: “The new faces of democracy! European experiences. “
  • The second part took place the OBB headquarters at the Hauptbahnhof, named “The new faces of solidarity! Civil society and activism. “

The focus of the first day was on (not) learning from the history--Yugoslav refugee crisis and how Europe dealt with it. Participants at pannel discussions included: university professors from Sweden, Austria, USA, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, members of international organizations. Some of them were refugees from the Yugoslav period and they spoke about their experiences. After the panel discussions there was a public debate titled: “Polarization and securitization: Fear re-shaping European democracies”

The second day of the first part was followed by a panel discussion:” A new Europe: Renationalization or a new political union?” And another panel discussion: “Towards a new research agenda: Debate and exchange on current topics and critical junctures for thinking and researching in the field of refugees, migration and democracy. “ At the second panel, the participants were activists and volunteers from Greece, Serbia, Croatia and Austria.

In the second part, the emphasis was on new forms of activism within the civil society, particularly along the “West Balkan Route”, in Sweden, and in rural areas.   

The first panel was: “Transfer zone railway station.” Participants on this panel discussion were activists from Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade. The focus was on the railway station in Vienna. Unlike Macedonia, where the ticket prices from 6 Euros became 25 Euros, in Austria the ticket price remained the same and refugees had the same treatment as all other passengers.

The second panel was called: “Civil society – International corporations”. Part of this panel was Driton Maliqi from Legis, he represented our organization and answered questions from the audience and the moderator.

After the panel discussions, three workshops followed. Activists from Legis participated in the workshops.  The discussions revolved around migration in Europe but also in other parts of the world, how to tackle root causes, solidarity with transit/host countries in the global south, and solidarity with refugees outside Europe.

At the end of the day there was a public debate on constructing the “Refugee Crisis” and the role of the media. The participants were journalists who continually have been reporting on the refugee crisis.

The last day from the conference was in German language because it was about discussing local projects and initiative but translation was provided.

After the panel discussions, a Theater of Shadows followed--  through pictures was shown the route of the refugees from their home till the end of their destination – all of which was followed by a guitar and a text in German and Arabic. The actors in the theatre were refugees from Iran and Syria.

At the end of this conference a film titled “Logbook Serbistan" was shown which was filmed in 2014 -- it depicted the route of the refugees through Serbia, the conditions in the transit centers, the behavior towards the refugees of the people in charge, the problems that they faced while leaving the country.