Minister: refugee hunger strike is blackmail
Concern grew on Thursday over a group of refugees on hunger strike in central Munich demonstrating for humane treatment. Several are in hospital - but authorities have made their lack of sympathy with the cause clear.
Members of a group of around 100 refugees camping out in central Munich - who have refused food for the past five days and water since Tuesday - have been taken to intensive care, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung late on Wednesday.
The group, who call themselves the “Non-Citizens” set up camp last Saturday in a protest for rights and better treatment.
They and their supporters are calling for an end to policies which see refugees confined to a limited area, refused work permits and given food packages rather than cash, while subsisting in mass accommodation, waiting months in often squalid conditions for a decision to come through about asylum applications.
As the hunger strike grew serious on Wednesday, representatives met regional politicians, but the newspaper said little progress was made, with both sides showing little willingness to compromise.
“Here in this country politics is not open to blackmail, we live in a state under the rule of law, where people can't force preferential treatment through hunger strikes,” the paper quoted Bavaria state social affairs minister Christine Haderthauer as saying.
Ignoring Haderthauer's appeals for them to eat, the group seems set on getting their message across in a high-profile protest which has already become life-threatening for some. On Tuesday the first demonstrator was taken into intensive care after losing consciousness, with a further three admitted on Wednesday.
In September last year several hundred left refugee centres in Bavaria and walked to Berlin to camp out and demonstrate – yet they failed to attract much political reaction. Now, they are ramping up the stakes.
“The fate of these people affects me personally,” protest supporter Karin Gerber told the paper. “We are such an incredibly rich country!”
But Munich's rich are part of the problem, wrote the paper, who often go to great lengths to prevent new refugee housing being built in their back yards.