GENEVA – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) is deeply concerned at the human rights violations committed by the Austrian security authorities, during the broad raids carried out in 4 provinces, which included the arrest of at least 30 Arabs and Muslims.
Austrian police, on November 9, launched raids on more than 70 houses across four provinces in Austria, with orders given for 30 Muslims to be arrested. Among those affected by the campaign are several former officials from the Austrian Council for the Islamic Religion, in addition to an employee at the institute in charge of training religious teachers in public schools, and also includes academics, doctors, and officials of associations.
These raids have shown a clear disregard for basic human rights principles and rules of law in Austria, as well as intimidation and exaggeration in order to mislead public opinion by a so-called successful security operation against “political terrorism
The Styria region prosecutors’ office said in a statement that “the operation has no connection to the terror attack in Vienna of Nov 2”, but was the result of “intensive and comprehensive investigations carried out for more than a year”.Geneva council considers the Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nihamer’s statement that the security operation launched by the police aims to “cut off the roots of political Islam”, indicates that the matter is related to a campaign linked to a political position or religious orientation, and not related to specific legal violations.
It also affirms that the security operations based on religious belief, faith, or political orientation, constitute a grave violation of the right to freedom of belief and freedom of opinion and expression, which was guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as local laws that guarantee freedom of belief and expression.
GCRL notes that the raid campaign was politically motivated and was marred by a number of human rights violations during arrest including storming homes at night, breaking down the doors of many homes, causing terror to residents with total disregard for children and women, seizing money and documents without warrants.
Geneva Council warns that the detainees and the inhabitants of the houses including children were asked offensive irrelevant questions violating privacy, such as prayer or social customs, as well as the position on the Palestinian issue. Geneva Council firmly condemns terrorist attacks, expresses its full solidarity with the victims, and stresses the importance of prosecuting perpetrators of these attacks in accordance with the law. GCRL also denounces any attempt to use this incident to commit discriminatory violations on the grounds of religion or belief.
It also expresses its concern over politically motivated actions of the dissolution of associations and closing mosques without legal justifications considering them a form of collective punishment. The Council calls on the Austrian government to review procedures and decisions that contravene human rights and the law, to investigate violations committed by the security authorities, and to stop any crackdown of a political nature or on freedom of expression or belief.