VIENNA (AFP) - A group of mainly Pakistani asylum-seekers who have been occupying a central Vienna church since mid-December moved out on Sunday and into a monastery where they have been offered shelter, organisers said.
The high-profile protest, which involved some in the group consuming only clear soup and liquids for a month, was to press for better conditions for refugees in Austria and the European Union. "We are happy that we can continue our efforts towards obtaining better conditions for refugees and a safe future for all in a new, open place and in regular accommodation," said Adalat Khan, a spokesman for the protestors.
The number of people taking part in the protest in the freezing-cold church varied between several dozen and a handful. Doctors had expressed serious concerns for the health of those on hunger strike. The protesters' demands included being able to choose where they live, access to jobs, schools and social security, and a halt to forced deportations.
But beyond promising to improve the provision of interpreters the government gave few concessions.
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner on Sunday criticised activists for "instrumentalising and giving bad advice" to the refugees "with the sole aim of provocation". But Alev Korun, a spokesman for human rights for the Greens, said the protest had succeeded in highlighting the need for reform. "The ball is in the interior ministry's court, there are no more excuses," she said.