Monday, November 30, 2009

Asylum Story

Some friends of ours are "sponsors" for a young man from Afghanistan who fled his homeland and landed in Austria. I'll call him A. Yesterday over brunch, I got an update on A. and his struggle for Austrian personhood.

A doesn't know his age: though his papers say he is 23, he's probably more like 28-29. Back in Afghanistan, someone known to him killed A's brother. As is the custom there, A could have taken what the Austrians call "blut rache" (blood revenge) and rightfully killed his brother's killer. Naturally the killer knew this, and in what may be a logical progression in Afghanistan, the killer therefore swore that he would also murder A before A could kill him.

A left Afghanistan.

Austria may be less violent than Afghanistan, but of course it isn't just peachy for people like A. After eight years here and many meetings with the immigration authorities, A has the legal right to stay in Vienna and even work (!) here. But he'll have to wait another seven years before he can become an Austrian citizen.

And even though he's got a work permit, A still has that refugee head. He doesn't really know that he has some of the same protections that other Austrian workers have. So at his last few jobs, A's bosses have paid him under-the-table, sub-standard wages.

The other day, our friends took A to his local trade union. The man they met with there listened to A's story, looked at his papers, then turned to A and said, "Comrade, why do you let these bosses treat you this way?"

Socialism 1, Assholes 0.

No comments: