Members of the clergy in Regensburg are accused of trying to ‘starve out’ migrants who occupied their church to protest being deported back to their home countries.
A tense standoff in a parish hall in Regensburg has led to the departure of four Roma families who had initially occupied the Regensburg cathedral in order to protest their deportations back to the western Balkans region.
After being denied asylum by the diocese in Regensburg, the clergy withheld food from the Roma and are accused of attempting to starve them out. Police had to be called in to remove the migrants after the clergy had given up attempts to remove them, reports Deutsche Welle.
In July, 40 Roma migrants occupied the cathedral in Regensburg along with left-wing pro-migrant activists. Since the initial occupation the diocese was able to move the migrants and their families to a parish hall where they received food, shelter and medication. The migrants had attempted to seek asylum with the church but were ultimately denied.
After reports by pro-migrant activists that the church had stopped sending the migrants food, the church decided to contact police and had charges of trespassing brought against the Roma. The church released a statement to the public saying that they had “no other choice than to increase the pressure” on the migrants to leave the parish hall.
While at its height the occupation saw around 50 migrants encamped at the parish hall, only some 16 were there when the church authorities asked for the police to remove them. A six-month-old baby and five other children were said to be among those who remained.
On Monday afternoon police began operations to remove the remaining migrants and asked them to voluntarily vacate the premises. The authorities closed off both sections of the road leading up to the parish hall and several vans and riot police were also on scene to push back any pro-migrant demonstrators, who have proved violent toward police officers in the past few months.
The pro-migrant activists who did appear are not reported to have confronted police but rather shouted pro-migrant slogans at them as the operation was under way. Two buses drove up to the parish hall and the migrants are all said to have been removed from the building.
Vicar General Michael Fuchs told press that he was “relieved” at the outcome of the police operation. “Our churches remain open for all people who want to pray, seek the silence or admire our churches,” he said but made it clear the church should not be used to circumvent government regulations or decisions.