Italians plan third refugee demo at Austrian border

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Graffiti at the Brenner border. Jörg Wojahn/Twitter
11:03 CEST+02:00
A third protest against border controls is set to take place this Saturday at the Brenner border between Italy and Austria.

Left-wing Italian demonstrators are planning a day of action at Brenner, although they have not applied for official permission to protest either from the Italian or Austrian authorities.

One organiser - under the name Massimo - spoke about the planned action on an internet radio site.

He said: “We will hold the event on the Italian and Austrian side at the time same. If the democratic totalitarians want to erect fences, we will as enemies not accept the borders and make it impossible.”

Four hundred participants are expected to take part at the upcoming weekend demonstration. It will be the third such demonstration to take place at the Brenner border.

At previous protests, which had been registered with authorities prior to the event, several hundred demonstrators turned up and around the same number of police.

At the first protest estimates of between 500 and 800 people from Italy, Austria and Germany marched to the border in what began as a peaceful event but descended into violence between 50 participants and police. Five officers were injured in the clashes.

The second protest, which took place two weeks ago, saw hundreds of mostly Italian protesters push up against a line of Austrian riot police.

The demonstrators are angry about the measures being taken at the border checkpoint, including preparations for a 400-metre-long fence that Austria says it will erect if Italy does not cooperate with controlling the number of migrants and refugees crossing the border.

From the end of May, Austria will also introduce border checks in the area, similar to those already in place along the country’s southern and eastern borders.

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South Tyrol police say they are taking the latest activity from the protesters seriously and authorities on both the Austrian and Italian side of the border are in contact with each other in relation to the event.

“This group are being observed and, following the announcement that reached us, there will be an appropriate police presence,” said South Tyrol’s provincial head Arno Kompatscher.

Police - who at the last protest deployed 300 officers - say they are preparing for a possible large operation on Saturday.

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