A Romantic Prison Overlooking a River, Cafe, Nightclub and Swimming Pool

A trendy Cafe made of glass in front of the Jail. Pic. Credit: Kawther Salam

سجن رومانسي يطل على نهر ومقهى وملهى ومسبح ومرقص ليلي في فيلد كيرخ في فورال بيرغ
من أجل بناء غواصات حربية لإسرائيل – الفن المعماري مهمل في مدينة لينداو
فوق جبال فيكتوربيرج وموتربيرج في فورالبيرج

Contrary to the awful horrors of the US and Israeli prisons, which deservedly have grim reputations due the crimes against humanity which are perpetrated there against political prisoners, the Austrian Court of Justice in Feldkirch in western Austria, which was established under the government of Kaiser Franz Josef I in 1905, sports a jail which is almost romantic.

The jail of the Feldkirch Court of Justice has windows overlooking the city of Feldkirch and the Ill River, which flows from the northern slopes of the Silvretta mountain range and then runs north-west through Vorarlberg. The Silvretta Alps are a mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps shared by Tirol, Vorarlberg (both in Austria) and Graubünden in Switzerland. Only the public street separates between the prison and the river.

From the left side, the prison overlooks a trendy Cafe made of glass, where the prisoners could hear the music during the day and until late hours of the evening. Only a few meters separate between the jails walls and this modern Café. The jail also overlooks a swimming hall which is often used for cultural events and as Nightclub, and beyond is the cities’ Music Conservatory. A beautiful green and flowering garden separates between the jail and swimming hall.

From the corner of the jail, the windows overlook a pedestrian bridge over the Ill River used by many people, couples kissing, enjoying time while hanging locks to symbolize their love at the sides of the bridge, perhaps also as a sign of willing to share a life together.

From behind, the jail windows give view to the green and mountainous forests of the Alps covered with snow flecks on the Swiss side. The jail surrounded with comparatively low walls, where one can see short barbed wire, less than half a meter over the top of the wall.

Standing in front of the Jail windows

What called my attention was that the prisoners are allowed the view from the windows of the jail which lets them see the free people enjoying their full freedom, sitting at the Café, drinking coffee or wine, listening to music and meeting their friends and acquaintances. No one knows how the prisoners feel while watching these scenes in the nearby Café made of glass. No one knows why the Café made of glass is directly in front of the jails windows.

The echoes of music from the swimming pool and club, which resonate from the nearby mountains until late hours, can also be heard by the inmates of the prison, who can overlook the hall, where cultural activities of city are held and respectable inhabitants of the city enjoy music and party. It must be hard for prisoners, held behind locked doors and walls, to see normal life, even festivities, being held under the barred windows of their jail.

It is not known if the prisoners dance in their cells while hearing the music from the nearby venues. Neither is it known why the city issued a license for the beautiful Café made of glass near the jail. Is this perhaps some sort of psychological torture next to the harsh sentences of these people? Or are the presence of the Café house, the nightclub and the beautiful view from the windows perhaps a show of kindness and compassion meant as relief to the prisoners from the pain of being lonely while held in prison? Is this justice or injustice?

 

A beautiful green and flowering garden separates between the jail and swimming hall (Pool Club).

 

Whatever my be the case, the prison of Feldkirch in its own human situation confirms without doubt that Austria respects the life of the individual and its residents and does not exercise suppression, violations of human rights by the overt practice of crimes such as torture and sexual abuses of the prisoners, practiced by many countries which called themselves “developed” and whose representatives all the while continue talking about human rights, like the prominent examples of zionist israel (and its occupation) and the USA, who openly keep “secret” jails, where everybody knows prisoners are tortured, used for medical experiments or even murdered in various Arab countries.

The US even supports and builds the jails for dictatorial regimes in Arab countries, like what they are doing now in my homeland Palestine, were the human rights situation has deteriorated drastically under the “Palestinian Authority”, a mafia under US military control, a corrupt body which loots the donations meant for poor people and whose bodies perpetrate all kind of crimes against members of the Palestinian civil society, politicians, academics, students, journalists etc. at its jails.

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