Austrians expressed shock and anger this week over the suicide of physician who had been the goal of a torrent of abuse and threats from anti-vaccination protesters.

The bells of Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral rang out in reminiscence of Lisa-Maria Kellermayr on Monday, and a whole lot of individuals held a candle vigil exterior, after the 36-year-old physician was discovered useless at her apply on July 29.

She had lengthy been the goal of dying threats due to her criticism of the widespread anti-lockdown protests of 2021.

An post-mortem later confirmed that Kellermayr had taken her personal life.

Austria has discovered itself deeply polarized over coronavirus restrictions and specifically a authorities coverage -- subsequently dropped -- of constructing vaccination in opposition to the coronavirus obligatory.

Kellermayr -- whose apply was within the area of Higher Austria the place immunization charges are significantly low -- had continuously complained of the menace.

"For greater than seven months, we've got been receiving... dying threats from these against coronavirus measures and vaccinations," she wrote on the time, sharing a message from one web consumer who mentioned they might pose as a affected person with the intention to assault her and her employees.

She described how she had "invested greater than 100,000 euros" ($102,000) in measures to make sure her sufferers' security and was getting ready to chapter.

Then, on the finish of June, Kellermayr introduced on her skilled web site that she wouldn't be seeing sufferers till additional discover.

Daniel Landau, who organized a memorial vigil for her in Vienna, mentioned that Kellermayr had change into a digital recluse for a number of weeks.

"She did not dare to depart" her workplace, Landau instructed AFP.

Fanning the aggression

On Saturday, the pinnacle of Austria's docs' affiliation, Johannes Steinhart, mentioned that whereas aggressive conduct in the direction of medical employees was not new, it had been "fired up and noticeably aggravated" by the talk over Covid-19 and vaccines.

The police, who had beforehand instructed Kellermayr was exploiting the state of affairs for consideration, insist they did every thing to guard her.

The native prosecutor's workplace additionally rejected options it might have completed extra.

"As quickly as we obtained the police report (figuring out one of many suspects), we despatched it over to the related authorities in Germany," spokesman Christoph Weber mentioned.

On Friday, prosecutors within the neighboring German state of Bavaria mentioned a 59-year-old suspect was being investigated by a specialist hate speech unit.

Originally of the week, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen visited the small city of Seewalchen the place Kellermayr lived to put flowers in her reminiscence.

After information of her dying broke, he had appealed to Austrians to "put an finish to intimidation and concern".

'They're gagging us'

However on some Telegram teams, the hateful messages proceed.

"Some individuals are celebrating her dying; others imagine the vaccine killed her," mentioned Ingrid Brodnig, a journalist and writer who investigates on-line disinformation.

"Strict legal guidelines exist" already in opposition to on-line hate, however not sufficient is completed to implement them, Brodnig mentioned.

One authorities minister has floated the concept of a separate prosecutor's workplace to focus on such circumstances.

Docs and researchers have additionally been focused elsewhere.

French infectious illness specialist, Karine Lacombe, described how she had been vilified for her work as a part of a collective of docs combatting coronavirus-related disinformation.

She, too, complained that the response from the authorities within the face of threats was not strong sufficient, and has scaled down her public appearances this 12 months.

"You find yourself pondering that the chance is not price it," she instructed AFP.

"In that sense (the aggressors) have gained, they're gagging us," she mentioned.

© 2022 AFP

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