Austrian state apparatus attacks the IMT over Palestine solidarity

In yet another scandalous attack on freedom of expression, a number of our Austrian comrades have been summoned by a state prosecutor for their support for the IMT and Palestine. We thoroughly reject the baseless accusations of the Austrian state, and express our complete solidarity with the comrades subject to this attack.

Our comrades in Austria are being persecuted by the state because they are the most consistent and determined defenders of the Palestinian people, in contrast to every other organised left-wing group in the country. Around the globe, communists are fighting not only to oppose the slaughter in Gaza, but to defend the basic democratic right to protest against Israel’s crimes. We refuse to be intimidated! If you are also enraged by the bloodbath in Gaza, and the complicity of your ruling class, then join the communists! We are launching the Revolutionary Communist International (RCI) in June: click here and register to attend!

The comrades of Der Funke in the State of Vorarlberg in Austria have been under constant harassment since the autumn, as a result of their activities in solidarity with Palestine. The press, the state, the bourgeois parties and the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) have done their utmost to put pressure on the comrades. The comrades have faced a flurry of hostile articles, including the naming of individual comrades, visits by the police at their homes and workplaces, scandalous false accusations and threats of expulsion from the (SPÖ).

Now, the state prosecutor’s office in Vorarlberg has taken things one step further and formally summoned the comrades to an interview, accusing them of supporting Hamas and terrorism.

Legal doc

The bundle of so-called evidence, compiled by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (LVT), tasked with monitoring ‘extremism’ and ‘threats’, is not evidence at all. It consists of screenshots of the Socialist Youth of Vorarlberg (SJV) sharing the IMT statement on Palestine on social media.

This was covered extensively in the press back in the autumn, and the comrades reiterated that it is perfectly possible to oppose Israel’s brutal occupation without supporting Hamas. But to defend Israel’s massacre of the Palestinians it is necessary to lump all opposition together and declare them all terrorist sympathisers.

The distortions got so bad that the state broadcaster, ORF even had to issue a correction and a retraction for misrepresenting the IMT statement on Palestine. The ORF, in an article entitled The Socialist Youth justifies the Hamas attack, claimed that the IMT defended the 7 October attack as part of a revolutionary struggle.

Speaker Image Der FunkeThe comrades of Der Funke in the State of Vorarlberg in Austria have been under constant harassment since the autumn / Image: Der Funke

This was actually something that the journalist had copied more-or-less verbatim from a press statement of a regional conservative MP of the youth of the Conservative Party (ÖVP) in Vorarlberg a few hours earlier. The very same slanderous accusation also found its way into an LVT police officers’ report.

It is, of course, a completely baseless lie. The IMT statement is perfectly clear on this question, under the heading: “Do we support Hamas?”

“Our enemies will say: then you support Hamas. To this accusation we will answer: we have never supported Hamas. We do not share its ideology, nor do we condone the methods it uses.

“We are communists and have our own ideas, programme and methods, based on the class struggle between rich and poor, oppressors and oppressed. It is this that determines our attitude in every case.”

The LVT has to admit that the statement distances itself from Hamas and the attacks. But as the IMT expresses sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, and explains what might lead Palestinians to cheer on the attack; in the warped minds of the ÖVP and the security police, this means that the IMT supports the attack.

The fact that Hamas is hardly mentioned in the IMT statement, and support is only expressed for the Palestinians, does not seem to bother the police one bit. But they decided, without any evidence whatsoever, that what the IMT really means when it speaks about supporting the rights of Palestinians is that it is supporting Hamas. Again, there’s not a sliver of evidence, but this doesn’t seem to cause them undue concern.

In reality, of course, this is not at all about evidence. It’s an attempt to intimidate these young comrades through legal harassment, and to criminalise Palestine solidarity. It is ironic that a state body that is supposed to “protect the Constitution”, and presumably the freedoms enshrined in that constitution, engages in blatant harassment of opponents of the government’s policy.

The fact that the lies stem from the ÖVP, the ruling party both in the state of Vorarlberg and nationally, makes it all the more damning. The cowardly, slanderous actions of social democratic leaders certainly helped to fuel the attacks on the comrades. They not only joined the most blatant slanders of leading conservative MPs in the national parliament against Der Funke and the SJV, but even contributed their own fantastical lies to the witch hunt.

Press slander Image fair useThis is an attempt to intimidate these young comrades through legal harassment, and to criminalise Palestine solidarity / Image: fair use

Regional SPÖ leader Mario Leiter accused the Vorarlberg comrades of expressing sympathies with people who slit children’s throats. The Viennese party general secretary Barbara Novak invented and promoted the claim that Der Funke stands for the “glorification of violence and terrorism”. The subservient social democratic leaders are sucking up to the establishment in the hopes that they will be allowed to enter government and manage capitalism on behalf of the ruling class.

The revolutionary communists of Der Funke constitute one of the organisations in Austria that has campaigned most energetically in defence of Palestine, in stark contrast to most of the cowardly Austrian left. This is what singled them out for attacks by the press and the whole establishment, which have published daily articles full of lies and slanders of this type.

Austria is of course not the only country where the 7 October attack has been used as an excuse for an assault on freedom of speech. All of the ‘Western democracies’ have engaged in an orgy of censorship and victimisation of pro-Palestine activists. Along with many others, our comrades in Switzerland, the US, Canada, Germany and Britain have been subjected to similar actions. We take the slanders of the bourgeois and their hired lackeys as a compliment. It shows that we are doing something right.

Today, the comrades of Der Funke are launching a nationwide campaign condemning the harassment of the comrades and the attacks on democratic rights. The IMT offers them our full support against this attack.

Freedom for Palestine! Hands off Sonja and Alex!

[The following is the appeal that the Austrian comrades published in German on their website at]

The ruling class internationally have been on the offensive against any organisation displaying solidarity with Palestine. The revolutionary communists of Der Funke – the Austrian section of the International Marxist Tendency – have been slandered and harassed by our political enemies for months. Now our comrades Sonja and Alex have been summoned to the public prosecutor's office as defendants, because they shared the IMT statement denouncing Israel’s war.

In conjunction with the attacks on Gaza, the ruling class has launched a wave of slander and persecution against all those who take the side of the oppressed – the Palestinians. Throughout Europe and the USA, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been banned; activists have been arrested and harrassd by the police, and fired by their employers; while pro-Palestinian events have been cancelled and speakers censored. In Austria, at least 13 gatherings have been banned, 400 legal charges have been filed, 10 people have been arrested and the judiciary is investigating more than 70 cases.

However, the Austrian state is now going one step further: it is claiming that the IMT statement Down with hypocrisy! For the defence of Gaza! is guilty of “inciting terrorism”, a crime that carries a maximum two-year sentence. This accusation is devoid of any truth and is simply a brutal attack on democracy and freedom of expression.

Demo Image Der FunkeThe revolutionary communists of Der Funke have been slandered and harassed by our political enemies for months / Image: Der Funke

The revolutionary communists of Der Funke have been slandered and harassed by our political enemies for months. The current defendants are our comrades Sonja and Alex, the chair and vice-chair of the Socialist Youth Vorarlberg, who are being targeted for sharing the IMT statement. They will be summoned as defendants to the public prosecutor's office in Feldkirch on Wednesday 21 February.

The IMT statement, now criminalised in Austria, has been distributed and reproduced in dozens of countries worldwide. Has the Austrian Ministry of the Interior really discovered something new here, or is this a simple case of politically motivated defamation?

We know that the latter is the case. On 18 October, the right-wing People's Party (ÖVP) in Vorarlberg launched a media campaign against us that rapidly spread throughout Austria and continued for weeks.

A particularly important role in this witch hunt against us has been played by politicians and the media. Raphael Wichtl, a member of state parliament and the youth wing of the People's Party (JVP), has never before achieved such political success as he has from starting this smear campaign. In his initial press release, he hysterically decried our solidarity with the Palestinians and claimed that our statement welcomed the Hamas attacks as a “revolutionary means” for Palestinian freedom. This defamatory press release was reproduced uncritically in several media outlets and can also be found in the state police’s investigation file.

The IMT statement clearly explains that, with regard to Hamas: "We do not share its ideology, nor do we condone the methods it uses." The young capitalists of the JVP – and all the other slanderers for that matter – have deliberately ignored this. They have been at pains to show solidarity with the actions of the Israeli state apparatus, which has since killed 30,000 Palestinians and is currently bombing Rafah, the last intact city in Gaza and the last refuge for over a million imprisoned Palestinians. The hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie is unrivalled.

The social democrats in Austria (SPÖ), meanwhile, are desperate to return to government and its leaders are prepared to capitulate at any cost. These ladies and gentlemen are using the bourgeois attacks on our principled revolutionary position to make their subservience to the ÖVP quite clear. In doing so, they are scraping the barrel to find whatever fantastical lies they can.

The chair of the SPÖ in Vorarlberg, Mario Leiter, used a press conference to claim that we sympathise with child murderers: “Imagine my son lives in a flat and terrorists come and slit his throat... and then perhaps our own people come along and say that everything is fine.” In addition, the SPÖ in Vienna, in particular its regional party secretary, accused us of “glorifying violence and terrorism”.

Comrade speaking Image Der FunkeWe stand for the international solidarity of the working class as the only force that can put an end to capitalist barbarism / Image: Der Funke

All those who agitate against the Palestinians and their defenders follow the same primitive logic: “Anyone who is not in favour of the genocide of the Palestinians must instead be in favour of the extermination of Jews.” This is absurd and shows that the logic of the defenders of capitalism can only lead to genocide and war!

The truth is that only through the class struggle, the methods of the labour movement, intifada and socialist revolution can the barbarism in the Middle East be ended. This is what we stand and fight for as revolutionary communists.

Instead, the ruling class and the reformists support oppression and exploitation. All parliamentary parties in Austria are “unconditionally” backing Israel and are scapegoating Muslims and migrants in this country.

This is profitable for them in several ways. The Austrian ruling class want to show Washington and Brussels that they are firmly committed to “Western values”, despite their wheeling and dealing with the West's main enemy – Vladimir Putin. But the Palestinians? They have nothing, not even the half-state that they were guaranteed 30 years ago. This makes them the perfect target for the ruling class to prove their loyalty to their Western friends.

Stomping on the weak also helps the ruling class deal with their problems at home. Their goal is to hammer the working class so that it cannot oppose further real wage cuts and attacks on working conditions! The bosses demonstrated this tactic in the autumn by sabotaging collective bargaining negotiations with the metalworkers, due to “anonymous threats against representatives of the industry for which the trade unions are partly responsible.”

We stand against this hypocrisy. Dividing the working class only strengthens the exploiters. We stand for the international solidarity of the working class as the only force that can put an end to capitalist barbarism!

Withdraw all accusations against Sonja and Alex!

Long live international solidarity! Stop the criminalisation of solidarity with the Palestinian people!

Down with the racism and division of the ruling class in Austria!

For class struggle against all attacks by the capitalists on workers' rights, wages and democratic rights!

For a socialist revolution in the Middle East and internationally to end the barbarism of capitalism!

What can YOU do?

If you want to help fight back against these slanderous attacks on revolutionary communists, here are some ways you can help:

Show solidarity

Share this article as widely as possible on social media and with colleagues, friends, family, acquaintances or others. It is often surprising where like-minded people can be found!

Our comrades in Austria have produced this flyer in German, explaining the attacks on them.

Solidarity messages can be sent by email to the following address:

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