Johannes Wiener, a young socialist and Palestine solidarity activist in Vienna, Austria, has been accused of “sedition” and has been ordered to appear at offices of the “Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism.” His alleged crime was to deliver a speech in solidarity with Palestine at a rally on November 16 against the recent Israeli war on Gaza.
Wiener, who spoke for the Austrian group RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organization for Liberation), faces a sentence of up to two years in prison. In his speech he called for victory for Palestine and “Down with Israel!” He led the chant, “Palestine Will Be Free, From the River to the Sea!” (His speech, in German, can be seen at Free Palestine! Gegen einen Einmarsch Israels in Gaza!.)
As the RKOB observed, the charge is part of an effort to suppress anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist positions. They write: “The accusation of sedition is nothing but an attempt to criminalize a long-standing socialist and anti-imperialist position: to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and to characterize Israel as an apartheid state. Those who dare to speak out the truth should be sentenced, fined or even put in prison. Such an attempt to criminalize even the public expression of this position is unique in Austria.”
Today, sympathy for the Palestinians’ plight is growing, even in the United States. Meanwhile the apartheid state of Israel, a colonialist state created on the basis of the ethnic cleansing and brutal repression of the Palestinian people, is becoming exposed for its racist and war-mongering crimes in the eyes of more and more people around the world. In this context, we can expect Israel’s allies to increase their attempts to repress voices of solidarity with the Palestinians. That is why it is important to stand in solidarity with Johannes Wiener and join the campaign demanding that the charges against him to be dropped.
For further information, see the RKOB’s report, in English: No to Criminalization of RCIT activist!.