A Call to the Austrian State to Drop Its Charges against Michael Pröbsting!
The Austrian State is attempting to prosecute pro-Palestine activists for their Anti-Zionist views. On 20 April 2016, the Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism (the political police in Austria) summoned Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the RCIT, to answer charges of “sedition” and “inciting criminal action” (paragraph 282 of the Austrian Criminal Code). If convicted, Pröbsting can face up to one year in prison.
Michael Pröbsting is a long-time activist in solidarity with Palestine where he has visited two times. (1) For many years he has collaborated with Arab migrant communities in Austria and has frequently been invited to address their demonstrations and meetings.
The charges against Pröbsting are founded on a sentence of a speech he delivered half a year ago (!) at a rally outside of the Viennese headquarter of the United Nations. At the close of this speech, Pröbsting said the following: “I send my greetings to all courageous Palestinians who are fighting for their freedom and against the dictatorship of Israel. With all our hearts we will stand with the Third Intifada until the State of Israel is abolished and all people in Palestine can live together peacefully.” (2)
In his interrogation, Pröbsting repeated what he has stated repeatedly in public in speeches and writings for many years: He supports the one-state solution for Palestine, which means that all Palestine refugees will have the right to return to their homes and that the state of Israel should be replaced by a single state of Palestinian and Jewish people. When the police asked him if he supports terrorist attacks, he replied that he opposes terrorist attacks against civilians, but that he does support the armed resistance of the Palestinian people against the Israel army.
The public prosecution department of Vienna will now have to decide whether to press charges against Pröbsting and conduct a trial.
We strongly protest any such judicial prosecution of Michael Pröbsting and unequivocally reject the supposedly illegal nature of his viewpoint on solidarity with the Palestinian people and against the State of Israel. It is obvious that these charges, brought up half a year after the incriminating speech, are part of a political offensive by pro-Israeli forces. Similarly, these same forces tried to create a scandal when another organization invited the Palestinian liberation fighter Leila Khaled to a public meeting in Austria. (3) In Britain Anti-Zionists are currently expelled from the Labour Party. (4) In the United States supporters of the BDS campaign are facing numerous pressures.
We reject the slanderous accusation of Anti-Zionism as a “new form of Anti-Semitism.” We are opposed to the State of Israel, not the Jewish people. Quite the contrary, we share our Antizionist convictions not only with millions of people around the world supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle, but also with many Jews who oppose Zionism either because of political or religious arguments – including the Israeli-Jewish members of the RCIT section in Israel / Occupied Palestine. (5)
Three years ago, Johannes Wiener, another comrade of the RCIT, was threatened with similar charges because of a speech he delivered at a rally in which he expressed views similar to those of Pröbsting. At that time we initiated a campaign of solidarity and, as a result, the charges, which were pressed by a pro-Israeli organization in Austria, were ultimately dropped. (6) We call upon all friends of the Palestinian Liberation Struggle, and all who defend democratic rights, to join our solidarity campaign, to sign the following statement and to send it to the ministry of justice in Austria.
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Statement of Solidarity
Stop Judicial Prosecution for Solidarity with Palestine!
We Call upon the Austrian State to Drop the Charges against Michael Pröbsting!
We, the undersigned, are aware that Michael Pröbsting was summoned on 20 April 2016 to appear before the Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism due to a speech he delivered at a rally half a year earlier. In his speech, Pröbsting said: “With all our hearts we will stand with the Third Intifada until the State of Israel is abolished and all people in Palestine can live together peacefully.” Furthermore, we are aware that if the public prosecution department should open a trial against Mr. Pröbsting in which he is convicted, he can face up to one year in prison. Irrespective of our concrete perspectives about the future of the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation, we oppose any such judicial prosecution of Michael Pröbsting.
(1) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) is an international organization with a presence in 10 countries. The URL of its website is www.thecommunists.net and it can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) This speech was delivered at a rally held on 16 October 2015 organized by the Ahwazi Arabs, an oppressed national minority living in Iran. Michael Pröbsting was invited to address the rally. A brief report of that rally with links to pictures and a video of his speech (in German) can be viewed at http://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/solidarity-with-ahwazi-arabs/. The incriminating sentence starts at 4:00 minutes into the video clip.
(3) See on this e.g. OKAZ: Stellungnahme des Österreichisch-Arabischen Kulturzentrums (OKAZ) zur Hetzkampagne gegen die Diskussionsveranstaltung mit Frau Leila Khaled, http://okaz.at/stellungnahme-des-oesterreichisch-arabischen-kulturzentrums-okaz-zur-hetzkampagne-gegen-die-diskussionsveranstaltung-mit-frau-leila-khaled/
(4) See on this e.g. RED LIBERATION: Defeat Zionism in the Labour Party Statement, 30 March 2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/zionism-labour-party/
(5) See on this numerous articles in Hebrew, Arab and English language on the website of the Internationalist Socialist League, the RCIT-Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine: http://the-isleague.com/
(6) See e.g. RCIT: Victory! The Charge against RKOB Spokesperson and Palestine Solidarity Activist Johannes Wiener has been dropped! 10.1.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/solidarity-with-wiener-won/