Hands off our comrades! Austrian state attacks the IMT for Palestine solidarity – an update

As we recently reported, comrades of the International Marxist Tendency in Austria are under attack from the state apparatus for opposing the oppression of the Palestinian people. Two comrades have been falsely accused of ‘supporting terrorism’ for promoting the IMT’s statement against the war on Gaza. Below is an update on the legal case against our comrades Alex and Sonja. This is followed by some reports of the incredible wave of solidarity that our comrades have received.

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!

Free Palestine, hands off Sonja and Alex: an interim assessment

[Originally published in German at derfunke.at]

Sonja alex Image Der FunkeOver the last two weeks, we have organised a significant solidarity campaign / Image: Der Funke

Comrades Sonja and Alex, chair and vice-chair of the Socialist Youth (SJ) in Vorarlberg were questioned by the Feldkirch public prosecutor's office on Monday between 16:00 and 17:30 in a case that can only be seen as an outrageous attack on all solidarity with Palestine and the basic democratic right to freedom of expression.

Over the last two weeks, we have organised a significant solidarity campaign in their defence. In only 6 days after the start of the campaign, in Vienna, Vorarlberg, Styria, Upper Austria, Carinthia and Tyrol, revolutionary communists organised a total of 35 stalls and took part in 9 demonstrations and rallies. Comrades consistently drew attention to Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza and connected this to the state’s attacks on Sonja and Alex as consistent defenders of the Palestinian people. We sold 225 copies of Der Funke, the newspaper of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) in Austria, and met 59 prospective communists interested in joining us!

We also received dozens of solidarity messages from left-wing organisations (with the notable exception of the leadership of the Socialist Youth) and individuals from across Austria and all over the world. We collected around €3,000 in donations for legal aid from within Austria in less than a week. 

This campaign has also demonstrated the importance and power of a revolutionary international. Comrades from the Canadian section of the IMT not only sent a solidarity video from the 600 attendees of their Montreal Winter School, they also collected almost €1,800 in donations!

Der Funke and SJ Vorarlberg organised a rally in front of the public prosecutor's office in Feldkirch at the same time as Alex and Sonja’s interrogation, with 35 people taking part at the peak. A transcript of the main speech from the rally can be found in German here.

In the run-up to the event, capitalist media in Vorarlberg paid renewed attention to the case. Following an article by Vorarlberg Online, Mario Leiter – the current chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) in Vorarlberg – felt compelled to state publicly that “a communist has no place in social democracy” and announced further “consequences” for SJ Vorarlberg. 

In addition, the process of expelling Sonja and Alex from the SPÖ has been postponed awaiting a “legally binding decision from the criminal court”. It is therefore not surprising that – despite being invited – neither the leader nor other top functionaries of the SPÖ in Vorarlberg attended the solidarity rally for Sonja and Alex. They prefer to remain silent on the state apparatus’ attacks and instead pursue expulsions and other “consequences”.

Dornbirn Image Der FunkeThis case is about more than just showing that the comrades have done nothing wrong / Image: Der Funke

The response from ordinary workers and young people, especially migrants, however, has been completely different. These layers have for months been subjected to a racist smear campaign by the media and politicians under the guise of the fight against anti-Semitism. 

The contrast between their response and that of the bureaucrats at the top of the labour movement could not be clearer. To name just a few examples from Vorarlberg itself: a family who happened to see the rally in front of the public prosecutor's office listened to the speeches and expressed their solidarity afterwards by not only spontaneously donating €40 to the solidarity campaign, but also giving the participants some iced tea for refreshment. At one stall, a metalworker took a pile of leaflets to distribute to his colleagues. Two young people met our comrades while leafleting, immediately came with them to a meeting, and now want to join us.

This shows the true strength of working-class solidarity. While the bureaucrats of the labour movement fearfully kowtow to the bourgeoisie so as not to jeopardise the SPÖ’s chances of a coalition with the bourgeoisie, workers continually make sacrifices to fight against injustice, oppression and exploitation. 

This is the only way forward. The Austrian state’s politically-motivated attack on democratic rights and freedom of expression has not yet been averted. After Monday’s interrogation, the public prosecutor's office will now decide whether to press charges against Alex and Sonja. We have emphasised from the outset that the accusations are completely unfounded, which the comrades explained comprehensively during the hearing.

At the same time, this case is about more than just showing that the comrades have done nothing wrong. There is a lot of pressure from all parliamentary parties and the media to criminalise the movement in solidarity with Palestine. We must therefore remain focussed until all accusations against Sonja and Alex are completely off the table. When this is achieved, it will be a victory for Palestine solidarity and the entire labour movement. Therefore, we ask that our supporters continue to send us messages of solidarity, donate and get active with the revolutionary communists to actively fight against oppression and exploitation! 

International solidarity with Sonja and Alex

Italy Image Der FunkeSolidarity from Veneto, Italy / Image Der Funke

From the very beginning of the solidarity campaign on 16 February, the flood of anger against this political attack on our comrades has been immense. Messages and donations have come in from across Austria, as well as Belgium, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Spanish state, Sweden and Switzerland.

We share here a selection of images and reports from the comrades’ live blog of their campaign.


We express our full solidarity with Sonja and Alex. The cowardly ruling class can bark all they want – they can never succeed in dampening our ideas. For each act of ‘justice’, which seeks to silence the voice of revolutionary youth and workers, we will answer by shouting even louder, marching even more boldly, and struggling more widely for our cause.

Our ranks are getting more organised and mobilised. Sonja and Alex can proudly say they have withstood the most vile and hypocritical attack. In all the hue and cry over ‘antisemitism’ and ‘terrorism’, you are the real heroes of the oppressed and downtrodden masses. We are all on the right side of history. Our banner is clean – and brightly red.

We will not let any single comrade be left alone in the struggle. We have spread the word about this debacle, and we will shout it from the rooftops during our interventions and open meetings. Sonja and Alex are a symbol of a selfless fight for the future. Such an example is not easily forgotten.

We are not scared by the spasms of a system that refuses to die. We will learn, we will harden, and we will finally strike a fatal blow. Forward, comrades; boldly forward, against all odds!

Marcel, on behalf of the Executive Committee of Czerwony Front, the Polish section of the IMT

Milan Image Der FunkeSolidarity from Milan, Italy / Image Der Funke

I wish to express my support and solidarity with Sonja and Alex. I have spread the article on social media and shared it with friends. I am very angry on your behalf. This could have happened to any one of us (and probably will happen to many of us eventually). 

Your Canadian comrades have your back and we are following the story closely.

The veneer of bourgeois democracy is cracking. This is exciting for communists! Their attacks on you show their weakness. Soon we will topple them over and with them, the whole capitalist system and all its oppression.

Keep fighting the good fight! Solidarity!

Irene, Canada

Marburg Image Der FunkeSolidarity from Marburg, Germany / Image: Der Funke

Hi comrades! I just read the report on marxist.com and just want to express my complete solidarity with you – together we are strong! It fills me with a deep class hatred when it is the communists, who stand with the oppressed, that are being prosecuted, and not the bloodthirsty imperialist warmongers. You are not alone. We will continue the struggle in Sweden and all over the world. Intifada until victory!

Niki, Sweden

We are proud of the firm response of Der Funke and the comrades in the face of the attacks by the ruling class. You are truly showing a Bolshevik attitude against these attacks and slanders, and holding high the banner of communism.

Solidarity! Long live the Revolutionary Communist International, long live the working class and long live the socialist revolution!

Comrades of the IMT in Barcelona

With these hypocritical accusations, the Austrian state exposes itself as complicit in the massacre of Palestinians. We must not allow solidarity with the Palestinian people to be suppressed.

Kars, Switzerland

I think your position on the Gaza war is quite courageous. On the one hand because of your clear, unequivocally pro-Palestinian stance, and on the other hand because as an organisation you bring this to the public and don't just keep it to yourselves.

Israel's completely disproportionate and genocidal response to the attacks on the 7th is sold as legitimate self-defence, while an innocent civilian population in Gaza is used as a scapegoat. The facts on the ground in Gaza speak for themselves, even if they are not reported on ORF [the Austrian national public broadcaster] or are simply concealed.

Your position represents a rather unpopular opinion in the Western media landscape, but the fact that you are now being accused of terrorism for taking a position on the right side of history is a mockery of peaceful activism.

Stand firm!

Stefanie, Austria

As the crisis becomes clearer, criticism of the imperialists' hypocrisy is increasingly being blocked by the state. If we don't fight and show solidarity today, we will allow them to punish more and more courageous voices of the oppressed.

Here in Switzerland, too many have already lost their jobs because of their solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine. But we continue to fight. We will not be defeated. Fight with us! Hands off Sonja and Alex, long live international solidarity!

Ian, Switzerland

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