AUSTRIA – Interview with two activists of the „Free Théo Committee“

Théo, a young worker from France and activist of the yellow vest protests, was arrested on July 22 this year by the French state. The reason for his imprisonment is an alleged participation in an action in the course of the protests against the labour law in 2017, so two years ago. He allegedly received official court letters, which were sent to an address where he never lived. The repression against the progressive frocks of the yellow vests protests is not a coincidence, but part of the hard repression of the French state against the justified struggle of the masses. By July 22, Théo started a hunger strike and called up to show international solidarity (we reported: Read here his first letter, second letter and third letter). Numerous solidarity actions in various countries of the world supported the demand of his release (we reported here). In this international solidarity campaign the „Free Théo Committee“ was founded in Austria and is an important contribution to international solidarity (visit the webpage of the Free Théo Committee). That is why we asked the activists of the „Free Théo Committee“ for an interview with NewEpoch and now we want to publish it for our readers.

New Epoch: Since when does the Free Théo Committee exist and why did you found it?

Free Théo Committee: After the imprisonment of comrade Théo and after he started the hunger strike and his first letter was published, various democratic and antiimperialist activists followed his call for solidarity and made numerous activities and actions for his release. The reactions and responses from these actions showed, that there is a broad solidarity and support in Austria with the yellow vest protests in France and their justified demands. With his letters from the prison Théo showed his steadfastness and consciousness about the political reason of his imprisonment and also that he continues the struggle for the interests of the masses and especially the working class also in prison. As a young worker and revolutionary he is a good example for a lot of people and that became clear to us already in the first solidarity actions. That is why we decided to found the Free Théo Committee to show our international solidarity until Comrade Théo will be free!

NewEpoch: What is the work of the Committee, which activities did you already do?

Free Théo Committee: Since the beginning there were actions all over Austria, which also were very creative in their implementation. One highlight shortly after the foundation of the Committee was a two days lasting offensive of agitation at a political event in Vienna. The highlight in this event was a very combative and strong banner-action (einfügen Links und Foto). The lively participation of numerous people confirmed the necessity of such a committee. Since then there is continuous agitation among the broad masses (for example in parks), where it was shown, that especially the lowest parts of the people, the workers and migrants, support the solidarity work. At a discussion evening, where there was made a contribution on the development and struggle of the yellow vest protests, it was shown to us very clearly which potential this topic has to struggle against defeatism, black painting. That is the strength of a people‘s movement! An activist even wrote a poem for Théo and the struggling masses in France, which since then is used as cultural contribution within the agitation.

NewEpoch: Who supports the Free Théo Committee?

Free Théo Committee: Different antiimperialist, antifascist, democratic and revolutionary forces. But in particular the work of the committee is relying on the broad masses, especially migrants, workers and women showed a lot of initiative. But also students, professors and other parts of the population supported the solidarity work. That is a reflection of the fact, that the movement of the yellow vests is a people‘s movement, which includes very broad parts of the people.

NewEpoch: What is the goal of the Free Théo Committee?

Free Théo Committee: The first and most important goal is of course the release of Théo! It is also the goal of the committee to learn from the protests, that if the oppressed and exploited masses unite in the struggle for their common interests, there will be successes! On this basis another goal of the committee is to develop and support the initiative of the masses in Austria. Facing the recent attacks of the last government against the workers and people, the rising of prices and also the situation of the lowest parts of the masses, it is necessary to carry a clear position regarding struggles like in France into the masses. But also in Austria there is repression against antifascists and revolutionaries and there the attitude of Théo is also very important.

NewEpoch: Why in particular the solidarity with Théo, there are a lot of prisoners of the yellow vest protests?

Free Théo Committee: Of course our solidarity is for all political prisoners of the yellow vest protests. We emphasize Théo, because he embodies the most progressive parts of the movement. By writing his up to now three letters from the prison, he gave the impulse for a broad international solidarity, which has antiimperialist and revolutionary character. He shows us that in the face of repression we should not loose courage, but must firmly trust in the masses.

NewEpoch: Which connection has the solidarity work with the political situation and class struggle in Austria?

Free Théo Committee: The yellow vest protests started because of the rise of fuel prices, but in its development more and more demands were included, which are directed against the attacks against the workers and people. Also in Austria more and more people stand against the recent attacks of the last government, like 12-hours working day, undermining of the social system and the price rises. Even though the ruling class in Austria is making lots of efforts to control the resistance and protests, more and bigger parts loose their trust in the system. In Austria the yellow vest protests are a good example, that there is no sense in being intimidated, but that we can reach a lot if we trust in our own force and firmly unite for our own interests.

NewEpoch: What ist the stance of the Austrian government on the yellow vest protests?

Free Théo Committee: Although the bourgeois media reported a lot on it in the beginning, now they report nearly nothing, even though the protests did not stop at all. Months ago they reported that the protests are decreasing, but it was not true. The chauvinism of the bourgeois media is very characteristic. They only tell us about the repression against the protests in Hongkong or Russia, but not about murdered demonstrators and hundreds of severely injured in France. That the EU even opposed the concessions made to the people‘s movement from the Macron-government, because of alleged damage of the French state budget, shows its real face, that it is against the people. Also Austrian politicians stressed in discussions on CO2-taxes, that they have to implement the taxes carefully, in order to prevent protests like in France.

NewEpoch: Do you want to say anything more?

Free Théo Committee: We want to thank you and address our international solidarity to Comrade Théo, who is in prison. As well we want to address our international solidarity to the numerous progressive and revolutionary activists of the yellow vest protests and to the masses who tirelessly resist and struggle. The „Free Théo Committee“ wants to make a contribution to support the justified struggles in France and thereby contribute to the resistance and struggle in Austria.

Freedom for Théo!

Long live international Solidarity!

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