We are documenting Elisa’s speech at the Thursday demonstration on October 11 in Vienna.
“I am here in the name of the Solidarity Campaign #FreeMaxZirngast. Max Zirngast is an activist and journalist, who’s been detained in Turkey for a month now. He lives and works in Ankara since 2015. I got to know Max as part of the “Unibrennt!” protests in Vienna (huge protest against the restructuring of the academic system in 2009/2010, Red.). Already at that time we committed and demonstrated together.
We not only founded the Solidarity Campaign for Max because he is a friend of ours, but above all because he is a political companion. Ever since Max and I became friends, we are all connected by the fight that has brought you back to the streets here and now. Max and I learned a lot from each other as part of Unibrennt. Among other things, we learned that justice, solidarity and freedom are not at all self-evident. Instead, we understood that we live in a society where racism, sexism and merciless profiteering are seen as normal.
So we decided: We do not agree with such a normality! That’s why we started to defend ourselves against these attacks on our lives. This fight, which not only unites Max and me and all of us here – this fight for justice – ultimately brought Max Zirngast into Turkish jail.
But because you cannot just criminalize journalism, he is accused of being a member of a terrorist organization. He is partially isolated, intimidated and put under absurd questioning under pressure. Meanwhile, the charges are kept secret, so as not to risk release on grounds of lack of evidence. A tactic that is not new in Turkey and endangers the opposition in general. The message of the Turkish state is, that those who stand up for justice and defend themselves against injustice will be punished.
However, the repression of critical movements and voices is not a Turkish peculiarity. The year 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the animal rights process in Austria. On May 21, 2008, ten activists were arrested in Austria and the animal liberation movement was criminalized. This was done on behalf of the Ministry of Interior to protect the garment industry, which saw its fur sales threatened by successful animal rights campaigns. These ten young people were then detained in custody. But that was not enough, they also plunged them into years of life-destroying legal proceedings – before they were finally “acquitted”. About it, there is a very good documentation online, “The Process” by Igor Hauzenberger.
2018 is also a year after #metoo – The year in which Sigi Maurer (a member of the green party in austria, Red.) is convicted of damages to reputation by an Austrian court, because she dared to defend herself against a perpetrator who threatened her with sexist hate speech. Just as 2018 is also the year in which the Ministry of the Interior wants to muzzle the police when they speak to the press. Repression Made in Austria.
It is an Austrian reality that is getting worse every day. The direction points exactly into the authoritarianism that we also experience in Turkey. This danger is real. That’s why we have to oppose this normality: at home, at work, on the street – and from now on: every Thursday!
And we will stand firm against this normalcy, because if the pursuit of justice becomes a crime, the real crime scene is in the parliament! And this crime scene we only grew together! On behalf of the Solidarity Campaign, I say thank you to the great organization of “It’s Thursday Again!” Thanks to all who are here today and will be taking part in the future.
It’s Thursday again! We are now together!
#FreeMaxZirngast and Freedom for all Political Prisoners!”