Workers Vanguard No. 897

31 August 2007


Germany, France

Protest Government Repression Against Leftists!

As part of a crackdown by several European governments against left organizations in recent months, several leftist activists and professors in Germany are being accused of membership in the Militante Gruppe (Militant Group—MG), which the German state has deemed “a terrorist organization.” After having been spied on for a year, three people face long prison sentences after allegedly attempting to set fire to trucks of the German army (Bundeswehr). In addition, a sociologist at Humboldt University and a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin are accused of being MG members solely on the basis of their academic writings. The legal basis for this attack is paragraph 129a of the German criminal code, which gives the state the means to go after its perceived opponents on the basis of their beliefs and to imprison them without any evidence of any crime committed.

These attacks are a continuation of the brutal police attacks on leftists who protested against the imperialist Group of Eight summit in Germany in June (see “Germany: For Mass Working-Class Protest Against State Repression!” WV No. 894, 8 June). The state is trying to pin the label of “terrorist” on any leftist who expresses opposition to the exploitation and oppression of the capitalist system.

As a measure of the broad sweep of the attacks on the workers movement in Germany, Mag Wompel, editor of the Web site, is being sued by the Ixion firm for publishing material about a labor dispute. The supposed “defamation” consists of a posting on the Web site in which an Ixion worker used the word “capitalist” and described as “blackmail” threats by management that workers would lose their jobs if they refused to accept worse pay and working conditions. This is a frontal assault on freedom of speech that threatens anyone who supports workers struggles.

Left groups are also under attack in France, where the SMP Technologies company, supplier of taser guns to French police, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Olivier Besancenot, main spokesman for the pseudo-Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), and the group RAID-H (Human Rights Alert and Intervention Network). When newly elected right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy was Interior Minister, he equipped 3,000 police with the SMP’s Taser X26 paralyzing stun gun. Based on a 28 March 2006 report by Amnesty International, Besancenot argued that these guns have indirectly caused the death of dozens of people in the United States. He now faces a fine of 50,000 euros for damages under the lawsuit.

The Committee for Social Defense, associated with the Ligue Trotskyste de France, issued an August 27 letter to the French courts demanding, “Drop the charges against Olivier Besancenot and the RAID-H!” Noting a recently issued restriction on the right to strike for railway workers as well as roundups of immigrant workers, the letter stated that the attack on the LCR and RAID-H “targets all of the workers movement. It is intended to intimidate and send a clear message to all those who oppose increased state repression against the left, the unions, banlieue [working-class and minority suburb] youth and immigrants.”

Also, Gauche Révolutionnaire, French affiliate of Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International, reports in the July-August issue of their newspaper l’Egalité that two of their members were detained for three hours after ten cops descended on them while they sold their newspaper in the town of Creil. The “offense,” according to the title of the official police report, was “Unauthorized Street Selling of Militant Material Against the Head of State.”

If left unchallenged, these attacks on the left and the workers movement will serve as a precedent for silencing any criticism or opposition to the bourgeois rulers. Particularly following the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union, the capitalists and their government in Europe have attacked health care, pensions and other gains as part of their attempt to intensify the exploitation of the working class, the better to compete against their U.S. and Japanese imperialist rivals. The attempt to roll back these gains has met with resistance from workers and youth throughout Europe. It is in the direct interest of the workers movement to fight the rulers’ attacks on the left and their attempt to equate political opposition with terrorism.

We print below an August 21 letter by the Committee for Social Defense, associated with the Spartakist Workers Party of Germany, to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office protesting the attack on the Militant Group. Since the letter was written, the Humboldt sociologist, Andrej Holm, has been released on bail.

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Axel H., Florian L., Oliver R. and Dr. Andrej Holm have been held in investigative detention in Berlin since July 30-31, suspected of “belonging to a terrorist organization.” They are thus threatened with lengthy jail sentences under the rightly hated paragraph 129a pertaining to thought crimes. Three of the men are suspected of having tried to set a Bundeswehr vehicle on fire. Andrej Holm, a sociologist at Humboldt University, is accused of holding criminal political views and of having ties to the other people arrested. On the basis of his academic work and leftist activity, the charge of intellectual leadership of an ostensible “terrorist organization,” the “Militant Group” (MG), has been fabricated. Detention of this sort, resting on scholarly writings and connections, is a transparent fabrication intended to frighten academics and social scientists away from even researching social protest. In addition to these four, three other people, including Matthias B., are being investigated. Because he holds a doctorate in political science, Dr. Matthias B. has been accused of being intellectually capable of writing “the sophisticated texts of the ‘Militant Group’.” Additionally, it is claimed that “as an employee in a research institute, libraries were accessible to him that he could use inconspicuously to carry out the research requisite to drafting the texts of the ‘Militant Group’.” This charge is a threat to all those whose reading activities the state cannot yet keep track of via the Internet or other sources.

We protest these arrests in the strongest possible terms! We demand the immediate release of the four prisoners and the dropping of all proceedings against the seven accused.

Reportedly, the victims of these arrests have been persecuted and spied on in their most intimate activities for nearly a year in the search for pretexts for their arrest. The aim of such attacks on the elementary right to privacy can only be to threaten and isolate all those who protest against war, exploitation and oppression. This dismantling of democratic rights is ultimately aimed at the working class and its organizations.

These arrests constitute a further provocative escalation of state oppression of the left and the entire workers movement. They are in line with the arbitrary raids against leftist centers in the context of the protests against the G8 summit, including protests against the deployment of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan. When banning the demonstrations proved unsuccessful, the state unleashed massive terror against the demonstrators whom it is now trying to brand and persecute as “terrorists.” We stand with millions in defense of such justified protests against torture chambers like Guantánamo, against the bloody occupation of the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, against the daily racist deportations and massive assaults on wages and social benefits. We will do everything in our power to make this monstrous attack on the most basic democratic rights known to the international working class.

We demand that all surveillance of the accused and their families be stopped and that all the data that has been collected be wiped out. Now as ever we demand that the “anti-terror” paragraph 129a/b be stricken from the books!