The Canadian BDS Coalition stands in solidarity a member of BDS Austria who is facing a lawsuit by the Municipality of Vienna for sharing a social media post with a picture of the famous “Visit Apartheid” poster. Please find more information on our case summary.
A member of BDS Austria is being sued by the Municipality of Vienna for sharing a Facebook post stating: ”Visit Apartheid – Free Palestine”. The Municipality has filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) to deliberately repress and intimidate BDS-Austria and Palestinian rights advocates. Such a tactic threatens democratic values and fundamental rights. The hearing at the Commercial Court of Vienna will take place on the 28th of January 2022.
This case is illustrative of the deliberate repression of Palestinian rights advocates in Austria through the adoption of anti-BDS measures (see legal opinion) and the controversial IHRA-Working Definition on Antisemitism, and now through a Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) aiming at silencing critical voices.
To push back against repression, the advocate along with the support of lawyer Elisabetta Folliero and the European Legal Support Center are challenging the lawsuit and a hearing will take place on the 28th of January.
We join with the European Legal Support Center and its mobilization of stakeholders in order to put pressure the Municipality of Vienna.
We kindly ask you to help in the following ways.
Ø Sign and share the petition co-sponsored by the ECCP (European Coordination for Committees and Associations for Palestine) to push the Municipality of Austria to withdraw its complaint and repeal its anti-BDS motion.
Ø Donate to help the activist with the legal fees and share the crowdfunding campaign.
Facts of the case
On the 29th of August 2021, BDS-Austria published a social media post with a picture of the famous poster stating “Visit Apartheid” that was stuck on a billboard along with the official logo of the Municipality of Vienna. The post had the sarcastic caption “We are pleased that the City of Vienna also takes note of apartheid and publicly states it”.
BDS-Austria is part of the international solidarity movement that aims to achieve justice for Palestinians under the framework of international law through means of boycotts, sanctions and divestment. BDS Austria’s work sheds light on apartheid in Palestine and also aims at pushing the Austrian authorities to take a just stance for Palestinian rights in line with their international human rights and legal obligations.
Yet, in November 2021, a member of BDS-Austria was notified that the Municipality of Vienna officially filed a lawsuit against him. According to the municipality, the BDS movement “incites to hatred against Israeli people” and therefore being publicly associated with BDS would amount to defamation since “the designation of the situation in Israel/Palestine as an “Apartheid” constitutes damage to our reputation”.
In January 2022, lawyer Elisabetta Folliero along with the ELSC, submitted a rebuttal against the SLAPP. The file included an expert opinion instructed by the ELSC and signed by renowned scholars, on the incompatibility of the anti-BDS resolution adopted by the Austrian authorities, with international and European human rights standards, including the right to freedom of expression.
On Friday 28 January, the judge will decide whether to approve the request of the Municipality of Vienna, which includes the prohibition by BDS Austria to make use of any signs which belong to the Municipality of Vienna.
Read more at European Legal Support Center website.