We are happy to report some good news from Lyon, France! You’ll recall that last month we sent some emergency support to help provide for the legal defence of seven antifascists there after a confrontation with les fachos this past summer. The situation was grim, with three of our friends in pretrial detention for weeks and all of them facing the possibility of years behind bars.
On 4 November the family & supporters of the seven defendants packed a Lyon courtroom to witness a brilliant legal display as our friend’s defence lawyers – lawyers who the defendants were able to hire thanks in no small part to our contribution – tore the prosecution’s case to shreds!
This story goes into full detail about the day’s proceedings. Suffice to say, not having a working copy of the surveillance video that was to be the centrepiece of the prosecution’s case was encouraging. Then the defence lawyers brought up the illegal searches of the accused’s homes; the lack of “victims” willing to come forward to testify or provide evidence; and the attempt to criminalise anti-fascism and even anarchism by using anti-fascist/anarchist stickers & books as “evidence” in the case. At times, the ludicrious nature of the prosecution’s case merited outbursts of laughter from the gallery.
In the end, the defence’s arguments – that the police knowingly concealed video evidence, refused to produce witness, and tried to frame anti-fascism as a crime – won out! Three of the seven defendants are acquitted completely; four are found guilty on the most minor of charges and fined €300; two of the four received one-month suspended sentences for refusing to provide the police with the password for their cell phones or DNA samples.
This was a huge victory for anti-fascism in a city rocked by fascist attacks in recent months and it was made possible in no small part by the contribution we were able to send to pay for good lawyers to defend our friends! If you’ve ever made a contribution to The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund, you were a key part of this victory! Please take time today to raise a glass to yourselves! If you haven’t yet made a contribution to the Defence Fund, there is no time like the present to do so!
No place is immune to the creep of fascism, but you’d think Germany — of all places — would be especially averse to right-wing nationalists and demagogues and supportive of anti-fascist causes.
Sadly, it seems the opposite is true, as in the recent case of Jo and Dy – two anti-fascists who are now serving harsh prison sentences for the “crime” of defending the German city of Stuttgart from fascists.
The two activists were arrested after a physical confrontation with members of the fascist group “Zentrum Automobil” on May 16, 2020 during the right-wing Querdenken anti-lockdown, COVID-19 conspiracy protest march in Stuttgart. The state used the confrontation as a convenient excuse to further crack down on anti-fascist activity in Stuttgart and surrounding cities. It quickly became apparent that the specially-created investigation group “Wasen” aimed above all at weakening and intimidating the anti-fascist movement.
The trial itself was politically motivated and it seemed Jo and Dy’s conviction was a foregone conclusion, despite shaky and questionable evidence, blatant falsehoods and conspiracy theories from the prosecuting attorneys and the inability of supposed eyewitnesses to positively identify Jo and Dy.
At the end of the trial, Jo and Dy received the outrageously severe sentences of 4.5 years and 5.5 years in prison, respectively. The conviction and the harsh sentences are part of a recent and growing trend by German authorities to suppress the far-left and to deter anti-fascists in particular.
Throughout the trial, a solidarity rally was held in front of the courthouse, which responded to the verdict with a loud protest that drew some 600 people. On October 23, 2021, the solidarity campaign “Antifascism is Necessary” called for ongoing demonstrations with the motto “Freedom for all Antifas!”
“With its judgment, the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court has once again made it clear that the persecution of anti-fascists is not about a legal assessment of the evidence, but about deterrence by all means,” said Anja Sommerfeld from the Federal Board of Rote Hilfe. “Such high prison sentences, which are purely politically motivated, are intended to intimidate the anti-fascist movement and to deter activists from their engagement against Nazis. We see similar methods in Saxony, among others, where the investigative authorities are even pursuing the anti-fascist structures as a ‘criminal organization’ and dragging three anti-fascists (including Lina) to court. “In conclusion,” Sommerfeld declared, “We show solidarity with Jo and Dy and stand by their side.”
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has made a contribution to Jo and Dy’s commissary account and to help them pay for legal expenses. We will continue to support Jo and Dy and all other anti-fascists who are imprisoned by the state. We pledge to do whatever is necessary to support them and see them walk free. Solidarity!