Austrian youth groups including the Communist Youth of Austria (KJO) and the Young Left initiated the Youth Against War campaign last week demanding peace, freedom, neutrality, and protesting the center-right coalition government’s plan to allot more funds for military upgrades in the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The youth groups called on the government to instead allot more funds for social spending, including free public transport, housing and health. Demonstrations were organized in the cities of Vienna, Graz, Linz, Innviertel, Salzburg, St. Pölten, Innsbruck, Feldkirch and Klagenfurt, among others, on June 9 and 10. Campaign booths were also started in different parts of the country from June 12 as part of the initiative and talks are planned for June 16. Peace festivals are scheduled in the cities of Vienna, Linz and Graz in the last week of June.
The Youth Against War campaign has insisted on maintaining the neutrality that Austria has held since World War II and demands that the country should not be a part of any military alliance in the future. In the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, warmongers across Europe by fanning Russophobia have been persuading countries to increase their defense budgets. Even historically neutral countries like Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership recently. At the same time, progressive and anti-war groups, especially leftists, have intensified campaigns against militarization.
The Youth Against War campaign stated that “no Austrian has to die in wars. With neutrality, Austria can also make an active contribution to more peace in the world. However, the war in Ukraine is being exploited to drive us into an EU alliance or the NATO military alliance. We stand clearly against it and fight for peace and neutrality!”
“Everyone loses in the war – except the arms companies. The more bombs fall, the higher their profits. They earn from the suffering and death of people. Wars always serve only one purpose: to maximize the profits of corporations and banks. But it is not the rich who die in their wars – they are young, dispossessed people like us. Nobody wants war – except those who earn from it,” the campaign added.
The Young Left accused that while the soaring cost of living crisis has overburdened working class lives in the country, the government continues to give tax gifts to the rich and does not take any sustainable measures against inflation.
The KJO said that “after three months of war in Ukraine, millions of people have fled and tens of thousands have died. War is always the wrong way. We no longer want to watch war, hardship and misery normalized. That is why we are taking action now. We oppose war and all those who fuel it. Together we stand up for a life in peace for all people.”
“No, we do not want NATO membership and an EU army! No, we will not go to their wars! We fight for peace and socialism! We are the youth against war,” added the KJO.