Info on animal rights arrests in Austria
- ELP Information Bulletin (28th May 2008)
ELP has some further information about the recent animal rights raids & arrests in Austria.
First off, a solidarity network is being set up for the defendants. The solidarity network have launched a website which although mainly written in German does have some English language information on it. For more information on the solidarity network check out http://www.antirep2008.tk/
Secondly, the following update about the arrests was circulated yesterday:
Several Austrian animal rights organizations raided
and 10 activists arrested.
On Wednesday morning, May 21, 2008 at 6.00 a.m. the
police with battering rams demanded the doors to be
opened of several animal rights activists' homes,
appartments and offices in different towns of Austria.
The places were intensely searched, computers, mobile
phones, videos, cameras, photos,
video tapes, papers, records, databases, and much more
have been confiscated.
Ten animal rights activists have been arrested and
are being held in custody. According to the state
prosecution service their first hearing will be in 2
Members of the organizations BAT, VGT, VGÖ, WTV, Vier
Pfoten, and other private persons are amongst the
The organisations BAT, VGT, RespekTiere and TierWege
have been left without basic means to continue their
legal work. They cannot communicate, because all phone
numbers were in the confiscated mobile phones, and
email addresses were in the computers, as well as data
to update their websites. It is not even possible for
them, at this point, to collect donations from their
members to set up new technical infrastructure,
because even the members' database were taken with the
The police have stated that the examination of the
computers will probably only start next year, because
they are very busy.
Official reason for this is the dubious Austrian Law ?
278a StGB that describes the ?Formation of a criminal
body?. In the newspapers rumors are spread about
butyric-acid and arson attacks in the ongoing legal
campaign against fur-selling fashion-chain Kleider
Bauer. Apart from general unclear suspicions the state
prosecution has not given any concrete evidence
against the detainees.
The Austrian animal rights scene has gained in
reputation during the last years. Quite a number of
animal protection scandals have been uncovered,
where people up to the highest positions in politics
and media were involved.
Cause and effect of these sudden events can be
questioned. It is clear that actions performed by all
groups disturb several powerful people, Kleider Bauer
directly, but also others who want to
maintain their profits in businesses or political
positions, be this in the fur or circus industry,
factory farming, hunting lobby, etc.
Aganist their will and contrary to Austrian law DNA
samples have been taken from at least 2 of the
detainees. In both cases these samples were taken
In various countries and in varios cities 'Solidarity
Demos' have been taking place and are likely to
Not only Austrian organisations are alarmed. Democracy
once more has been abused, and those fighting for the
rights of those, who themselves have no voice to
raise, again endure character assassination, being
called criminals and terrorists, instead of what they
really are ? animal rights activists, people who try
to be a voice for the voiceless.
May 27, 2008
Finally, the below Press Release was circulated today about the arrests.
Press Release, 28 May, 2008:
Austria. Indefensible Attack against Animal Welfare
Twenty-four House and Office Raids, Ten Arrests, No
Concrete Charges, and a String of Human Rights
Violations result in Seven People on Hungerstrike
The morning of 21st May saw the first massive raid
from police against the animal welfare movement
through out the whole of Austria.
A total of twenty-four homes and offices of animal
welfare activists and organisations were raided by
police at 6.15 a.m., Harald Balluch, managing director
of the VGT (Association against Animal Factories)
described the scene in his flat. “I awoke to the sound
of the door being broken in, immediately a group of
armed and masked people surrounded my bed where my
girlfriend and I were sleeping and aimed their weapons
at us. They screamed at me that they would shoot me in
the head if I moved. We have two elderly rescued dogs,
who were brutally manhandled. As you can imagine, all
four of us were absolutely terrified.
Seven organisations have been affected and ten people
were taken into custody. Police have justified this
action by saying that the campaigners are suspected of
belonging to a criminal organisation §278a of the
Austrian criminal code. However, after a week of
keeping these people in custody no charges have been
made against them.
Improvements for animals achieved by the Austrian
movement have set a world wide example
The animal welfare movement in Austria has achieved a
great deal for animals in the last years. The success
list includes a ban on fur farms, a ban on wild
animals in circuses, a ban on caged rabbits used for
meat and a ban on battery cages for chickens. Austria
is regarded world wide as one of, if not the most
impressive country in terms of animal welfare.These
successes are entirely down to researching the
conditions that animals are kept in, giving the public
access to this information and political lobbying.
Harald Balluch distances himself and the VGT from any
illegal activities.” This police action is designed to
discredit the work being done for animals. The
intention is to damage the reputation of animal
campaigners and campaign work. Through the police
raids, our office along with four others, has been
brought to a stand still. Our computers with our
complete data bank have been taken along with all our
mobile phones and years of research material. We have
no possibility of contacting our supporters. Our phone
and fax lines were also out of order for sometime
after the raid making contact with media impossible.”
A String of human rights violations
Lawyers representing the ten campaigners have issued
formal complaints against the police concerning a
string of human rights violations. These include
detention without being charged for all those on
remand, unnecessary force used by the police during
the house raids and DNA samples being taken from two
of the detainees against their will using force.
In an effort to protest against this injustice, seven
of the people on remand are on hunger strike. Their
request for diluted fruit juice was denied, so they
are just drinking water
Martin Balluch’s family and girlfriend, who were
allowed to visit him for the first time on 27th May,
on the seventh day after his arrest, commented after
seeing Martin “We were absolutely horrified by
Martin’s condition. This is now his seventh day on
hunger strike and his movements and speech are
extremely weak and slow.”
Please show your support for human rights by writing
protest mails to the following Austrian politicians.
These random acts of police repression could happen to
any one of us, who cares about how animals are
Home Secretary; Dr Günter Platter
Minister for Justice; Frau Dr Berger
Federal President; Dr Heinz Fischer
Federal Chancellor; Dr Alfred Gusenbauer
Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
BM Box 2407
www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk“Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s freedom fighter.”
— SHAC leader Kevin Kjonaas, at the Animal Rights 2002 convention
"If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."
"Live in peace with the animals. Animals bring love
to our hearts, and warmth to our souls" -Colleen Klaum
"Secret prisons, secret flights, the CIA tramples human rights; reverse hanging, what gives? If that's not torture, what the fuck is?"
Get trade secrets for amazing burgers. Watch "Cooking with Tyler Florence" on AOL Food.