Austrian Activists Attacked

Press Release, 28 May, 2008:

Austria. Indefensible Attack against Animal Welfare Movement

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 farmed 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.

Hunger Strike

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 treated:

Home Secretary; Dr Günter Platter
Minister for Justice; Frau Dr Berger
Federal President; Dr Heinz Fischer
Federal Chancellor; Dr Alfred Gusenbauer

Rousseau: Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. (Animal Friends, Croatia)



Related Articles:


From Dusk 'til Dawn
An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

© Keith Mann