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Police Against the Animal Rights Activists in Austria

World  (tags: europe, humanrights, animalrights, animalactivists, Austria )

- 3701 days ago -
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.

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Joanna D (216)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 8:58 am
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.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.”

Joanna D (216)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 9:00 am
Please send your comments to:
Home Secretary; Dr Günter Platter
• Minister for Justice; Frau Dr Berger
• Federal President; Dr Heinz Fischer
• Federal Chancellor; Dr Alfred Gusenbauer

Sample letter:

Animal Activists Arrrests - Protest against Human Rights Abuse

On 21 May there were several raids against animal rights and animal welfare activists and groups. Furthermore, 10 activists were arrested and are now accused of being part of a criminal organization.
In my opinion, it is more than absurd that armed special forces of the Austrian police carried out such a big strike against a social movement. This act of arbitrary violence is evidence of failure of the democratic society.

I`m writing to you to express that I am totally opposed to the raids and arrests of the animal rights activists. I demand their immediate release from prison. I find this number of raids and arrests to be an attempt to criminalize legitimate activism and I condemn this repression in every way.

I reject the construct of §287a concerning the suspected formation of a criminal organisation and I condemn the attempt to weaken the Austrian animal rights movement with such acts of violence. The liberation of animals from their state of socially institutionalized exploitation and oppression is neither „criminal“ nor to be rejected in any other way; on the contrary, it is a necessary condition for a free society. Animal right activists only wish to save the animal victims from further violence and oppression. I don`t understand why the Austrian state fights against those human beings instead of working for the abolition of animal exploitation.

Therefore, I strongly request an immediate action towards releasing the imprisoned Austrian animal rights activists. Please do not allow any more violations of human rights in the middle of democratic Europe.

Yours sincerely,


Poniższy list kierujcie na następujący adres:

Treść e-maila:

Szanowny Panie Ambasadorze,

Zwracam się do Pana w związku z informacją o aresztowaniu w Austrii 10-ciu osób zajmujących się prawami zwierząt. 21 maja 2008 o świcie, austriackie oddziały antyterrorystyczne w brutalny sposób wtargnęły do 24 mieszkań i dokonały aresztowań dziesięciu działaczy 7 organizacji zajmujących się ochroną praw zwierząt. Jednym z zatrzymanych jest dr Martin Balluch, prezes organizacji Verein Gegen Tierfabriken. Organizacjom tym skonfiskowano komputery i telefony komórkowe oraz materiały będące owocem wielu lat pracy. Siedmiu z aresztowanych podjęło strajk głodowy w proteście przeciwko nieuzasadnionemu użyciu siły, przetrzymywaniu w areszcie bez postawienia zarzutów i przeciw nieudostępnianiu dokumentacji prawnikom aresztowanych.

Takie postępowanie jest moim zdaniem wstrząsające i oburzające. To jawne łamanie praw człowieka przez wydawałoby się demokratyczny kraj, w którym obowiązują pewne zasady i prawa dotyczące właściwego traktowania obywateli. Dołączam swój głos do protestów, które odbywają się w Austrii, Niemczech i Szwecji. Nie mogę trwać w obojętności, gdy niewinni ludzie traktowani są jak terroryści, a wolność słowa osób chcących bronić zwierząt przed bezwzględną eksploatacją jest narażona na szwank.

Proszę o podjęcie niezwłocznej interwencji w tej sprawie. Nie mam wątpliwości, że pogwałcono prawa obywatelskie działaczy. Niewinni ludzie zostali w brutalny sposób pozbawieni wolności. Należy im ją czym prędzej zwrócić!

Z poważaniem,

(Twoje imię i nazwisko)

Więcej informacji (w jęz. angielskim).

Zdjęcia z protestów wyrażających solidarność z zatrzymanymi w Austrii:



(2008-06-02 22:28:38)

do góry

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Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 9:08 am
Thank you Joanna, hope activist will reagin their stuffs, but also can be proud , for this police action means that activist became respectable force!

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 9:31 am
i will email for what itis worth

Alf I (246)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 9:46 am
And demo tommorow morning at the Austrian Embassy in London.
Please write these letters. This is totally against human rights. These people have done nothing wrong, they are wonderful activists who always do as much as they can while working within the law. They do not deserve this.
One of them is also on hunger strike since the 20th May and is getting weak.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 10:03 am

RIVER F (98)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 10:19 am

Laurel W (20)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 10:26 am
I will email them today. It sounds like the Aussie government is gettting scared the activists are becoming too powerful. The people should go into the streets and support the acivists. If there are too many people supporting animal rights they cannot stop them all.

Gorilly Girl (339)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 10:29 am
Activists should become powerful for is I, you, Us that is going to save the plantes creatures for our childrens children. Will send do I have to be nice????

Big Gorilly Hugs

Teresa Soares (82)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 11:33 am
Thank you, Joanna. I sent the letter and I crossposted to my friends in Europe.

Blacktiger P (247)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 11:46 am
For the person who misspoke of the "Aussie" that nickname is for Australia, not Austria.

Dusty K (1339)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 12:14 pm
Emails sent and I've crossposted and sent off as well! Just another endless attack against those fighting for animal rights! Thanks Joanna!

Hans L (958)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 12:16 pm
Since i have been living in Austria for 20 years i will check the backgrounds!
i cannot believe that they did nothing but protest against Tierfabriken!
Austrias green party will surely inform me ! I will take action !

Karen M (176)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 12:20 pm
I sent the emails. This is an important case for animals activists internationally. I wish the Austrians well. They need to be released and the hunger strike, please, needs a good ending.

The wealthy companies are demonstrating their immense greed right now, exerting their power through these actions.

Karen M (176)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 12:20 pm
I sent the emails. This is an important case for animals activists internationally. I wish the Austrians well. They need to be released and the hunger strike, please, needs a good ending.

The wealthy companies are demonstrating their immense greed right now, exerting their power through these actions.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 1:18 pm

Trudi Reijnders (242)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 1:53 pm
Well thank you so much Joanna.Just sent the emails and thank you for the sample letter.These are the kind of people deserving our full support.
True activists are being treated as if they're terrorists.In reality they are heroes,risking their lifes for the voiceless.
Please take a look on this site:

Jillyanne Michelle Cape (718)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 2:01 pm
I am so shocked. I had the distinct impression the government in Austria was quite progressive in the area of animals rights. What in the world has happened here?!! This is so sad. Please keep us updated on the situation.

Dennis Archer (210)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 2:18 pm
This had nothing to do with a difference of ideology - and the gov't didn't do what it did just to avoid "having to listen to people shout in protest" - indeed, people are shouting even louder than before. Nor did it have to do with an exercise of power, greed, or any of these other fantastical suppositions. This had to do purely with LAW enforcement. Has everyone here just decided to gloss over the fact that these jailed individuals committed crimes (arson, assault, vandalism, etc.) and did so in an organized manner? Doesn't that, by default, make it an "organized crime?"
Are we supposed to hand out exceptions, scaled by cause now? What then about people who loot during riots in destitute areas? Career criminals forged by a broken system? Sexual deviants who cannot help their compulsions? Children slaying their schoolyard bullies? Who would get the "Golden Ticket" next, eh?
I'm all for peaceful protest and animal rights; a crime, however, is still a crime, and should be punishable. Perhaps this will send a message to anyone else who thinks it is ever OK to commit a crime and then claim "higher authority". I think, with said message sent, the Austrian gov't will likely let them off lightly, so as not to ruffle too many feathers on either side of the fence.
Now, sit back and watch the unreasoning zealots who encourage this sort of irresponsibility FAIL to adapt to a more efficient, and more law-abiding method of protest.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 2:20 pm
After a successful four-year anti-fur campaign against the clothes retailer P&C a further street campaign, showing footage of conditions for animals on fur farms to shoppers, began two years ago against the chain store Kleider Bauer, the only Austrian department store still to sell fur.

This is part of the shock and awe campaign that I had stated in an email message to others that it was working. Working so well that the government and big corporations are so frightened by it they have decided to become a fascist Country I see. I'll write those letters and check to see if there is anything else going on to support these AR people. I know the human body can only go without water for 8 to 10 days. (I had to look this one up) it takes weeks or even months to die from a lack of food.
But I'd guess that the water and food needs would depend on the size and strength of the body to begin with, wouldn't it? This is really dangerous for these guys.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 2:28 pm
emails sent
Thank you Joanna

Hans L (958)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 3:02 pm
Meanwhile i have studies the austrian media! It realy seems to be a strong sign of the foodindustry the activists have caused a damage of more than EUR 600.000 but so far no one has been acused....this seems to be a demonstration of power! And its strange that they have been arrested like terorrists!
Anyhow i will check it tomorrow if there will be new facts!

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 3:50 pm
Just read this on myspace but can't confirm it.

ELP has just heard that one of the Austrian Animal Rights prisoners, who is on hungerstrike, was moved to the prison hospital wing today and it is expected they will try to force feed him on Friday.

ELP will bring you more news on this as we get it. Latest reports suggest that as many as seven of the Austrian prisoners are now on hungerstrike.


Joanna D (216)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 4:16 pm
Thank you !!
Kathy it's true from the site:
Martin Moved to Hospital Wing

It was revealed today that Martin has been taken to the hospital wing of the prison where he is being held on remand. After 15 days of protesting for his rights in the only way available to him the authorities remain silent.
Rallies outside the Ministry of Justice

Concerned campaigners have rallied outside the offices of the Minister of Justice, Dr Maria Berger for the past two days, imploring her to investigate the case of the ten animal protections being kept on remand without charge.

With the help of megaphones, campaigners informed people inside the Ministry of Justice building about this state scandal and about the increasing international criticism of the Austrian authorities.

Please send emails also to Austrian Embassy in your country.

4th of June in the morning at the Austrian Embassy in London (thanks Alf)
4th June 2 pm Austrian Embassy in Warsasw

Joanna D (216)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 4:33 pm
Information Update from the Legal Support Team (May 28, 2008)
Ten animal rights activists having been sitting in pre-trial detention jail for over a week. Their detention is grounded on the charge of “Forming a Criminal Organization,” under §278a StGB (penal code). The next date on which further internment in the detention jail will be decided upon will take place either on Friday, June 6 or on Monday, June 9. Until then there is little to no hope that the prisoners will be released.

Joanna D (216)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 4:39 pm
More demos:
4th June
Wien, Frankfurt, Roma, Milano, Bologna, Klagenfurt, Munchen, Stuttgart, Warsaw
time and more info:


Michelle R (13)
Tuesday June 3, 2008, 8:43 pm
Emails sent, although the first one didn't go through.

There must be a low crime rate in Austria.....This is ridiculous!

Alf I (246)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 2:48 am
Dennis none of the activists have been charged with arson or anything like that. Please don't believe the propoganda. This is all about big corporations wielding their power. It's all about money as always, not terrorism.
"We no longer live in a society, we live in an economy where right and wrong is determined not by fairness but by profitability and where the law no longer dictates corporate behavior but corporate behavior dictates the law."

Hans L (958)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 3:13 am
Dennis Alf is right the guys have not been acused because they dont have anything! If they had they would have given it immediately! But if you see this than you know that this is a police state! How can you deal with innocent activists who did nothing but protest against factory farming like this?
There is a lovw crime rate in Austria and this is rediculous! The press is very quiet on this because the press is financed by? The Industry!
Thats why its important that we dont accept this and protest worldwide!

Pam F (221)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 3:14 am
What a disgrace - especially as they have not been charged - with ANYTHING - let alone "arson,assault,vandalism,etc"!
Emails sent,but the one to the Minister for Justice was returned.
Thank you,Joanna.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 5:53 am
Pam you are right this is a disgrace and something completely new for Austria you dont hear much about this. Its hardly in the news! Well managed by the industry! Only animal friends and activists pay attention to this!
Until now i have been proud that Austria is a country without scandals well keeping these people without a proper charge and not being able to tell what criminial organization they belong to....strange and a real disgrace!
If they realy would be members of a criminial organisation this would be ok but not if they are not charged because there is no evidence what so ever!

Sheila G (267)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 3:28 pm
this is so sad, our police need to put this time into looking for pedophiles and real criminals, not harrassing the people who risk their freedom to help rescue animals. just so pissed right now!

Louise L (48)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 4:51 pm
I never thought of Austria as a police state. It is indeed a shame that peaceful protests of its citizens is not allowed. Thank you for the eye opener.

Nancy Vernand (187)
Wednesday June 4, 2008, 9:55 pm
Please write these letters to the addresses above and try to be civil as the receipiente are not the ones doing the arresting but can hopefully help the situation. It is riduclous to consider animal protsting a crime unless there are addition idividuals doing crimes in the name of protesting animal abuse which makes it bad for everyone, including the animals. People that are a voice for the voiceles and have compassion for animals do not need to be called zealots by people who could care less how innocent animals are treatd. This is really sad. I intend to make some noise by writing letters on the subject and I hope everyone who has posted a comment will do the same.

Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 5, 2008, 3:05 pm
Wave of Repression against Austrian Professionals and Activists

New "Guantanamo Bay" in Vienna / Austria

ALERT: 06. June 2008 - Ten innocent animal-rights professionals and activists are held already now since two weeks in the dungeons of Vienna under trumped up charges and without any concrete evidence being provided by the state authorities concerning any wrongdoing. The health of those on hunger strike is deteriorating rapidly.The head of the registered animal-rights charity VGT (, Dr. Dr. Martin Balluch, is already so weak that he had to be transferred into the sick-bay of that Austrian detention centre, where he is held without any evidence concerning the official charge. As from Friday he might have to be put on a live-saving drip. Like in the other 9 cases, also his lawyers were not even given the possibility to have the legally guaranteed full access to the court and prosecution files. The Austrian state is far off its own constitution, its laws and the European Convention on Human Rights.


Further investigations into the Austrian filth and the link between the brothers Peter and Werner Graf, owners of an Austrian chain of clothing-supermarkets who are not refraining from trading in fur from animals, and certain highest political office bearers as well as their connection to these atrocities against the animal-rights activists are under way. It seems that there are serious implications concerning members of the party of the austrian conseratives (övp) and business interests behind this affair as the Austrian animal-rights movement has achieved many progressive law changes to the benefit of animals in the last years and the conservatives, who are in a coalition government and seem able to manipulate the media, want to beat back.
Whistleblowers are encouraged to contribute and to show the filth in Austrian politics and state-protected rotten businesses. (Human rights violations in connection with the OMV oil activities in Sudan until 2004 are being re-assessed and new allegations concerning human rights violations sourrounding the activities of OMV in Pakistan are under way.)

Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 5, 2008, 3:06 pm

- Most if not all activities of animal rights activists in Austria and their legally registered charities were and are clandestinely observed by Austrian state organs. Phone calls, e-mails and other communication of people, who openly say that they stand for the legally enshrined rights of animals, have been recorded and are listed in all details since at least the year 2000.

- The addition of paragraph 278a to the Austrian penal code was introduced to combat serious organized crime (like drugs and human trafficking or money laundering and fake money production / circulation), but it is now misused to spy on ordinary citizens, who only defend the legally enshrined rights of animals and struggle for their better legal protection.

- During the raids on 21. May 2008 several arrested people were refused their basic right to contact a lawyer or next of kin, which summons to forced abduction. All communication equipment and the data stored (incl. even the cell-phone registered private phone-numbers of people) had been immediately confiscated by the state organs and the police therefore also removed also all the evidence of crimes against animals, collected by these organization over many years and the databases concerning their contacts and sponsors. These raids were carried out not only concerning those organizations, which have a link to the detainees, but even against not accused organizations. The authorities so far refuse to return any of this vital equipment and data, though not a single specific accusation has been made and the prosecutor could not provide any detail for any wrongdoing of any of the persecuted detainees or raided organizations.

- The state prosecution was not able to point out a single specific misdeed concerning any of the detainees. They are kept now since two weeks in detention centres, because the authorities claim that if released the detainees could abscond or hinder further investigations. This means that innocent citizens are holed up in detention centres without clear charges brought forward and held under dreamed up and trumped up charges of conspiracy to further criminalize them, their friends and families. The last time such happened in Austria was in the past dark days and under Adolf Hitler, which did lead to World War II. Serious vigilance and intervention is therefore required from the international community to avert the further deterioration of human rights and the legal system in Austria.

- The legal representation has not even access to the files, which are claimed by the state prosecutor to contain indications pointing towards planned criminal activities, because also here it is pretended that the legal right of the defence lawyers to get access to the files of the prosecution would again hinder further investigation. So what is this? The Austrian state arrests innocent citizens, claims that they have sufficient evidence, but refuses to lay it open because they fear that the (presumed non-existing) evidence could not be fully established if the detained people would be released. All 2000 pages of documents presented by the prosecution so far do not provide any evidence in any single case for any wrongdoing and certainly not for any charge that would justify to invoke the provisions of newly introduced paragraph 278a of the Austrian penal code. Other vital prosecution files are continuously and illegally withheld from the defence-lawyers and their right to file a complaint is bluntly refused by the state.

- In addition the legally enshrined duty of the state prosecutor to inform at least the defence lawyers of the detainees about important decisions, like the transfer of prisoners to other locations, is violated daily and often the legal representatives are only informed by media releases about such grave decisions of the prosecution. Their official complains are ignored or even bluntly denied.

- 6 of the 10 detained animal rights professionals and activists have gone on hunger strike and have vowed that they only would start to take food, if they either would be officially accused of any wrongdoing with detailed charges or until they would be set free. Their health status is deteriorating fast, since the hunger strike is now going on since two weeks. What is specifically grave is the fact that even medical attention has been refused to several detainees.

- State terror and violations of basic human rights is happening daily in these cases e.g. by locking the non-smoking detainees together with chain-smoking hard-core criminals, not allowing them to wash themselves or change clothes or not even providing them the necessary application papers to receive books or other reading material from friends. Medical aid is withheld but DNA samples are taken against the will of these state-hostages.

- Though members of the official opposition in Austria have raised serious questions about all these happenings even in parliament, neither the lady-minister of justice, Frau Dr. Maria Berger, who just had hardly survived a non-confidence vote in the Austrian parliament, nor her government counterpart of the Ministry of Interior, Herr Dr Günter Platter, have responded. Official letters sent by numerous human rights organizations from all over the world to these officials remain unanswered. Even the Nobel-peace-laureate Mrs. Elfriede Jellinek, who publicly stated her solidarity with the detainees, was not respected by the Austrian state moguls.

- These cases of state repression and persecution of innocent citizens have already triggered numerous demonstrations inside Austria but also abroad and in front of numerous Austrian embassies.

- It further must be observed that the Austrian media, obsessed in the moment only with football (soccer), are under heavy pressure by the state to not inform the general public about these state-sponsored acts of terror and oppression. It is already feared by many that a free press seems to no longer exist in Austria and a recent representative public opinion poll did provide the stunning result that already 88% of all Austrians believe their politicians to be constant and outright liars.


Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 5, 2008, 3:11 pm
The reason for the searches was the accusation: Formation of a Criminal Organization according to §278a of the criminal code, an act introduced recently and similar to the AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act)in the US in order to criminalize animal rights activists.There were arrest warrants for 10 of the people targeted by the searches. The basis of the arrest warrants was the accusation of Danger of the Destruction of Evidence (because, for example, the targeted people communicated via encrypted e-mails, which is perfectly legal in Austria and elsewhere and common practice among business people or e.g. medical doctors) as well as Danger of Committing a Crime (partially because the targeted people have been active in the animal rights scene for a long time). Both lines of argumentation stand in blatant opposition to the presumption of innocence. The accusation of forming a criminal organization is completely and arbitrarily constructed and used only to hold the detainees responsible for all unsolved criminal offences of the last few years. The accusations are not substantiated by any evidence; on the contrary – the authorities apparently only hope to find via the house searches evidence, which would confirm their suspicions . But up until now and also in the future the suspicion of Forming a Criminal Organization can not be corroborated neither by evidence nor vague assumptions.
The Austrian State violates article 6 sec. 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and its own penal code (§ 8 StPO), whereby every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty as well as its legislation concerning the right of every arrested person to immediately contact a lawyer (art. 4sec. 7 PersFrG ). The state violates obviously also the right of the defence lawyers to have access to the files of the prosecution (§ 51 sec. 2 last sentence of the Austrian StPO) and because it did not inform the arrested people concerning the reason for their arrest and detention the Austrian state violates superior European law (art. 5 sec. 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

It remains unclear what the specific motive for these operations was. It can be assumed that the time and realization of these operations have a political background, when even the general public in Austria (86%) press for having the rights of animals enshrined in the constitution as it is the case in Germany or Switzerland already. In any case unpopular political actions are being criminalized and made impossible. Should this wave of repression, which obviously was decreed from those in power, remain unquestioned or unchallenged, this wave will certainly hit other forms of resistance and areas of activism.(...)
Ten animal rights activists have been sitting now in pre-trial detention jail for over two weeks. Their detention is based on a trumped up charge of “Forming a Criminal Organization,” under §278a StGB (penal code), similar to the US-induced anti-terrorism-law of Germany or the AETA of the US.

The next date on which further internment in the detention jail will be decided upon will take place either on Friday, June 6 or on Monday, June 9 2008. Until then there is little to no hope that the prisoners will be released.

Some of the prisoners were moved from the detention centre in Wiener Neustadt to Vienna (Justizanstalt Josefstadt) and Eisenstadt respectively, without any reason and without notifying the attorneys. We can only speculate as to the reasons – the prosecutors ramble on about the danger of destruction of evidence – but we believe the intention is the scattering and splitting up of the protests and demonstrations in front of the jail in Wiener Neustadt.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Friday June 6, 2008, 4:39 am
Me thinks they are pissed:)

Dear Madam,

We are pleased to supply you with the following information:

On May 21, 2008, ten arrest and 23 house search warrants were executed in the provinces of Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol and Vienna and four summonses were served by the police officers on authority of the Regional Court Wiener Neustadt. Therefore, the police officers did not take action of their own accord but on behalf of an independent court. Initial interrogations of the persons affected by these official acts were mostly carried out in the presence of their lawyers. The decision on continuation of detention that was ordered in ten cases rests exclusively with an independent judge rather than the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

The reason why the criminal prosecution authorities took action was that since autumn 2006 attacks and damage to facilities of the clothing, pharmaceutical and food industries as well as a major campaign of anonymous threats against managers and staff of companies of these economic sectors had become more and more frequent. These illegal acts caused a total damage of approx. two million Euro.

The measures taken by the police on behalf of the court and continuously coordinated with the judicial authorities were in no way directed against animal welfare or animal welfare organisations and in no way intend to criminalise the “animal welfare“ issue or its representatives but are exclusively aimed at individual, obviously militant and suspected criminal animal rights activists who got organised to commit criminal offences against persons and property and performed acts of self-justice.

Therefore, the concerns that the provisions of art. 278a Criminal Code are extended to comprise also socio-critical issues cannot be understood. In any event, an independent court will have to decide whether the matter in question meets the prerequisites for constituting this offence.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior hopes to have answered your question to your satisfaction.

Yours sincerely

Gerhard Pichler

Republic of Austria

Federal Ministry of the Interior

tel. + 43-(0)-1-531 26-2343


Joanna D (216)
Friday June 6, 2008, 10:40 am
Another news - also about police vs activists:

The ten protesters arrested at a demonstration outside EDO MBM/ITT yesterday have been released on police bail. They are due to return to Hollingbury Custody Centre on August 7th.

The ten people were held for up to thirty hours and eight people had their houses raided. Two laptops, a personal computer, mobile phones and clothes were confiscated. The police applied for a twelve hour extension of the 24 hour maximum period of detention. Despite this police failed to press any charges.

Many of those detained at the demonstration had been arrested for minor, non-imprisonable offences.

Smash EDO press spokesman Andrew Beckett said 'Sussex Police have made statements in the media attempting to demonise those arrested. The fact they have all been bailed without charge suggests the police have little evidence against them.'

Campaign spokeswoman Chloe Marsh said 'Wednesdays protest was a resounding success for the campaign. The campaign will continue until EDO closes down.'

Notes for Journalists:


600 people participated in The Carnival Against the Arms Trade on Wednesday June 4th which marched from the Level to EDO MBM/ITT despite attempts at police repression.

More info about the Carnival and a flyer for the event can be found at

Notes for Journalists


On the Verge is an independent film about the SMASH EDO Campaign

“In 2004 a group of Brighton peace campaigners began to bang pot and pans outside their local arms manufacturers EDO MBM in disgust of their part in the Iraq war. This has grown into the Smash EDO campaign, which has cost the company millions, been the subject of large scale police operations and has tested the right to protest in the UK.Using activist, police and CCTV footage plus interviews with those involved in the campaign, 'On The Verge' tells the story of one of the most persistent and imaginative campaigns to emerge out of the UK's anti-war movement and direct action scene.”

The Company

EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole UK subsidiary of huge U.S weapons manufacturer EDO Corp.From their base in Moulescoombe Brighton, EDO MBM manufacture vital parts for the Hellfire and Paveway weapons systems,laserguided missilesused extensively in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Somalia. EDO Corp were recently acquired by ITT in a multi-billion pound deal. ITT's links to fascism go back to the 1930s. The founder Sosthenes Behn was the first foreign businessman received by Hitler after his seizure of power.

The Campaign

There has been active campaign against the presence o f EDO MBM in Brighton since the outbreak of the Iraq war.Campaigners include students, Quakers ,Palestine solidarity activists, anti-capitalists and academics. Despite an injunction under the protection of harassment act (which failed) and over forty arrests the campaign is still going strong.Their avowed aim is to expose EDO MBM and their complicity in war crimes and to remove them from Brighton. They hold regular weekly demos outside the Moulescoombe factory on Wednesday's between 4 and 6.


On the Verge is an independent film about the SMASH EDO Campaign

“In 2004 a group of Brighton peace campaigners began to bang pot and pans outside their local arms manufacturers EDO MBM in disgust of their part in the Iraq war. This has grown into the Smash EDO campaign, which has cost the company millions, been the subject of large scale police operations and has tested the right to protest in the UK.Using activist, police and CCTV footage plus interviews with those involved in the campaign, 'On The Verge' tells the story of one of the most persistent and imaginative campaigns to emerge out of the UK's anti-war movement and direct action scene.”

smash EDO
- e-mail:
- Homepage:

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 6, 2008, 10:43 am
Amnesty International position on Austrian hunger strikers
Statement by Amnesty Internatioinal in response to the repressive police action against Austrian animal rights campaigners

(1) Amnesty International can of course make no statement with regard to whether the accused are guilty of the criminal acts of which they are accused (criminal damage to property, duress, menacing threat) and would like to remind here of the presumption of innocence anchored in the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 6 para 2) and in the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure (Sec 8).

(2) Amnesty International states here firstly that in terms of human rights all nations have the obligation to protect people's physical integrity property, and that freedom of opinion has its limits where others' rights are violated. Laws protecting people's physical integrity and property thus are valid for active members of civil society as a matter of course, regardless of the issue they are committed to working for.

As an embodiment of the freedom of expression, political and social activism – no matter for which issue – enjoys special protections only so long as it is non-violent and respects the human rights of others. Commitment to a cause does not justify damaging property or threatening people. Criminal investigations or other measures taken against members of civil society are therefore not problematic in and of themselves from the human rights perspective.

(3) Amnesty International does, however, state that the case at hand manifests concerns that our organisation previously expressed in a position paper on the Austrian Criminal Code Reform Act (Strafrechtsänderungsgessetz) of 2002 with regard to the criminal offences stipulated in Sec 278 et seqq. relating to criminal associations or organisations:

Whilst Amnesty International recognises the necessity of amending the Austrian Criminal Code to harmonise with the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, in our view this amendment was effected in a disproportionate manner that exceeds the standards of the UN Convention. In connection with the draft version of Sec 278 of the Criminal Code, Amnesty International has already previously stated that although criminal offences such as resistance to state authority or serious damage to property are most certainly not socially adequate behaviours in a democratic society and must be prohibited by criminal law in any event, it seems inadequate to postulate a group involved in organised crime from a situation where a number of demonstrators conspire to resist state authority.

In our position paper on the Criminal Code Reform Act of 2002, Amnesty International warned that the new catalogue of offences relating to organised crime and terrorism was formulated in an exaggerated manner. Amnesty International pointed out that well-known environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, for example, that might engage in actions such as occupying an atomic power plant, could be said to have committed an offence under this law in doing so, and as a consequence those who donate to their organisation could be charged with financing terrorism under criminal law.

Amnesty International points out that the term "organised crime" is characterised by the intent to enrich oneself and refers to the gravest crimes, for which the intention to maximise profits is characteristic (drug trafficking and smuggling, weapons trafficking and smuggling, theft and trafficking of stolen artwork, procuration of prostitutes, prostitution, trafficking in human beings, illegal gaming and gaming fraud, protection rackets, illegal dumping of dangerous materials, illegal transfer of technology, money laundering, and terrorism; see also Article 5 (1) of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime).

Amnesty International calls attention to the fact that intent to enrich oneself does not exist in the case at hand. The information available to us indicates that the Public Prosecutor also does not claim that there is such an intent. Amnesty International is, therefore, irritated that the allegedly specific evidence has not resulted in criminal proceedings on the grounds of damage to property, duress or menacing threat, but that charges related to a general crime of membership in a criminal organization, the vagueness of which crime we perceive to be problematic, are apparently being pursued instead.

(4) With respect to the house searches and seizures, Amnesty International makes reference to the human rights imperative of appropriateness, which has also found expression in the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure. Existing accounts of the situation raise doubts with respect to the appropriateness of how the house searches and arrests were made by the police. Therefore, Amnesty International urgently recommends an independent and unbiased investigation of these measures and expressly welcomes the initiation of appeal procedures by defence counsel. With reference to Article 4 para 7 of the Personal Freedoms Act (Bundesverfassungsgesetz über den Schutz der persönlichen Freiheit, PersFrG), Amnesty International believes that particular attention must be paid to the fact that those held in custody have reported that the authorities have refused to allow them to contact legal counsel.

Amnesty International also points out that the search warrant (which is at our disposal) does not clearly indicate which evidence was to be secured. The expression "electronic storage media as well as relevant documents and objects" is very general in its wording. Amnesty International has observed the use of such pre-written text blocks as substantiation for infringements of fundamental freedoms in other contexts, and fears that the use of such gives rise to doubts about how carefully the human rights boundaries are observed in individual cases.

(5) Amnesty International is concerned about reports which indicate that the extent and nature of the house searches and seizures were such as to possibly impede the legitimate work of legal civil organisations. While the Public Prosecutor responsible for this case stresses that the allegations of criminal offences are not directed at any associations, the reports we have received indicate that the seizure of materials in the associations' offices were carried out in a manner that has left them deprived of the resources (e.g., donor databases) they would require in order to continue working.

In this context, Amnesty International stresses that criminal investigations against individuals should not be mingled with any membership in institutions or associations of civil society that they might have. Every effort must be made by the authorities to avoid creating the impression that they consider it at least acceptable to have impeded the work of legal associations.

(6) Amnesty International is concerned about information received from the accused's legal counsel, according to which access to the files was limited to an extent that specific information was not available, not even regarding what is claimed to be the 'reasonable suspicion' (dringender Tatverdacht) or the 'probable cause' (Haftgrund) for the arrests. Thus, the information that is necessary for the defence of those being held and for any questioning of their custody is being withheld from their lawyers.

Amnesty International points out that under Article 5 para 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, every person under arrest must be informed promptly of the reasons for their arrest and of the nature of the accusations being made against them. Pursuant to Sec 51 para 2 last sentence of the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, following the ordering of investigative custody, it is not permissible to restrict access to documents that the accused requires in order to defend himself in an appeal against the 'reasonable suspicion' held against him and the 'probable cause' being given for his arrest.

Tim Redfern (581)
Friday June 6, 2008, 1:26 pm
Dennis, kindly explain to us how we are
obligated to obey a bad law. Yes, it now
appears that Austria is indeed a police
state. Tyrants who run police states
understand only one thing: Violence.
This is why organisations such as EarthFirst!
have had to resort to the "terrorist" tactics
they use. Those in authourity understand nothing
For those of us living in the United States,
we also have no obligation to obey bad law.
I am in very poor health, suffering from
Systemic Lupus, advanced emphysema, COPD,
congestive heart failure, and rheumatoid
arthritis. The only thing I have found which
keeps my many symptoms in remission is Marijuana.
I live in Tennessee, which is NOT a Medical
Marijuana state. But, do I let the illegality
of Marijuana stop me from buying and smoking it?
Hell, no, I do not.
I have a choice of obeying a bad law and being
bedridden, or "breaking" the law and being able
to live a halfway-normal life despite my ever-
failing health.
If you, Dennis, were in my position, I bet you,
too, would "break the law" to get some pain-relief.
In principle, the same thing applies to the Austrians
who were wrongfully arrested and harassed. When a law,
ANY law, stifles a person's basic human right of self-
expression, it is that person's duty to violate the law,
and ignore the law.

Thank you for this post, Joanna,
and I WILL be sending e-mails to the
Austrian Government.

Past Member (0)
Friday June 6, 2008, 6:38 pm
Dennis A your attempts to manipulate the truth are pointless. You say the the authorities acted on law. I think youve had your head up your arse. You obviously dont understand WHY animal rights do what they do. They and ESPECIALY ME know exactly what happens out there. Theyve never hurt or even killed anyone just the scumbags fundings. The only thing the law is used for is to punish the innocent with inacurate sentancing. Youve probably already "disapeared" off this topic by now but hey your only trying to p*ss people off after all. Didnt work though did it! Bwa ha ha ha!

Hans L (958)
Saturday June 7, 2008, 3:01 am
The fact that the Austrian media dont cover this is very frightening Austria has allways been living in PROPORZ The red and the black had the same number of people in power positions...somehow i think they should start thinking about more GREEN for the GREENparty is the only party with common sense!
The fact that Minister Platter has not been willing to answer any questions
and the fact than human rights dont count in Austria tells us that the caring people on this planet should unite and speak up!
If innocent people can be arrested and activist groups cannot work because the computers and stuff is gone..than what is left of a democracy?
Austria is a POLICE state in this Case !

ascm P (6)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 8:48 am
Please, sign the Online petition against Arbitrary Police Operations Against Animal Protectionists" :


Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 10:16 am
Thanks ascm p.
1863 Personen unterzeichneten die Petition bisher.
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