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Petition Against Arbitrary Police Operations Against Animal Protectionists Austria


World  (tags: europe, humanrights, HumanRights, animalrights, activists, Austria )

Joanna
- 3329 days ago - vgt.at
The morning of 21st May saw the first massive raid from police against the animal welfare movement through out the whole of Austria. To date no concrete or substantive grounds have been announced for those arrests ... Please sing the petition



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Comments

Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 10:25 am
In the early morning hours of 21 May 2008, a concerted country-wide police operation in Austria, raided and searched the homes of 23 animal protectionists. Ten people were remanded in custody. To date no concrete or substantive grounds have been announced for those arrests and remands in custody.

I strongly protest against this course of action. Both the police operation and the remand in custody of these people are completely disproportionate. For example, doors were rammed open without warning; masked police officers stormed homes with drawn guns. This was followed by grievous verbal and physical harassment and humiliation.

As justification for the raids, the Public Prosecutor's Office cites § 278a Austrian Penal Code (The formation of a “criminal organisation”), a paragraph, which is otherwise used solely in relation to people smuggling rings and Mafia organisations. Proof of the existence of the alleged “criminal organisation” by the authorities is still outstanding. The Public Prosecutor's Office has also not made any clear statements about the concrete connections that the detainees supposedly have with this ominous organisation.

It cannot be accepted, that a state under the rule of law remands people in custody without convincing argument. It cannot be accepted that the police confiscate computers, mobile telephones, member lists and documents on the off chance. Four Animal Protection Associations have been robbed of their functional existence in this manner. These facts are all serious violations of civil rights.

It appears that there is an attempt to criminalise the Austrian Animal Protection and Animal Rights movement. The police operation is causing lasting damage to the image of the Animal Protection movement. By depriving the NGOs of their infrastructure and lists of potential donors, they are deprived of all chances to continue to working for and representing their concerns.

Please take on this case and commit yourself to bringing transparency to this issue before Austria's international image is seriously damaged.

Unless the Public Prosecutor is able to bring immediate proof of the serious accusations that have been made, the detainees must be released without delay!

more info in comments to the news: http://www.care2.com/news/member/457397809/763153
 

Joanna D (216)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 10:54 am
1869 Personen unterzeichneten die Petition bisher.
 

Trudi Reijnders (242)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 11:00 am
Thank you Joanna.Signed a couple of days ago.It's outrageous the way these animal activists are being treated.
DDr Martin Balluch(chairman of the Association against Animal Factories)is on his 18th day of hunger strike and his physical condition is getting worse every day.These people need our support.
Once petition signed,please click on the link to send prewritten emails to the Austrian authorities as well.


Vienna, 12th June 2008:
“It gives the impression that the public prosecutor is playing for time. They seem to still be hoping to find incriminating evidence in order to save themselves from the media spotlight in which they are accused of having ordered searches not covered by the law,” remarked Harald Balluch, Director of the Association against Animal Factories. The new documents do not change anything about the facts of this case: Still there is no specific evidence linking the accused animal protectionists with having engaged in damage to property, gas attacks or arson, all of which crimes are being named to the media by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
 

Jim P (3261)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 11:14 am
Petition and letters sent. Outrageous behavior on the part of the police towards a peaceful animal activists group. The people should be freed immediately.

TY, Joanna.

 

Elena P (549)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 12:47 pm
Noted and signed. Thanks.
 

Hans L (958)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 12:51 pm
I have started a group VGT to invite all my friends to
sign the petition! Hope that YOU WILL HELP ME!

http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/VGT

Lets motivate the people to take action!

This is better than a action alert!

Lets make sure that this is in the news
all the time! AUSTRIA is worse than the USA more
like CHINA!
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 1:43 pm
Noted, signed..thank you!
 

Dominic Z (17)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 2:15 pm
1904 Personen unterzeichneten die Petition bisher.
emails sent
 

Hans L (958)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 5:39 pm
Too many CARE2 PEOPLE DONT CARE AT ALL!
WHAT THE HELL DO THEY DO HERE IF THEY DONT WANT TO FIGHT CAUSES?
Joanna is my hero of the week what she did for these 10 people is more
than what 100.000 normal Care2 members do! If i could delete all the Care 2 members who dont care at all i would! The true activist group did not reach more than 380 people.....i guess that is the amount of real activists!
 

Pat B (357)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 6:12 pm
"Thank you for supporting our Petition!" signed, noted, and PO! thankx Joanna for this post!
 

Morgan Griffith (225)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 8:04 pm
This is outrageous and what is scary is don't you all realize this could happen to any and all of us no matter what country you live in??? GET WITH IT PEOPLE FIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE THAT FIGHT FOR YOU AND THE EARTH YOU LIVE ON!!!!!! I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE LACK OF RESPONSE!!!! THE PEOPLE IN CUSTODY WOULD CERTAINLY DO FOR YOU, SIGN THE PETITION AND SEND THE EMAILS AND MOST OF ALL DON'T FORGET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whew!! needless to say I signed and sent emails.
 

Patricia N (41)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 8:50 pm
Petitions sent & signed
 

Jim P (3261)
Thursday June 12, 2008, 11:14 pm
This is a copy of the letter I received from Ministerbuero@bmi.gv.at:

Dear Madam,
Dear Sir,

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

Copied in its entirety, verbatim.


TY, Joanna.

 

Darlene K (356)
Friday June 13, 2008, 12:42 am
Noted, action taken, and emails sent thank you.
 

Pam F (221)
Friday June 13, 2008, 2:17 am
Petition signed,emails sent,thank you,Joanna.

Wow - VGT - what a great organisation!
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 13, 2008, 2:19 am
They have confiscated the databases of organisations everybody who has been supporting the organisations is guilty of supporting terror!!!!
Thats what they say! REDICULOUS! AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DO YOUR WORK!
AUSTRIA SHOULD BE ON THE WATCHLIST! HITLER, WALDHEIM, HAIDER, who is next?
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 13, 2008, 2:22 am
PAM do you think that the VGT is a terrorist group?
DO you support terror? Would you support terror?
I think they hope to find some evidence....ALF communication on attacks or
anything that can justify this police action.....Did they found weapons with the terrorists?
 

Past Member (0)
Friday June 13, 2008, 6:07 am
Noted ,signed and e-mails sent already!
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:07 am
Thanks Jim for posting this reply - I've got the same a few days ago..
and do you know what? if they had done this all they are much greater heroes than I thought... they didn't hurt anybody, they weren't agressive, they didn't use violence
and damaging things - oh we shouldn't be such materialists...
but what is interesting in it is "a major campaign of anonymous threats against managers and staff " - do you people realise that all our emails we're sending can be called as a major campaing of threats against ...
it's ridiculous
anyway we're waiting for decision of "an independent court"
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:11 am
Hi all, Here's a message from Martin BAlluch to the international AR movement -------------- Monday, 9th June 2008 On Wednesday 21st May, my life was to change drastically. We had prepared a new campaign on a constitutional change for animals, which would have gone for a vote in Parliament at the beginning of July. The campaign was to be launched the very next day. For this campaign we had managed to unify just about the whole movement in Austria to pull on the same string. As many of you, who know me, will have expected, this is one of my primary aims, to unify the movement for double strength. But the campaign was not to be. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, police launched the most violent attack ever in Austrian history against a social justice movement and against NGOs. Hundreds of armed police officers smashed in the doors of 21 different homes, of 6 different NGO offices and of our warehouse of demo material. 25 people were arrested and questioned by police. 10 people were put on remand since, one of them me. In order to “catch” me, police not only broke into my home, but also in the home of two of my brothers and my girlfriend’s. Black clad, masked up officers stormed through the broken down door and run, guns drawn, to our beds. They pointed their guns at my head and pulled me out of my bed naked. My brother was pushed onto the wall and had the gun put into his neck. One of the 10 people police intended to put on remand was not at home. So they phoned him, and guess what? Trustingly, he went to the police station suspecting nothing evil. Till today, 19 days later, he is still rotting in a cell, not knowing why. Incidentally, he is campaigns director of the well known animal welfare group “Four Paws”, which has offices in 6 different countries. After police had arrested us, they searched all our homes, including those of my brothers, who are not involved in the animal rights movement. Police mainly took computers, but also brochures, books, videos and mobile phones. You would be forgiven to think that this massive police operation was the state reaction to a high level of animal rights related criminal activity. But instead, fact is that ALF activity in Austria is on a much much smaller scale than in all other countries with a big animal rights movement. You would also be forgiven to think that police must have had information that dangerous ALF-attacks were about to happen, or that they would discover firebombs or terrorist material. But again, you could not be more wrong. They had no such information, they did not even look for such material. They were only interested in computers, books and videos, i.e. in stuff that says something about the attitude of those people they had arrested. This is what this case is about: the attitude of people, no specific crimes. If the police had any evidence against any of the arrestees regarding crimes they supposedly here committed, they would have said so by now. But the arrest order says something else. We all were arrested for “forming a large criminal organisation with a hierarchical structure like a company”. And the crimes this organisation under the name ALF supposedly has committed, is EVERY SINGLE animal rights related crime that ever happened in Austria! This sounds like a joke, but it is not. Every single animal rights related crime ever, every lock glued, every tyre punctured, every window broken and so forth, but also – believe it or not – every run-in, every home demo and every undercover investigation without criminal aspect, to every topic imaginable, from vivisection to fur, factory farming, circus, the lot, is supposed to have been done by our criminal organisation. You would expect that if police and the State Prosecution suspect you of such heinous crimes, they would come to you after your arrest and question you. But wrong again. Ever since I have been put on remand in a cell, I have never been asked by anyone any question related to this case. My solicitor has demanded to see the police evidence, and so for we have seen some 2500 pages. And in all those pages, some animal rights related crimes of the last 2 years are forensically analysed, even a bite lock that was put on a door was investigated for DNA traces. And no evidence against any of the 10 arrestees was found. Also, police has listened to our phones, had us under surveillance, put cameras pointing at our front doors, have put V-men into our groups and have read all our emails. For 2 years! And still, they have found no evidence. So they started the huge police operation, desperate for something to use to charge us of anything, and be it tax fraud. My arrest and remand is “justified” as follows. There is some albeit comparatively little, animal rights related criminal activity. Hence, there must be a big, hierarchical organisation run like a company, which is responsible for it. Further, since I have been active in the movement for decades, since I have international contacts and since I am influential in the movement and have run many campaigns, I must be the head of this organisation. Full stop. That is it. That is the evidence. Can you believe it? I can’t, but for all I can see, it seems to be reality. How is it possible that I am sitting on remand for such a ludicrous “suspicion”? Good question. For 2 weeks I was given no reason why I was arrested. Then I could see the “evidence” and was put before a judge last Friday 6th June. The prosecutor read out the list of all animal rights related crimes and non-criminal actions in the last 11 years, which took a while. Then he said I am suspected to lead a criminal organisation, which is responsible for all of them. Then my solicitor said that there is no evidence. Then I wanted to give a statement, but the judge did not allow me to do so. She just handed me a prepared verdict, which said that I have to remain on remand for another 4 weeks, then she will consider my case again. And that she did with all 10 arrestees, including the campaigns director of Four Paws International. So, what is behind all this? I think behind all this is the most fundamental attack on animal rights movement ever in the history of our movement worldwide. Let me explain. About 11 years ago, we embarked on a new type of campaigning in Austria. We used the classic grass roots campaign tactic with media work and civil disobedience actions for legal reforms. And we were very successful indeed. First, we banned fur farms, then wild animal circuses, then battery cages and vivisection on apes, and at last rabbit cage farming. Theses successes caused a lot of concern for powerful groups in society. After the hen battery cage ban was achieved in 2004, we started to feel an increasing amount of police repression. The anti-terrorist police department started to watch us and slander us by releasing statements how the suspect us of criminal activity. Also, police restricted our rights to protest ever more. Then the Minister of the Interior publicly called us a violent group. We tried to sue him for it, but he turned out to be immune to law suits as a minister. But he admitted in Parliament when questioned that his accusation was based on wrong assumptions. We publicly called him a liar, but, revealingly he did not react. Or so we thought. At about the same time a special police squat was formed and started a major surveillance operation on us, i.e. on a number of different animal rights groups, NGOs and individuals. The rest you know already. Since, after years of intensive surveillance, police could find no evidence of any criminal act, they had to come up with suspicion of an offence that does not need concrete evidence. For that they used a recently introduced law against terrorist groups and the mafia. This law says it is illegal to form a big (i.e. more than 10 people) organisation, which is hierarchical and run similarly to a company, which aims to influence politics or economy, and which was for that aim at least also and at least occasionally, criminal acts. Since we do run campaigns to influence politics and economy, and since there is some sort of animal rights related criminal activity, even if not related to us, on a very low level and of no serious kind but still, the State Prosecution is using the law now – for the first time in history against an NGO. And don’t forget: some of those “crimes” recounted by the State Prosecution include flyposting, run-ins, blockades and undercover investigations inside factory farms. This is a very worrying development. Police is using an anti-terrorist law against legitimate and non-criminal political campaigning. Amnesty International has voiced concern. A Green Party MP has visited me in prison and the Greens have put critical questions to the minister of the interior in Parliament. But he refused to comment. Instead, the state prosecutor released a statement to media that we are suspected of committing arson and “gas attacks”, in order to slander us. This is a political trial, a full scale attack on legal and legitimate reformist law campaigns, which were successful. Please protest against those criminals, who are behind this attack on us, and who are probably high up in government. I support this protest as much as I can. Immediately after my arrest, I went on hunger strike. Apart from before my court hearing in order to be able to attend, I have not eaten since. I am on my 19th day today. I have been in prison hospital for the last week, have blurred vision and fell unconscious once already. I have been told that soon they will start force-feeding me. I need your help. I count on you. Thanks for all the support you have given us already. Please trust that there really is no evidence whatever of criminal activity against me. There is none now, and there never will be any. DDr. Martin Balluch Association Against Animal Factories From prison hospital in Vienna, Austria
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:19 am
Make up your mind....the Green Party is fighting for the animals like the party for the animals here in Holland and Austria has a great reputation on animal rights better than any other country on the world! Maybe animal rights activist should allow the industry to do as they like? Is that what this is all about!
 

. (0)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:25 am
Yeah, Joanna,and they got all our emails and names from the petitions. I am sure, that the animal rights movement is a great treat to the meat/milk sector. And look what Mrs Newkirk has achieved with the Australian wool, they can't sell the wool now and the government is putting out new laws about the mulesing. About time. we did it! Us activists. And there are more and more people joining and either writing letters and emails to politicians. We are uncomfortable for them, so they start to change things, only too slow for me. and look at all the Vegetarians that exist now. And the rest of the population also is eating less meat. The profits are falling and they blame us. Keep on keeping on, I say. We do good!
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:34 am
Bea - all people who are doing "bad things" should be aware that there will be the end... look for Canadian seal slaughter - this year was dissaster for the canadian "industry" they can't lie anymore that it's a profit for the country, that it's a job for many people and so on....
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:35 am
and NEWS:
Vienna, 12th June 2008
Imprisoned Animal Protectionists: DDr Martin Balluch Continues Hunger Strike

Growing evidence that the Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered searches of homes and offices without any clear indication Dr Martin Balluch, chairman of the Association against Animal Factories, remains in hunger strike

It has now been 18 days since he has eaten anything. Despite having been remanded in custody for several weeks now, he has not once been interrogated and in the review of the remand the authorities declined to question him. DDr Balluch demands that conclusive evidence of criminal actions be presented or that – as befits a state under the rule of law – he be released.

DDr Balluch is physically already very weak. During a half-hour visit from his family on Thursday he lost consciousness and fell to the ground. He was carried out to the hospital wing on a stretcher. The Public Prosecutor’s Office released new case files on Thursday afternoon. They contain summaries and first results from the searches of homes and offices. Thus the suspicion remains that the Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the searches without possessing specific evidence that would constitute a clear indication as required by law.

“It gives the impression that the public prosecutor is playing for time. They seem to still be hoping to find incriminating evidence in order to save themselves from the media spotlight in which they are accused of having ordered searches not covered by the law,” remarked Harald Balluch, Director of the Association against Animal Factories. The new documents do not change anything about the facts of this case: Still there is no specific evidence linking the accused animal protectionists with having engaged in damage to property, gas attacks or arson, all of which crimes are being named to the media by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:36 am
Vienna, 9th June 2008
Social-Democrat Party Speaker for Justice Concerned

Hannes Jarolim concerned about the appropriateness of the measures

Mr. Jarolim comments on the house searches and arrests of animal protectionists in an Austria Press Agency press release of the 27 May 2008. He criticises the course of action taken by the security forces and questions the validity of the grounds for detention.

Press Release:

Animal protectionists: Jarolim concerned about the appropriateness of the measures taken

Vienna (SK) – “Detrimental to public trust in the police and justice” is what Hannes Jarolim calls the course of action taken by the security forces and individual officers against leading animal protection association representatives. The house searches and remand in custody of individuals gave the impression of being an attempt to make an example, he says.

Equally, Jarolim expresses doubts that there is any further reason for the detainees to be remanded in custody, as well as doubts in the accuracy of the accusation that the detainees had created a criminal organisation as defined in § 278a of the Austrian Criminal Code. A requisite fact for this accusation is the business-like form of the organisation, which, he points out, will not be the case in organisations that are not aimed at the creation of profit.

The grounds for the remand in custody of the detainees are given as risk of collusion and risk of the perpetration of criminal offences. Jarolim comments “I cannot imagine that there is a risk of collusion as all the apartments have been searched and almost all possible data storage has been confiscated. That the relevant parties could perpetrate criminal offences after such a massive police operation is rather far-fetched.”

Further to that, Jarolim says, it is regrettable that the authorities have not released further information that could make the accusations comprehensible or refutable. This is particularly so since a lack of transparency in the authorities' information politics has been on the agenda more than once in the last weeks. However, it is unavoidable: in cases of problematic measures it becomes necessary that there be an especially transparent representation of the underlying circumstances. If there were no such information, these kinds of operations would leave a particularly dubious impression behind.
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 13, 2008, 10:53 am
I dont understand how they can do this...this is like Guantanamo in Austria!
Everybody who has ever supported organisations that protect animals can be caged in Austria! This is insane! Shame on austria! Free them.
 

ascm P (6)
Friday June 13, 2008, 4:35 pm
My message to the international AR movement

from Martin Balluch

Monday, 9th June 2008



On Wednesday 21st May, my life was to change drastically. We had prepared a new campaign on a constitutional change for animals, which would have gone for a vote in Parliament at the beginning of July. The campaign was to be launched the very next day. For this campaign we had managed to unify just about the whole movement in Austria to pull on the same string. As many of you, who know me, will have expected, this is one of my primary aims, to unify the movement for double strength.


But the campaign was not to be. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, police launched the most violent attack ever in Austrian history against a social justice movement and against NGOs. Hundreds of armed police officers smashed in the doors of 21 different homes, of 6 different NGO offices and of our warehouse of demo material. 25 people were arrested and questioned by police. 10 people were put on remand since, one of them me.


In order to “catch” me, police not only broke into my home, but also in the home of two of my brothers and my girlfriend’s.


Black clad, masked up officers stormed through the broken down door and run, guns drawn, to our beds. They pointed their guns at my head and pulled me out of my bed naked. My brother was pushed onto the wall and had the gun put into his neck.


One of the 10 people police intended to put on remand was not at home. So they phoned him, and guess what? Trustingly, he went to the police station suspecting nothing evil. Till today, 19 days later, he is still rotting in a cell, not knowing why. Incidentally, he is campaigns director of the well known animal welfare group “Four Paws”, which has offices in 6 different countries.


After police had arrested us, they searched all our homes, including those of my brothers, who are not involved in the animal rights movement. Police mainly took computers, but also brochures, books, videos and mobile phones.


You would be forgiven to think that this massive police operation was the state reaction to a high level of animal rights related criminal activity. But instead, fact is that ALF activity in Austria is on a much much smaller scale than in all other countries with a big animal rights movement.


You would also be forgiven to think that police must have had information that dangerous ALF-attacks were about to happen, or that they would discover firebombs or terrorist material. But again, you could not be more wrong. They had no such information, they did not even look for such material. They were only interested in computers, books and videos, i.e. in stuff that says something about the attitude of those people they had arrested. This is what this case is about: the attitude of people, no specific crimes.


If the police had any evidence against any of the arrestees regarding crimes they supposedly here committed, they would have said so by now. But the arrest order says something else. We all were arrested for “forming a large criminal organisation with a hierarchical structure like a company”. And the crimes this organisation under the name ALF supposedly has committed, is EVERY SINGLE animal rights related crime that ever happened in Austria! This sounds like a joke, but it is not. Every single animal rights related crime ever, every lock glued, every tyre punctured, every window broken and so forth, but also – believe it or not – every run-in, every home demo and every undercover investigation without criminal aspect, to every topic imaginable, from vivisection to fur, factory farming, circus, the lot, is supposed to have been done by our criminal organisation.


You would expect that if police and the State Prosecution suspect you of such heinous crimes, they would come to you after your arrest and question you. But wrong again. Ever since I have been put on remand in a cell, I have never been asked by anyone any question related to this case. My solicitor has demanded to see the police evidence, and so for we have seen some 2500 pages. And in all those pages, some animal rights related crimes of the last 2 years are forensically analysed, even a bite lock that was put on a door was investigated for DNA traces. And no evidence against any of the 10 arrestees was found. Also, police has listened to our phones, had us under surveillance, put cameras pointing at our front doors, have put V-men into our groups and have read all our emails. For 2 years! And still, they have found no evidence. So they started the huge police operation, desperate for something to use to charge us of anything, and be it tax fraud.


My arrest and remand is “justified” as follows. There is some albeit comparatively little, animal rights related criminal activity. Hence, there must be a big, hierarchical organisation run like a company, which is responsible for it. Further, since I have been active in the movement for decades, since I have international contacts and since I am influential in the movement and have run many campaigns, I must be the head of this organisation. Full stop. That is it. That is the evidence. Can you believe it? I can’t, but for all I can see, it seems to be reality.

How is it possible that I am sitting on remand for such a ludicrous “suspicion”? Good question. For 2 weeks I was given no reason why I was arrested. Then I could see the “evidence” and was put before a judge last Friday 6th June. The prosecutor read out the list of all animal rights related crimes and non-criminal actions in the last 11 years, which took a while. Then he said I am suspected to lead a criminal organisation, which is responsible for all of them. Then my solicitor said that there is no evidence. Then I wanted to give a statement, but the judge did not allow me to do so. She just handed me a prepared verdict, which said that I have to remain on remand for another 4 weeks, then she will consider my case again. And that she did with all 10 arrestees, including the campaigns director of Four Paws International.


So, what is behind all this? I think behind all this is the most fundamental attack on animal rights movement ever in the history of our movement worldwide. Let me explain. About 11 years ago, we embarked on a new type of campaigning in Austria. We used the classic grass roots campaign tactic with media work and civil disobedience actions for legal reforms. And we were very successful indeed. First, we banned fur farms, then wild animal circuses, then battery cages and vivisection on apes, and at last rabbit cage farming. Theses successes caused a lot of concern for powerful groups in society. After the hen battery cage ban was achieved in 2004, we started to feel an increasing amount of police repression. The anti-terrorist police department started to watch us and slander us by releasing statements how the suspect us of criminal activity. Also, police restricted our rights to protest ever more. Then the Minister of the Interior publicly called us a violent group. We tried to sue him for it, but he turned out to be immune to law suits as a minister. But he admitted in Parliament when questioned that his accusation was based on wrong assumptions. We publicly called him a liar, but, revealingly he did not react.


Or so we thought. At about the same time a special police squat was formed and started a major surveillance operation on us, i.e. on a number of different animal rights groups, NGOs and individuals. The rest you know already.


Since, after years of intensive surveillance, police could find no evidence of any criminal act, they had to come up with suspicion of an offence that does not need concrete evidence. For that they used a recently introduced law against terrorist groups and the mafia. This law says it is illegal to form a big (i.e. more than 10 people) organisation, which is hierarchical and run similarly to a company, which aims to influence politics or economy, and which was for that aim at least also and at least occasionally, criminal acts. Since we do run campaigns to influence politics and economy, and since there is some sort of animal rights related criminal activity, even if not related to us, on a very low level and of no serious kind but still, the State Prosecution is using the law now – for the first time in history against an NGO. And don’t forget: some of those “crimes” recounted by the State Prosecution include flyposting, run-ins, blockades and undercover investigations inside factory farms. This is a very worrying development. Police is using an anti-terrorist law against legitimate and non-criminal political campaigning. Amnesty International has voiced concern. A Green Party MP has visited me in prison and the Greens have put critical questions to the minister of the interior in Parliament. But he refused to comment. Instead, the state prosecutor released a statement to media that we are suspected of committing arson and “gas attacks”, in order to slander us.


This is a political trial, a full scale attack on legal and legitimate reformist law campaigns, which were successful. Please protest against those criminals, who are behind this attack on us, and who are probably high up in government.


I support this protest as much as I can. Immediately after my arrest, I went on hunger strike. Apart from before my court hearing in order to be able to attend, I have not eaten since. I am on my 19th day today. I have been in prison hospital for the last week, have blurred vision and fell unconscious once already. I have been told that soon they will start force-feeding me.


I need your help. I count on you. Thanks for all the support you have given us already. Please trust that there really is no evidence whatever of criminal activity against me. There is none now, and there never will be any.




DDr. Martin Balluch

Association Against Animal Factories

From prison hospital in Vienna, Austria


 

ascm P (6)
Friday June 13, 2008, 4:43 pm
Sorry, I did'nt notice Martin's messsage was already posted. I'm afraid I sleep on my feet.
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday June 13, 2008, 4:52 pm
Thanks ascmP.
 

Debbie L (180)
Friday June 13, 2008, 7:39 pm
Noted and signed several days ago, thanks Joanna for posting this
 

Dawn B (11)
Wednesday June 18, 2008, 5:42 pm
Noted signed & forwarded.
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 20, 2008, 12:22 pm
Amnesty International ist besorgt über Informationen von Seiten der RechtsvertreterInnen, wonach die
Akteneinsicht in einem Umfang beschränkt wurde, sodass selbst zum dringenden Tatverdacht und Haftgrund
keine konkreten Informationen vorliegen und den Rechtsbeiständen damit die zur Verteidigung und
Hinterfragung der Untersuchungshaft notwendigen Informationen vorenthalten werden.
Amnesty International weist darauf hin, dass gemäß Artikel 5 Abs. 2 der Europäischen
Menschenrechtskonvention jeder Festgenommene unverzüglich über die Gründe seiner Festnahme und über
die gegen ihn erhobenen Beschuldigungen unterrichtet werden muss. Gemäß § 51 Abs. 2 letzter Satz StPO ist
eine Beschränkung der Akteneinsicht solcher Aktenstücke ab Verhängung der Untersuchungshaft unzulässig,
die der Beschuldigte benötigt, um Tatverdacht und Haftgründe im Wege einer Beschwerde bekämpfen zu
können.
 

Hans L (958)
Friday June 20, 2008, 12:32 pm
This is why they should be released! art 5 .2
Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and the charge against him.
 

Hans L (958)
Friday July 4, 2008, 9:56 am
32
Amnesty International Austria No Info on Austrian Scandal!
World (tags: Human rights, animal rights, austria, amnesty )

Hans
StarsButterfliesGold Notes - 9 days ago - amnesty.at
The largest human right scandal in Austria is not that they are in prison but that Amnesty does not mention them with one single word! The 10 activists have no priority! http://www.vgt.at/actionalert/repression/prominent e/amnesty.pdf Do you find it?
 

Joanna D (216)
Friday July 4, 2008, 1:34 pm
The site doesn't work today - will be back tomorrow morning.
 

Jacinthe V (123)
Tuesday July 22, 2008, 1:11 pm
I signed the petition and pasted your storie in my PRRA group.
 

Sa R (51)
Friday July 25, 2008, 3:24 pm
Congratulations. You have successfully signed the petition:
FREEDOM FOR THE AUSTRIAN Animal Rights Advocates.

You are signer #298

Sa (person)
 

FreeSpirit Running (320)
Thursday August 14, 2008, 4:36 am
This is so noted and signed, TY you all for your great efforts and hard work. TY Joanna for the article, Hans for all of your great words my friend.

Blessings to us all,
FreeSpiritRunning...
 

stephanie v (85)
Thursday August 14, 2008, 8:40 am
Thank you ALL for your hard work. Signed petition, sent e-mails and joined group. I pledge to help in any way I am able.
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday August 14, 2008, 8:48 am
signed petition... today
 

Joanna D (216)
Thursday August 14, 2008, 12:23 pm
Thanks for your support dear friends
 
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