§278a trial in Austria - Our Solidarity Against Their Repression
From March 2nd 2010 on, 13 Austrian animal welfarists and animal liberationists have to answer for the alleged forming and supporting of a criminal organization (§278a). The trial will last for several months. The aim of the process and the preceded investigations is not to clear up crimes, but to criminalize the political work and the convictions of the animal liberationists. Nevertheless the activists of the animal liberation movement do not show themselves frightened: In order to support the ones concerned there is a call rising for manifold solidarity actions. On March 2nd there will take place an Global Day of Action against repression and on top of that the “Offensive Against the Fur Industry” (OGPI) published a statement, in which they made clear their solidarity with the defendants. Also they defend the actions of the animal liberation activists against the criminalization through the police, the national security offices and the justice. No fewer than 50 organizations from different countries support this solidarity statement.
End the criminalization of legitimate protest against the animal exploitation!
´Offensive Against the Fur Trade´ on the start of the trial of 13 activists from the animal liberation movement in Austria.
Whilst countless animals, whose lives are determined by the use-calculations of the fur trade, are kept imprisoned in fur farms, in order to make „furs“ out of their fur and whilst fashion companies merrily keep on giving the order to kill, those who have raised their voices against the killing and exploitation of non-human individuals are put on trial. It’s not the fur farmers or their profiteers, but 13 animal welfare and animal liberation activists, who will be in the dock from March 2nd. At issue in this trial is not criminal prosecution for individual crimes, but the ideals and strategies of the animal liberationists themselves. What is being criminalized here is the opposition to a murderous ideology and practice, which kills animals as piecework. The accusation of Forming a Criminal Organization (paragraph 278a) is a blatant expression of political punitive and thought judiciary. The defendants do not deserve conviction but our solidarity.
Animal Liberation as a Perspective
The use of animals is seen as their good right by most people. Yet it is not a natural given that animals are reduced to the status of usable resources, rather it is the result of political and social discourses. Whilst those who profit from this exploitation are willing to de-legitimize any reminder of animals needs and interests, animal iberationists also make themselves heard in these discussions. They demand the liberation of animals, not just from their cages, but from the position they have been prescribed to in society. And so they demand the end to any use and exploitation of animals and don’t only try to win publicity for their convictions, but also express them through campaigns and protests.
Working cooperatively and strategically on campaigns has proven to be a successful form of action for animal liberationists. After countless successful campaigns in Germany and Austria, hardly any fashion store still stock real fur. Despite all the talk of a comeback for fur, the sales figures have dropped continually. That this massive wave of repression has come at a time when animal liberationists have had such an effect on social processes, beyond changing consumer habits, is far from being a coincidence. The case shows clearly that the network of police and prosecution are willing to implement their idea of legitimate freedom of expression, methods of organization and possible courses of political action by all means.
The The Offensive Against the Fur Trade has called for campaigns against department stores and fashion houses for years and regards this case not only as an attempt to criminalize the animal liberation movement, but also to destroy an active social movement.
State Repression as a Reaction
The current 278a trial is about much more than the involvement in particular crimes: any political activity is mentioned on the charge sheets and given as evidence, whether pickets in front of fashion stores, research at animal exploiting companies, networking with other activists, or planing and participating in campaigns against the fur and vivisection industries. The ten animal welfareists and animal liberationists, who are awaiting a trial of several months, are accused of forming a criminal organization, which has been influencing political and economic decision-making processes for years. To lend these abstract accusations some credibility, a connection between legal demonstrations, civil disobedience and illegal protests is being constructed and a spectre of an internationally linked animal liberation movement inspired by terrorist logic is summoned up. That the accusations remain nebulous and the evidence tenuous, is not due to the inability of police investigators, but the expression of targeted criminalization of political activity.
In the course of the inquiries, people far beyond the circle of the accused have been spied on. The investigators did not shy away from recording personal telephone conversations, installing cameras and bugging devices in private homes, or secretly spying on bank accounts and computers. The repression reached a climax when ten accused were arrested in a massive raid of 28 homes and workspaces in May 2008. In order to legitimize the massive contingent of modern security technology, the juridically controversial paragraph 278a was needed. Only that way the threshold for the repressive proceedings could be shifted so far that every political activity could be grounds for persecution by police and prosecutors.
Not just the defendants are affected by this wave of repression, but every form of organization used by animal liberationists. Every political initiative to change the current human-animal relations is being moved into the arena of organized criminal structures, every activist put under general suspicion.
Solidarity with the Animal Liberationists as an Answer
We must clearly emphasize: it is not the demands to end violence against animals that are extreme, but the criminalizing of protest by the police, prosecution and courts. It is not the protests, campaigns or the odd illegal action which are unacceptable, but the claims of ownership of animals, which ultimately leads to the imprisonment and killing of countless individuals. Protests against the conditions that lead to the abuse and destruction of animals are not criminal but an indispensable necessity in changing the current human-animal relations towards the liberation of animals.
We therefore show solidarity with the defendants. We demand theimmediate and unconditional closure of the 278a case.
Offensive Against the Fur Trade
Animal Liberation groups / networks / organisations supporting the statement:
Aliberation Ireland | AIP - Atacca l’industria della pelliccia, Italy | Anima - foreningen for alle dyrs rettigheder, Denmark | Djuren Rätt, Sweden | Escada-Campaign (int.) | CAFT UK - Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade | CAFT Ireland | Loomade Nimel, Estonia | National Animal Rights Association Ireland | Nettverk for dyrs frihet, Norway | Oikeutta Elaimille, Finland | Respect voor Dieren, Netherlands | SHAC - Stop Hundigton Animal Cruelty (int.) | Speak Campaigns, UK | Win Animal Rights, USA
AG gegen Tierversuche Universität Bielefeld | Antispeziesistische Aktion/Bündnis gegen Tierausbeutung Tübingen | Antispeziesistische Offensive Göttingen | Basisgruppe Tierrechte, Wien | Berliner-Tierrechts-Aktion (BerTA) | die tierbefreier e.V. | die tierbefreier e.V. - Ortsgruppe Hamburg | die tierbefreier e.V. - Ortsgruppe Hameln | die tierbefreier e.V. - Ortsgruppe Bonn | die Tierfreunde e.V. | free animal e.V. | Hamburg Vegan | Karlsruhe Vegan | Kieler Initiative für Tierbefreiung | Initiative gegen die Pelztierfarm Schirmer und Partner, Rochlitz/Sachsen | Menschen für Tierrechte Würzburg | Nandu | Regensburg TierrechteAktiv e.V. | Stiftung Hof Butenland - Lebenshof für Tiere | Teens 4 Animals | Tierbefreiung-Hamburg.org | Tierbefreiungs-Soli-Vokü Hamburg | Tierrechts-Aktion-Nord (TAN) | Tierrechtsaktion Chemnitz-Erzgebirge | Tierrechtsaktion Ulm | Tierrechts AG Mainz | Tierrechts Bewegung Flensburg | Tierrechtsbündnis Berlin-Vegan | Tierrechtsgruppe Bonn | Tierrechtsgruppe Dresden | Tierrechtsgruppe Giessen | Tierrechtsinititiative Mühlheim an der Ruhr | Tierversuchsgegner München | Venga - vegane Hochschulgruppe Universität Bielefeld | What´s inside, Tierrechtsgruppe Sauerland
Offensive gegen die Pelzindustrie / Offensive Against the Fur Trade: http://offensive-gegen-die-pelzindustrie.net
You can find current information, calls for action, dates and possibilities to support the defendants on the websites of the solidarity groups: http://antirep2008.lnxnt.org (Solidarity Group Austria) and http://antirep278a.blogsport.de (Solidarity Group Germany)
Financial support needed
Alongside public solidarity actions the defendants need financial supporting a lot. There are several bank accounts where you can donate.
- Bank account Austria:
Grünalternative Jugend Wien (depositor / Kontoinhaber)
01910815873 (account number / Kontonummer)
14000 (band identifier code / Bankleitzahl)