Sedan 21 maj sitter tio österrikiska djurrättsaktivister fängslade efter att ha arresterats under vapenhot. Flera djurrättsgruppers lokaler har genomsökts och deras datorer och material har konfiskerats. Ledaren för den österrikiska djurrättsorganisationen Verein Gegen Tierfabriken, Martin Balluch, har nu hungerstrejkat i en och en halv månad och tvångsmatas på ett sjukhus för att överleva.
Djurrättsalliansen har antagit ett protestuttalande som återges i sin helhet här:
“Only some have been hit, but we’re all being targeted!”
Statement in support of Dr Martin Balluch and the Austrian animal rights movement
Since late May, Dr Martin Balluch, chairman of the Austrian animal rights organization Verein Gegen Tierfabriken (VGT) is on hunger strike in prison, following a police operation arguably of unprecedented proportions in the history of the European animal rights movement.
At gunpoint, Dr Balluch and ten other activists in the social movement for nonhuman rights were apprehended in their homes, while their offices and warehouses were raided on the morning of May 21st. Today, in the fourth week of Dr Balluch’s political hunger strike, no concrete evidence of criminal activity has been produced by the state.
Since its inception in 1992, the VGT has been in the forefront of the Austrian movement for nonhuman rights. Operating under a strict policy of non-violence, the organization has greatly contributed to raising the awareness of the issue of speciesism, an ideological sibling to racism and sexism which serves as the legitimating basis of today’s routine discrimination, oppression and killing of billions of nonhumans. After a series of successful campaigns on behalf of nonhuman animals, the VGT and other associated animal rights advocates has over a very short time span come to be discerned as a potential long-time threat to the profitability of nonhuman exploitation.
As emphasized in the official protest by Amnesty International Austria, freedom of expression through social and political activism is a human right protected by international conventions.  However, the rash actions of the Austrian state do not seem to reflect its wholehearted commitment to rule of law and democratic constitutionalism. Rather, the recent intervention seems to betray another crucial interest – the interest in protecting the commercial viability of animal exploiting businesses in the face of growing radical opposition. As pointed out by the Austrian Social Democrat Speaker of Justice, Mr Hannes Jarolim, the event clearly speaks of an “attempt to make an example”  – arguably to deter activism for social justice in general, and animal rights advocacy in specific.
The deployment of a piece of legislation (§ 278a StGB, 2002) aimed at countering terrorism and Mafia activity, as a tool for pacifying and marginalizing a social justice movement is scandalous, but all too predictable. It is highly unbecoming of a democratic state to take such dramatic action, infringing basic human rights, while at the same time leaving so many questions of evidence, judicial transparency and due process unanswered.
We wish to express our solidarity with the Austrian animal rights movement facing intensified state repression. The police operation can hardly be interpreted as anything else than a strategic effort to undermine the strength of the animal rights movement in general. As an Austrian protest banner recently read: “Only some have been hit, but we’re all being targeted.” Furthermore, since no concrete evidence of criminal offence has been produced before a court of law, we demand that the Austrian authorities without delay release Dr Martin Balluch and the other animal rights advocates apprehended in late May.
Djurrättsalliansen (Animal Rights Alliance)
 Amnesty International Österreich: Stellungnahme zur Festnahme von zehn Tierschützern am 21. Mai 2008, 4 June 2008.
 Press release: Animal protectionists: Jarolim concerned about the appropriateness of the measures taken, 27 May 2008.
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