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Austrian ARAs Raided
July 1, 2008

Austrian Arrests, New Development: Public Prosecution Fabricates Arson Attack

In an attempt to justify remand custody and draconian police measures, a hunting cabin, which burnt down as a result of an over heating stove, was used against the animal protections as an accusation of arson. This scandal comes just weeks after it was revealed that the prosecution falsified a statement of a crown witness

On May 21 2008 masked and armed officers of the Austrian elite squad WEGA broke into homes and offices of NGO workers and organisations at the crack of dawn. Since that day, 10 people arrested in the raids have been detained in remand custody. One of the detainees, president of VGT (Association against Factory Farms) Dr Martin Balluch has, also since that day, been on hunger strike. He is presently being artificially fed. A string of human rights violations against these animal protectionists has caused outrage and strong criticism towards Austrian authorities from the international community and concerned Austrians. The authorities claim, and therefore in turn the Austrian media as well, that the animal protectionists are responsible for an arson attack.
This accusation of arson came as a surprise to animal protection circles as, especially in recent years, there has been no report of arson with an animal rights connection in Austria. In the prosecution file, withheld until now from the defense, the worst suspicions can be confirmed: The allegedly animal rights motivated arson attack was in fact a hunting cabin fire caused by hunters themselves as they let a stove overheat. The public prosecution have bent the facts in order to provide a reason for mistreating and imprisoning innocent animal protectionists!

Following Facts can be found in the Police Files:

The hunting cabin burnt down on 11.11.2007 at approximately 7 p.m. The prosecution states that it happened between 11 and 13.11.2007.

The time of the fire was deliberately extended to 13.11 because, according to the surveillance reports, the VGT president Dr Martin Balluch was in the same area on that day. The deliberate time extension thus provided an opportunity to construe a suspicion. However, the public prosecution failed to disclose that Dr Balluch was in the area in order to document illegal pheasant enclosures and that he was in constant Telephone contact with the state appointed animal welfare ombudsman throughout the day. The pheasant enclosures were indeed reported to the authorities on the very next day.

The public prosecution claims that the arson was animal rights motivated, despite the fact that the fire expert assessing the incident stated that the probable cause of the fire was the overheating of a non-insulated stove placed against a wooden wall. There was no indication of arson.
Hunter lies in an effort to protect himself

During the first police interview the hunter responsible for the hunting area in which the cabin was located, told police that he did not light the stove on the day of the fire. Only a few days later, the same hunter admitted to police that he had lied. Out of fear that he would be made responsible for the burning down of the cabin, the hunter admitted that he, along with other hunters had indeed lit the stove on the same day as the fire. He told police that the fire had been burning fiercely for hours before the cabin caught fire.

One hunter belonging to this particular group even wrote to the insurance company and emphasised "the fire was not caused by a third party as claimed (this would ensure that the insurance company would pay), it was instead caused by hunting staff belonging to the hunting society, [�] who heated the wood stove too fiercely."

In order to make the animal protectionists appear responsible, a letter claiming responsibility was fabricated and mentioned in the police files. No such letter exisits. The fire was mentioned only in an animal welfare magazine.

Defense lawyer for Dr Martin Balluch, Mag. Stefan Traxler: "It begs belief how the facts have been twisted and fabricated here in an attempt to accuse my client. But, now it�s out in the open: there was no arson attack. I therefore expect that my client be released immediately and that his confiscated property and that belonging to the organisation VGT be returned without delay. We will be suing the persons responsible for damages."


June 26, 2008

Animal rights group rallies outside Austrian embassy in protest of reported arrest of animal welfare activists. 'These are dark days for Austrian democracy,' Anonymous spokeswoman says. Austrian embassy: Legal proceedings are against individuals who damaged clothing shops, animal farms

...

The Anonymous for Animal Rights organization held a rally on Tuesday outside the Austrian embassy in Tel Aviv in protest of the arrest of several animal welfare activists.

According to the group, the activists were arrested a month ago during a police raid on 21 apartments, 6 offices and a warehouse in various locations in Austria considered by local police to be the headquarters of Austria's six largest animal welfare groups. Anonymous said 15 activists were released and the remaining 10 have remained in prison for over a month.

"It is important to realize that no charges were pressed against any of the accused activists, and that they are being held as political prisoners while not being accused in anything concrete," Anonymous said.

...

... The Austrian case is part of a growing trend in the world against organizations for animal rights and welfare, such as the American Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act from November 2006, which classifies as 'terror' any act that could cause economic damage to a business abusing animals."

--

full story:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3560237,00.html


Dear all,

by now you certainly all know about the fate of Austrian activists who were arrested on 21 May and today are still kept in prison, and that without any specific charge.

You can find a lot of information about the situation here
http://www.evana. org/index. php?PHPSESSID= 7f1c5b78dff2bcc9 eda9f06067983a23 &ca
t=&lang=en&filterte xt=austria& Go=Go%21

After the first shock and the ensuing hope that this was nothing but a horrible misunderstanding to be corrected any day by the authorities, we now know better.

That's why the international AR and veg-community starts to get organized in the interest of solidarity and freedom of expression: The members of the international yahoo group 'Freedom for Austrian Activists'*) have drafted a common press release for which endorsements are requested before the text will be released to the media of many countries (and, of course, in many languages).

If you want to help by getting involved, I invite you to endorse the press release below by sending me the name and website (or e-mail address, if no website is available) of your organisation: herma.caelen@ skynet.be not later than midnight on Tuesday, June 24,
 
BTW, two banners have also been designed to draw attention to Austria's legal blind spot; they are already seen on many websites. I have uploaded them on our file list - please, feel free to use them as you see fit.

I thank you for your support.

best regards
Herma
http://pets. groups.yahoo. com/group/ Freedom_for_ Austrian_ Activists/


June 17, 2008 [Indymedia UK]

Ten animal rights campaigners have been held since the 21th May after police raided twenty-three homes and offices in Austria charging individuals with 31 different offences related to the campaign against the the fur-promoting fashion company Kleider Bauer, but most significantly of forming a criminal organisation under Section 278a of Austrian law. One of the prisoners, Martin Balluch has been on hunger strike since the arrests against the violation of his human rights and the state attacks on legitimate campaigning organisations. He is now becoming very weak and was recently moved to a prison hospital after suffering from dizzyness, blurred vision, and stomach pains. ...

--

full story:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/06/401323.html


Repression against animal rights activists - 'touch one, touch all'
by AT.Indymedia.org

At around 7:00 am on May 21, 2008, members of the Austrian elite police force (WEGA) stormed several apartments across the country. Some of the residents were woken up in their beds at gunpoint.

A total of twenty-three (23) apartments, houses and offices were searches in Vienna, Lower Austria, Styria and Tirol. In many of the apartments the WEGA kicked in the doors. The officers stormed the apartments like in bad Hollywood movies.

Repression in Austria

Only after the residents had been intimidated, "secured" on the wall and/or put in handcuffs did the police start the searches.

All the arrestees are active in the animal rights movement in Austria. The offices of at least 4 animal rights group were search by police. The 10 people, a few of which are currently on hunger strike, are still in custody. On a bail hearing on June 6th, the judge decided to keep them in jail for at least 4 weeks further.
...

Organize benefit parties, donate money for the legal help, network with each other, inform yourself about your rights, learn about and use your right to remain silent and learn about your rights in the case of a house search!

For more information and updates: at.indymedia.org and antirep2008.tk
--
full story:
http://pacificfreepress.com/content/view/2710/81/

New "Guantanamo Bay" in Vienna / Austria
http://www.wikileak s.org/wiki/ Category: Whistleblowers/ Austria

Online Petition
http://www.vgt. at/actionalert/ repression/ petition/ index_en. php

Mail the Authorities
http://www.vgt. at/actionalert/ repression/ emailappell/ index_en. php


please circulate widely
8 Jun 2008

The situation in Austria is quite dire.... it is very distressing to read Martin's statement from prison. We need to organise a protest at the Austrian Embassy in Melbourne.... will update on that, thanks.

"...I ask everyone who cares about animal protection and human rights to take action now to prevent this crime. This kind of police arbitrariness against NPOs is something we might recognize in dictatorships, but not in a democracy. Please stand up strong; stand against this outrageous injustice. My life depends on it.

Dr Martin Balluch" [on day 16 or so of hunger strike]

forwarded by ELP www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk

just wanted to update you on the situation in Austria. Yesterday the remand was extended for all ten activists. This is a routine closed court procedure in Austria and means they will be inside for at least another 4 weeks. After this, the remand may be extended for two months at a time. The reasons given for the remand are danger of concealment of evidence, because some of the arrested communicated using pgp and danger of further offences because some have been active in the animal rights movement for several years. This could result in them being remanded for up to a year.

They have been charged with membership of a criminal organisation. This offence was created to deal with organised crime like money laundering and mafia activities and has never been used for political activists before.

As far as I know, only three are on hunger strike now. And their physical situation has deteriorated greatly. Force feeding is allowed in Austria, but it is not known at what point. The situation with vegan food isn't great, with them getting bread and jam for breakfast and in the evening. For lunch they get something warm, but it's not much. The legal aid group in Vienna are really good and are sorting out as much as they can but it's difficult. Visits are restricted with glass wall and phone and are often not allowed as they are being recorded and listened to by someone, so they are only allowed when this person has time. They are only half an hour, twice a week at best. Phone calls are not allowed because of the danger of concealment allegation. Nothing is allowed to be brought in or sent except letters, which generally take between 2-4 weeks to get through to Austrian remand prisoners.

They all want letters but most do not want their complete names published

Christoph, Jan, Kevin Kroemmer, Leo, Martin Balluch, Sabine.
Antirep 2008, Postfach 101, 1070, Vienna, Austria

Letters will be passed on by the soli-group.

Would be good if you could spread this around a bit.

All the best

Amnesty international statement against the police raids
http://www.vgt.at/presse/news/2008/news20080605_1_en.php

Appeal from Dr Martin Balluch, still in prison
http://www.vgt.at/presse/news/2008/news20080604_en.php

Letter from Martin Balluch

12 days ago in the night, in my own home, I was attacked and robbed by a group of armed, masked men. This is an unending nightmare. To this day I am still sitting in a tiny cell and stare all day long at the same desolate wall, and cannot take a single step in privacy, nor can I read the newspaper or see my friends and family.

This is the 13th day of my hunger strike. Having been attacked and locked away without even the smallest reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime, I found myself forced to use the last of my autonomy to make a protest: I refuse to eat. 13 days without food is very painful. The sensations of hunger drill down into all levels of my consciousness. My body is visibly deteriorating. I have already lost 18 kilos. Every movement is awful and exhausting, and I have frequent severe muscle and stomach cramps.

I read in the mile-high file on my case that the police have been listening in on my life without interruption for more than a year now, listening in on every private and intimate conversation that I have. And even so they have not found even one single bit of proof that would show I had broken the law. The only "proof" against me that is mentioned are my convictions, convictions that are evidenced in private conversations and in interviews with and reports about me in the media. Yes, animal protection is terribly important to me and I have dedicated my life to it. Yes, I believe that the horrific treatment of animals in laboratories and animal factories is not irrelevant in general or to my life, but is instead comparable to the torture and abuse of people. But this does not make me a criminal. For 25 years now I have been active for animal protection and not once have I ever been convicted of a crime. In this country we have the freedom to express our opinions and the freedom to think as our conscience leads us to. At least that is what I used to believe until very recently. The civil and human rights guaranteed by the Austrian Constitution forbid persecuting, abusing and locking away someone for their beliefs. But indeed, exactly that is what is happening to me.

In the two-and-a-half decades in which I have been active for animal protection, I had great successes especially in recent years. I was able to personally contribute significantly to the prohibition of fur farms, wild animals in circuses and above all to the end of battery chicken farms, so that in Austria today we have the best animal protection in the world. But it's exactly that - especially the end of the battery chicken farms - that seems to have soured some of the powerful. Since 2004 there has been increasing harassment from the authorities, culminating in false testimony about the Association Against Animal Factories being made by the then Minister of the Interior before the Austrian Parliament. A suit filed for revocation of his remarks met with no success because of his parliamentary immunity, but he was forced to admit to the federal Ombudsman Board (Volksanwaltschaft) that he had "been wrong." He did not even react then to newspaper ads in which the Association against Animal Factories stated that he was a liar.

But, as it says in my file, a Special Commission against animal protection was instituted and it has eavesdropped on me and many other animal protection activists and associations since approximately April 2007. However, since obviously no real suspicion could be founded despite spying on all of these many conversations and emails, something had to happen. The Special Commission couldn't be dissolved without any results. So it was decided to undertake a major raid and house searches in a dramatic way, in the hopes of digging up some kind of circumstantial evidence.

According to my file there were 23 searches made on 21 May, targeting animal protectionists' private spaces, including five offices of animal protection associations (also the Association against Animal Factories offices in Vienna and Graz) as well as the VGT materials storage area. 24 animal protectionists were arrested by the police and questioned, including 8 VGT activists.

As cause for the action, since there were no specific suspicions, the vaguest and most unspecific accusation had to be found. It was decided to choose Section 278a of the Criminal Code, dealing with the establishment of a very large criminal organization. Since it had been planned from the beginning to put 10 people into investigative custody, Section 278a with its significantly worse punishment for large criminal associations was chosen instead of the "smaller" Section 278. Despite the fact that, as the police file itself says, I had personal contact of any kind ever with only 6 of the other 9 detainees.

In order to justify this brutal police action against animal protection to the public, the elite 'WEGA' force was sent to carry out the raids with weapons drawn, and then rumours regarding suspected arson and gas attacks were spread. There's nothing about this in the file, though. Never has there been a gas attack in Austria having anything to do with animal protection, and the last case of animal-protection related arson lies six years back. The fact of the matter is that damage to property in the name of animal protection is extraordinarily rare in Austria compared to other countries. This is certainly due to the great animal protection successes of recent years in Austria. We were able to bring about change in Austria. Accordingly, the frustration level is low in Austria, frustration levels being the main trigger for such actions where they are high.

Why then am I not set free now? It's quite simple. The entire action was politically motivated and probably directed from the top. If I were set free now, then the public would see it as an admission that the whole action and all the work of the Special Commission had not resulted in any useful results whatsoever. So I have to remain in this cell and slowly starve, so that the Minister of the Interior can save face. It wouldn't surprise me if it were being planned to set us free during the decisive EuroCup games in the hopes of avoiding press coverage.

This scandal cannot be tolerated. I ask everyone who cares about animal protection and human rights t o take action now to prevent this crime. This kind of police arbitrariness against NPOs is something we might recognize in dictatorships, but not in a democracy. Please stand up strong; stand against this outrageous injustice. My life depends on it. [my bolding]

Dr Martin Balluch
Chairman of the Association against Animal Factories
Address:
Zelle B3/15
Justizanstalt Wien-Josefstadt


Subject: Brutal arrests in Austria and Empatia's response

After the protests in Austria, Germany and Sweden, on 4 June 2008 Empatia together with Viva! Foundation took part in a demonstration in front of the Austrian Embassy in Poland against the brutal arrests of animal activists in Austria. The aggressive police intervention had taken place on 21 May 2008.

Read our account of the protest in front of Austrian Embassy in Warsaw:
http://empatia. pl//str.php? dz=85&id= 628

Regards,
Darek Gzyra
Empatia

http://empatia. pl

for lots of info, including the official Amnesty International Austria statement regarding the recent 24 house, apartment and association raids, see the vgt (Association against Animal Factories) link below:

http://www.vgt.at/index_en.php
My Signature:
Rousseau: Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

http://www.vgt.at 
http://www.lafranceenaction.com 
http://animalamnistie.free.fr/
http://asso.burdivega.free.fr/ 
http://www.international-campaigns.org 
http://www.arkangelweb.org/ 
http://www.animal-friends-croatia.org/  (Animal Friends, Croatia)

According to the ADA (American Dietetic Association) and the BMA (British Medical Association)
a well balanced "100% Plant Based Diet" IS OK for all stages of life, from pregnancy through to old age.


June 4, 2008

A group of animal rights activists are on hunger strike following police raids in Austria
...
Twenty-five years ago my feature documentary The Animals Film was shown during Channel 4's opening week and later around the world. It placed animal rights on the international agenda and inspired a generation of activists. Today in Austria a group of animal rights campaigners are in their third week in prison on hunger strike after unprecedented nationwide police raids.

At dawn on May 21, Austrian police broke down doors of homes and offices across the country and seized campaigners at gunpoint. Since then, 10 shelter workers, animal welfare teachers and public campaign organizers have been held for more than two weeks under suspicion of membership in "a criminal organisation". No charges have been pressed. The detainees are demanding they be charged or released.

One might be forgiven for thinking that unbeknownst to the outside world Austria has been riven by violence from activists desperate for an impact in a society indifferent to their cause. Yet Austria is the most progressive country in the world on animal rights. Laws have passed banning fur farms and wild animals in circuses, and phasing out all battery chicken farms.
...
"The idea of freedom of expression is threatened in Austria," says Elisabeth Sablik, a zoologist friend of Balluch. "This is not a case about illegal animal rights activities. It is because the movement has been too successful."
--
full story:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/05/animalwelfare.austria


[Indymedia UK]

Ten Austrian animal rights campaigners have been held for two weeks without charge after draconian raids on the 21st May. One has been on hunger strike since then and is becoming very weak. We urgently need international support to exert pressure on the Austrian authorities and media, who are painting the prisoners as terrorists without having produced any evidence.

Twenty-four homes and offices were raided by the elite WEGA police force, guns were held to suspects' heads. Lawyers for the ten detained activists have not been given full access to the prosecution papers and no clear charge has yet been pressed. Other human rights violations have included forcibly taking DNA samples and restriction of visiting hours.

--

full story:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/06/399991.html


Austria AR website: http://www.vgt.at/index_en.php
 
Vienna, 29th May 2008
Animal rights campaigners held in custody protest harsh treatment by Austrian authorities

Seven on hunger strike after being held on remand without charge for eight days

A leading Austrian animal rights campaigner has passed the 8th day of a hunger strike in protest at draconian arrests by the authorities. Dr Martin Balluch was one of ten people arrested after twenty-four homes and offices of animal welfare activists and organisations were raided by the elite WEGA police force at 6.15 a.m. on Wednesday 21st May. Seven of the campaigners are now on hunger strike. The police action appears to have been prompted by anti-fur protests but after a week no charges have been brought.

Harald Balluch, managing director of the VGT (Association against Animal Factories) and brother of Martin, described the scene in his flat. "I awoke to the sound of the door being broken in, immediately a group of armed and masked people surrounded my bed where my girlfriend and I were sleeping and aimed their weapons at us. They screamed at me that they would shoot me if I moved. We have two elderly rescued dogs, who were brutally manhandled. As you can imagine, all four of us were absolutely terrified."

Lawyers representing the ten campaigners have issued formal complaints against the police concerning a string of human rights violations. These include detention without being charged for all those on remand, unnecessary force used by the police during the house raids and DNA samples being taken from two of the detainees against their will using force.

Martin, who is the President of VGT, was only allowed a visit for the first time by his family and girlfriend on 27th May and they were horrified at his weak condition. Martin said, "After so many days without food I feel very weak. If I move quickly, then everything revolves. But I still have confidence in the rule of law in this country, that we here in Austria cannot be treated in this way without good reason. And that's why I will continue on hunger strike until I am either given a reason or released"

The animal protection movement in Austria has at the same time been a thorn in the side of influential people for several years and an example to the rest of the world of progressive law changes to the benefit of animals. Achieving bans on fur farming, wild animals in circuses, battery cages and caged rabbit farming campaigners have shown what is possible. Martin Balluch has led a series of high-profile inspections into the conditions of pig production, resulting in public outrage against farmers and the fear of legal improvements. He has also provoked international interest last year by bringing a legal case to establish a chimp as a person in Austrian law so that a legal guardian could be established. An English woman living in Vienna, Paula Stibbe, has been proposed as the guardian for the chimp, called Matthew, whose sanctuary has been under threat of closure.

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. There have been accusations of arson, smashing windows and spray-painting and the authorities claim that the protestors belong to a criminal organization responsible for these actions. 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."

The Austrian Green Party has criticized the Crown Prosecution Service for withholding documents from lawyers whilst the detainees continue with their hunger strike. Brigid Weinzinger, the Spokesperson for Animal Welfare, said, "Unless the Crown Prosecution Service has concrete charges that they can bring against the detainees, their detention on remand is clearly unlawful. It is prohibited by law to keep a person locked up on remand as an attempt to discredit legal animal welfare campaigning, or because the legal campaigning on behalf of animals causes some politicians discomfort. Withholding documents from the detainees' lawyers is a deliberate attempt to prevent them from being properly defended. This constitutes a massive infringement to their rights."

Demonstrations in solidarity with the protestors have been taking place in Vienna, Wiener Neustadt, Graz, Bregenz, Hamburg, Berlin, Stockholm, Munich and Salzburg.


May 27, 2008

Finally, the below Press Release was circulated today about the arrests.

Press Release, 28 May, 2008:

Austria. Indefensible Attack against Animal Welfare Movement

Twenty-four House and Office Raids, Ten Arrests, No Concrete Charges, and a String of Human Rights Violations result in Seven People on Hungerstrike

The morning of 21st May saw the first massive raid from police against the animal welfare movement through out the whole of Austria.

A total of twenty-four homes and offices of animal welfare activists and organisations were raided by police at 6.15 a.m., Harald Balluch, managing director of the VGT (Association against Animal Factories) described the scene in his flat. "I awoke to the sound of the door being broken in, immediately a group of armed and masked people surrounded my bed where my girlfriend and I were sleeping and aimed their weapons at us. They screamed at me that they would shoot me in the head if I moved. We have two elderly rescued dogs, who were brutally manhandled. As you can imagine, all four of us were absolutely terrified.

Seven organisations have been affected and ten people were taken into custody. Police have justified this action by saying that the campaigners are suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation �278a of the Austrian criminal code. However, after a week of keeping these people in custody no charges have been made against them.

Improvements for animals achieved by the Austrian movement have set a world wide example

The animal welfare movement in Austria has achieved a great deal for animals in the last years. The success list includes a ban on fur farms, a ban on wild animals in circuses, a ban on caged rabbits used for meat and a ban on battery cages for chickens. Austria is regarded world wide as one of, if not the most impressive country in terms of animal welfare.These successes are entirely down to researching the conditions that animals are kept in, giving the public access to this information and political lobbying. Harald Balluch distances himself and the VGT from any illegal activities." This police action is designed to discredit the work being done for animals. The intention is to damage the reputation of animal campaigners and campaign work. Through the police raids, our office along with four others, has been brought to a stand still. Our computers with our complete data bank have been taken along with all our mobile phones and years of research material. We have no possibility of contacting our supporters. Our phone and fax lines were also out of order for sometime after the raid making contact with media impossible."

A String of human rights violations

Lawyers representing the ten campaigners have issued formal complaints against the police concerning a string of human rights violations. These include detention without being charged for all those on remand, unnecessary force used by the police during the house raids and DNA samples being taken from two of the detainees against their will using force.

Hunger Strike

In an effort to protest against this injustice, seven of the people on remand are on hunger strike. Their request for diluted fruit juice was denied, so they are just drinking water

Martin Balluch�s family and girlfriend, who were allowed to visit him for the first time on 27th May, on the seventh day after his arrest, commented after seeing Martin "We were absolutely horrified by Martin�s condition. This is now his seventh day on hunger strike and his movements and speech are extremely weak and slow."

Please show your support for human rights by writing protest mails to the following Austrian politicians. These random acts of police repression could happen to any one of us, who cares about how animals are treated:

Home Secretary; Dr G�nter Platter
ministerbuero@ bmi.gv.at
Minister for Justice; Frau Dr Berger
minister.justiz@ bmi.gv.at
Federal President; Dr Heinz Fischer
heinz.fischer@ hofburg.at
Federal Chancellor; Dr Alfred Gusenbauer
alfred.gusenbauer@ bka.gv.at


++++++++++++ +

Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
BM Box 2407
London
WC1N 3XX
England
www.spiritoffreedom .org.uk

 


-------- Original-Nachricht --------

Betreff:

Fw: URGENT FWD. AUSTRIA-SCANDAL- HOUSE SEARCH AND ARREST FOR ANIMAL ACTIVISTS

Datum:

Sun, 25 May 2008 13:27:55 +0200

Von:

Tierschutz Puszta Ungarn Süd

PLEASE FORWARD AROUND THE GLOBE------ -----FOR THE WELFARE OF ALL ANIMALS ON EARTH AND OUR FRIENDS; COLLEAGUES; PARTNERS AND CO-PARTNERS; THE TORTURED ANIMALS WORLDWIDE NEED OUR HELP AND WE WILL NOT STOP TO SPEAK FOR THIS PEACEFUL CREATURES :we are sad, angry but not powerless.

THIS IS AN URGENT CALL TO ALL ANIMAL FRIENDS---STOP- --HOUSE SEARCH AT SEVERAL AUSTRIAN ACTIVISTS AT =06.00 hrs IN THE MORNING--IN FRONT OF FAMILY MEMBERS AND CHILDREN---STOP- --OFFICES SEARCHED--7 ORGANISATIONS INVOLVED---- STOP---EVERYTHING CONFISCATED FROM COMPUTER TO DOCUMENTS; HADY (mobil phones; Cell phones) BOOKKEEPING- --STOP--- ONE OF THE MEMBERS IS ON HUNGER STRIKE- --STOP--- SO FAR THE CHARGES ARREST----- BUILDING A CRIMINAL ORGANISATION- -----EVEN ONE VEGAN ORGANISATION WAS SEARCHED:

AT THIS TIME; TO GET THIS MESSAGE AROUND THE GLOBE WE JUST DID COPY A SELECTION OF LINKS; NEWS; PLEASE FIND MAIL ADDRESSES WITHIN THE INFORMATION TO WRITE YOU APPEAL TO THE PRESS; MINISTRY; EMBASSY---STOP: WE KEEP YOU POSTED: LANGUAGE INFORMATION- ---STOP-- --MOST IN GERMAN LANGUAGE; ONE ENTRY FROM SPAIN; ONE ENTITY FOR CROATIA----STOP- ---WE TRY TO GET MORE LANGUAGE-TRANSLATIONS---STOP: --Please get engaged this can happen anytime to you too. Thank you for your time attention and solidaritation. Cordula, Animal Protection Puszta Hungary south.

----- Original Message -----

From: "EVANA" <mailto:news@evana.org>

To: <mailto:info@evana.org>

Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 7:27 PM

Subject: EVANA Newsletter May 2008: Austrian activists in prison

EVANA - NEWSLETTER
 MAY 2008
 Dear friends, Because something really unsettling has occurred in Austria on 21 May, we won't send the usual Newsletter this month but prefer to inform you about the problem instead.

The UN Charter, article 11.1 states: "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence." http://www.identitytheft.net/why-the-udhr-still-matters/

In many modern nations people accused of crimes enjoy this legal right. Also in Austria. Or so one would have thought. Unfortunately the fate of some animal rights and veg* activists now raises serious doubts as to the appropriateness of police work in that country: According to press information, doors were kicked in when balaclava-wearing, armed special units of police stormed apartments and store-rooms at 6 a.m. last Wednesday. Guns were pointed at some half-asleep and confused civilians, they were handcuffed, and their terrified dogs noosed and removed.

During hours flats were searched from top to bottom, creating havoc, dirt and destruction. 14 activists were imprisoned. All electronic equipment, the complete address-material and basically every work-tool for everyday business was confiscated so that the respective organisations are more or less paralyzed because of this brutal official intervention. Punishment before being pronounced guilty?

This kind of police raid would not surprise in some countries known for their brutality. One may even understand such violent strategies when dangerous terrorists have to be arrested. But this incredible action happened in Austria of all places, and the activists are not suspected of having murdered humans, tortured animals, or committed other heinous crimes!

No concrete charges were brought against the imprisoned activists so far, which represents a breach of the convention of human rights. They do not know what wrongs they are personally supposed to be guilty of since only general allegations against the animal rights community were made. The law is the law and has to be respected. However, at the same time there is also a civilized way of executing legal procedures and another one giving serious cause for concern. Could the heavy-handedness shown by the Austrian police today happen in your country tomorrow?

It is certainly in the interest of every activist to keep a watchful eye on what is going on and to give all possible support to everyone suffering from excessive zeal in a certain European country right now. We have done just that. The EVANA team has reacted quickly and within a few hours the news was published on our website (see the link on top/ in the middle of each page of the eight language sections). Some demos and actions of solidarity in different countries are being announced or organised right now. In case you know of events supporting the Austrian activists, please send us the details so that we can add the news: mailto:info@evana.org

Please spread the word! Make people aware of what happened to our friends and colleagues in Austria, and monitor the situation closely! The addresses of Austrian Embassies in your countries can be found here. http://www.embassyw orld.com/ dev/result. php?guest= 14&host=%25&count=0&menu=1

Our next Newsletter in June will hopefully bring happier news. In the meantime we can only wait and hope for a just and fair treatment of the Austrian activists and send them our very best wishes.

Best regards Your international EVANA Team www.evana.org http://www.evana. org/index. php?id=34101&lang=es
SPANISH LANGUAGE

http://www.vgt. at/presse/ news/2008/ news20080522. php

http://www.vgt. at/presse/ news/2008/ news20080523. php

Send this two links to the press addresses press:

leser@kurier. at
chefredaktion@ kronenzeitung. at
leserbriefe@ diepresse. com
leserbriefe@ derstandard. at
leserbriefe@ oe24.at

main informationfrom: http://www.tirolert ierengel. com/verhaftungTi erschuetzerOeste rreich.htm if you have more links/languages- -please send to:

peter.kahr@gmx. at

Interior Ministry: post@bmi.gv. at

Link Interior Ministry: http://www.bmi. gv.at/minister/

Addresses of the Austrian Embassies

Botschaften und andere diplomatischen Vertretungen von Österreich

in Deutschland

Art der Vertretung
Adresse / Webseite
Telefon
Fax
Öffnungszeiten
zuständig für

eMail

Botschaft von Österreich
Stauffenbergstr. 1
10785 Berlin
030-20 28 70
030-2 29 05 69
Mo. - Fr. 08.30 - 16.30 Uhr
Für Konsularangelegenhe iten: Mo. - Fr. 09.00 - 12.00 Uhr und Mi. 16.00 - 18.00 Uhr
Land Berlin, Land Brandenburg, Land Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, Freistaat Sachsen, Land Sachsen-Anhalt und Freistaat Thüringen
berlin-ob@bmaa. gv.in
Außenstelle der Botschaft Österreich
Johanniterstraße 2
53113 Bonn
0228- 53 00 60
0228- 54 90 40
Länder Nordrhein-Westfalen , Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz und Saarland
bonn-as@bmaa. gv.in
Generalkonsulat der Republik Österreich
Alsterufer 37
20354 Hamburg
040-41 32 95 00
040-45 29 07
Mo - Fr 09.00 - 12.00 Uhr
Länder Bremen, Hamburg, Niedersachsen und Schleswig-Holstein
austgkhh@cntmail. von
Generalkonsulat von Österreich
Ismaninger Straße 136
81675 München
089-9 98 15-0
089-9 81 02 25
Mo. - Fr. 09.00 - 12.00; Mi. 14.00 - 16.00 Uhr
Länder Bayern und Baden-Württemberg
muenchen-gk@ bmaa.gv.in
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Auf dem Dreieck 5
28197 Bremen
0421-5 36 86 79
0421-5 36 86 78
Mo-Fr 09.00-12.00 Uhr

Land Bremen
oesterr.konsulat@ thb-bremen. von
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Königswall 21
44137 Dortmund
0231-9 05 61 01
0231-9 05 61 12
Mo. - Do. 10.00-12.00, 14.00 - 16.00, Fr. 10.00 - 12.30 Uhr
Arnsberg im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
An der Frauenkirche 12
01067 Dresden
0351-4 82 89 30
0351-4 82 89 59
Mo. - Fr. jeweils von 09.00 - 12.00 Uhr
Land Sachsen
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Lyoner Straße 16
60528 Frankfurt am Main
069-66 06 196
069-66 06 197
Mo-Fr 09.00-13.00 Uhr
Land Hessen und Rheinland-Pfalz
email@austroko. ffm.von
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Kaiserstraße 30
90763 Fürth
0911-9 74 73 33
0911-9 74 73 65
Mo. - Fr. 09.00 - 12.00 Uhr
Regierungsbezirke Oberfranken, Mittelfranken und Oberpfalz im Land Bayern.
info@oesterr- honorarkonsulat- nuernberg. com
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Constantinstraße 40
30177 Hannover
0511-9 07 48 70
0511-9 07 48 12
Mo-Fr 10.00-11.00 Uhr
Land Niedersachsen
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Bergstraße 2
24103 Kiel
0431-55 25 05
0431-5 19 42 34
Mo-Fr 09.30-11.30 Uhr
Land Schleswig-Holstein mit Ausnahme der Stadt Lübeck sowie der Kreise Herzogtum Lauenburg, Ostholstein und Stormarn
austriahoko- kiel@t-online. von
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Gertrudenstraße 15
23568 Lübeck
0451-3 10 01 50
0451-3 10 01 42
Mo-Fr 09.00-12.00 Uhr
Stadt Lübeck sowie die Kreise Herzogtum Lauenburg, Ost-Holstein und Stormarn im Land Schleswig-Holstein
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Thoner Weg 7
90425 Nürnberg
0911-34 19 67
0911-9 38 13 82
Mo. - Fr. 09.00 - 12.00 Uhr
Regierungsbezirke Oberfranken, Mittelfranken, Unterfranken und Oberpfalz im Land Bayern.
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
August-Bebel- Straße 11-12
18057 Rostock
0381-64 91 22
0381-64 91 49

oesterreich@ konsulat- rostock.von
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Bahnhofstraße 1 (St. Johanner Markt)
66111 Saarbrücken
0681-9 58 15 0
0681-9 58 15 19
Mo. - Fr. 09.00 - 12.30 Uhr
Land Saarland
thiery@raethiery. von
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Stafflenbergstraße 81
70184 Stuttgart
0711-62 62 60
0711-62 82 64
Mo. - Fr. 10.00-12.00 Uhr
Land Baden-Württemberg und Reg.-Bez. Schwaben im Land Bayern
Quelle, 1.11.2005
in der Schweiz Quelle
Konsularabteilung der Botschaft von Österreich
Kirchenfeldstrasse 77/79
Case postale 266
3005 Bern
031/356 52 82
031/351 56 64
9h00 - 12h00
Bern, Freiburg, Jura, Neuenburg, Solothurn, Wallis
bern-ob@bmaa. gv.in
Generalkonsulat von Österreich
Lange Gasse 37
Case postale
4052 Basel
061/271 35 35
061/280 29 10
Basel-Land, Basel-Stadt
Konsulat von Österreich
Obere Gasse 41
Case postale 522
7002 von Norwegen
081/257 01 95
081/257 01 91
Graubünden
Generalkonsulat von Österreich
Rue Imbert Galloix 7
Case postale 3098
1205 Genf
022/319 72 88
022/319 72 85
Genf
austria@generalkons ulat-genf. org
Konsulat von Österreich
Avenue d'Ouchy 66
case postale 68
1000 Lausanne 6
021/617 28 94
021/613 10 05
Waadt
Konsulat von Österreich
Hirschengraben 13
6003 Luzern
041/210 41 82
041/210 62 26
Luzern
konsulat-in@ bluewin.ch
Konsulat von Österreich
via Pretorio 7
Case postale 3046
6901 Lugano
091/913 40 07
091/913 40 09
Tessin
Konsulat von Österreich
Bahnhofstrasse 7
1. Stock rechts
9000 St. Gallen
071/230 19 70
071/230 19 71
Appenzell, St. Gallen
info@oe-konsulat- sg.ch
Generalkonsulat von Österreich
Seestrasse 161
8002 Zürich
044/283 27 00
044/280 37 65
Aargau, Glarus, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Thurgau, Uri, Zug,
Zürich
zuerich-gk@bmaa. gv.in
in Frankreich Quelle
Botschaft von Österreich
6, rue Faber
75007 Paris
01.40.63.30. 63
01.45.55.63. 65
paris-ob@bmaa. gv.in
Konsularabteilung von Österreich
17, avenue von Villars
75007 Paris
01.40.63.30. 90
01.45.55.63. 65
paris-ob@bmaa. gv.in
Generalkonsulat von Österreich
29, avenue von la Paix
67000 Strasbourg
03.88.35.13. 94
03.88.25.19. 88
strassburg-gk@ bmaa.gv.in
Honorargeneralkonsu lat von Österreich
27, cours Pierre Puget
13006 Marseille
04.91.53.02. 08 /04.96.10.07. 50
04.91.53.71. 51
Konsulat-autriche@ renard-associes. com
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
10, rue Bonaparte
20000 Ajaccio
06.08.05.24. 88
04.95.21.22. 68 ou 01.45..3.11. 21 (hors saison été)
Konsulatautriche- ajaccio@hotmail. com
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
86, cours Balguerie-Stuttenbe rg
33300 Bordeaux
05.56.00.00. 70
05.57.87.60. 30
consulatautriche.
bordeaux@fr. oleane.com
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
18, rue Jean Moulin
59800 Lille
03.20.22.75. 00
03.20.93.16. 70
Konsulat-autriche- lille@bvp. fr
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
27, rue von la Villette
69003 Lyon
06.30.93.92. 74
06.30.93.92. 74
Konsulat.a.lyon@ wanadoo.fr
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
6, avenue von Verdun
06000 Nice
04.93.87.01. 31
04.93.87.59. 92
Konsulat.autriche@ wanadoo.fr
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
32, rue des Cosmonautes
BP 34171
31031 Toulouse Cedex 4
05.61.20.82. 50
05.62.16.13. 62
toulouse-hk@ wanadoo.fr
Honorarkonsulat von Österreich
Boulevard Pomare
B.P.4560
97800 Papeete
00.689.43.91. 14
00.689.43.91. 14
paulmaetztahiti@ mail.pf
in Spanien und in den USA (Daten älteren Datums, Überprüfung zu gegebener Zeit)
Embajada von la Republica von Austria
P�. von la Castellana, 91, 9�
E - 28046 Madrid
+34 - 91 556 53 15, +34 - 91 556 54 03 y +34 - 91 556 55 04
+34 - 91 59735 79
Botschaft von Austria
3524 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008
+1 - 202-895-6700
+1 - 202-895-6750
obwas@sysnet. net
andere Botschaften von Österreich / diplomatischen Vertretungen von Österreich (nur Webseiten, die Aufzählung erhebt keinen Anspruch auf Vollständigkeit):
Österreichische Botschaft in Kairo, Ägypten
Österreichische Botschaft in Australien
Österreichische Botschaft in Tallinn, Estland
Österreichische Botschaft in Rom, Italien
Österreichische Botschaft in Ottawa, Kanada
Österreichische Botschaft in Mexiko
Österreichische Botschaft in Pressburg, Slowakei
Österreichische Botschaft in Stockholm, Schweden
Österreichische Botschaft in Prag, Tschechien
Österreichische Botschaft in Budapest, Ungarn
Ständige Vertretung bei der UNO in Genf
Ständige Vertretung bei der UNO in New York

May 23, 2008

Several Austrian animal rights organizations raided and 10 activists in detention

On Wednesday morning, May 21, 2008 at 6.00 a.m. the police knocked on several doors of animal rights activist�s residences and offices in different towns of Austria. The places were intensely searched, computers, mobile phones, video and photo cameras, photos and video tapes, papers, records, databases, and much more was confiscated.

Members of the organizations BAT, VGT, VG�, WTV, Vier Pfoten, and other private persons were detained.

The organisations BAT, VGT, RespekTiere and TierWege were left without basic means to continue their legal work. They have no chance to communicate, as all phone numbers were in the confiscated mobile phones, and email addresses were in the computers, as well as data to update their websites. It is not even possible for them, at this point, to collect donations from their members to set up a new technical infrastructure, as even the member database have gone with the seized materials.

The police states that the examination of the computers will probably only start next year, as they are very busy.

Official reason for this is the dubious Austrian Act � 278a StGB that speaks of the �Formation of a criminal body� and in the newspapers rumors are spread about butyric-acid and arson attacks in the ongoing legal campaign against fur-selling fashion-chain Kleider Bauer. But there is no official information at this moment.

The Austrian animal rights scene has gained in reputation during the last years. Quiet a number of animal protection scandals have been uncovered, where people up to the highest positions in politics and media were involved in.

Ten animal rights activists were detained. During the weekend it will be decided who of those will be released and who remains in custody. It is assumed that four activists will remain in detention pending trail.

Cause and effect of these sudden events can be questioned. It is clear that actions performed by all groups disturb several powerful people, at first hand Kleider Bauer, but also other who want to maintain their profit in business or political position, may this be in the fur or circus industry, factory farming, hunting lobby, etc.

Not only Austrian organisations are alarmed. Democracy once more has been defied, and those fighting for the rights of those, who themselves have not even a voice to raise, again endure character assassination, being called criminals and terrorists, instead of what they really are � animal rights activist, people who try to be a voice of the voiceless.


Press Release from the Legal Defense Team (Rechtshilfe) about the Wave of Repression

On May 21, twenty-three apartments, houses and offices in Austria were searched by the police. Some of the residents were woken up with guns drawn on them.

Press conference from the legal assistance: May 26 at 10 am.

(Austria) - Around 7:00 am on Wednesday May 21 members of the Viennese elite police force (WEGA) stormed several apartments in Vienna. Some of the residents were woken up in their beds with guns drawn on them. A total of twenty-three (23) apartments, houses and offices were searches in Vienna, Lower Austria, Styria and Tirol.

In many of the apartments the WEGA kicked in the doors. The officers stormed the apartments like in bad Hollywood movies. Only after the residents had been intimidated, 'secured' on the wall and/or put in handcuffs did the police start the searches.

The grounds for the searches was the accusation Formation of a Criminal Organization according to �278a of the criminal code. 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) 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. A criminal organization is completely arbitrarily constructed to be made responsible for all unsolved criminal offenses of the last few years. The accusations are not substantiated by any evidence; on the contrary - the authorities apparently hope to find evidence which confirms their suspicions through the house searches. Up til now and also in the future the suspicion of Forming a Criminal Organization can not be corroborated either by evidence or vague assumptions.

The targeted persons were brought directly from their apartments to the police detention center at Rossauer L�nde and will be brought before a custodial judge within 48 hours. (Update: the targeted persons are being remanded to Wiener Neustadt, where they will face the above-mentioned custodial judge.) During the house searches a large part of the targeted persons were denied the ability to call a person of their confidence or legal representatives. Friends who wanted to observe the legality of the actions were also denied the possibility to speak to the targeted persons.

The actions of the authorities were out of proportion. The early morning storming of the apartments by masked WEGA officers with drawn weapons can only be described as completely excessive.
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. 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, this wave will certainly hit other forms of resistance and areas of activism.

The repression of leftist structures reached a new high point today with the wave of house searches and arrests. House searches by masked WEGA officers who kick down doors and and wake sleeping persons with drawn weapons have not been employed against the radical left in the past several years. The last time that a similar house search was made was after the Opera Ball Protest in 2001 directed against the EKH (a squat and autonomous center in Vienna).

This sort of action from the officials does not only ignite fear in the targeted persons. Friends and other activists are intended to be frightened by such actions as well. The excessive and sometimes brutal police operations try to communicate that resistance is not worth it. We can not allow ourselves to be isolated from one another. Together we can talk about our fears and develop strategies for dealing with them.

We are asking for solidarity for those targeted by the wave of repression. It does not matter if you are vegan, feminist, antifaschist, against surveillance, atomic energy or police brutality - we are all targeted, even if only a few are directly affected at the moment!

Organize benefit parties, donate money for the legal help, network with each other, inform yourself about your rights, learn about and use your right to remain silent and learn about your rights in the case of a house search!

Info hotline for targeted people, friends, and family: + 43 650/5926791

antirep2008 (at) gmx.at

On Monday, May 26 at 10:00 am there will be a press conference from the legal assistance at the press room of the Green Parlamentary Club, located L�welstra�e 12, on the second floor.
http://no-racism.net/article/2561


Starting at 6:00 a.m. today, houses, flats and storerooms belonging to animal rights activists were raided and the inhabitants arrested all across Austria. In several cases activists were woken by armed police and brutally handcuffed. They could only look on helplessly as their homes and possessions were ransacked by police.


Doors were kicked in by balaclava-wearing armed special units of police (WEG), who treated the activists as if they were dangerous terrorists. 14 people were arrested and are on remand. They've been charged with 31 different offences related to the campaign against the the fur-promoting fashion company Kleider Bauer, but most significantly of forming a criminal organisation under �278a of Austrian law.

Kleider Bauer is renowned for trying to silence its opponents through court order and restricting their rights to demonstrate. For almost 2 years now regular demonstrations have taken place outside various branches of the firm in the main cities in Austria. Of course, those arrested are among some of the most active in the campaign.

Solidarity with those arrested in Austria!

Abolish the fur trade!

Indymedia Austria: http://at.indymedia.org
10 arrests, 18 house searches,

This morning (Wednesday 21 June, 2008), around 6 am in Austria, Europe police broke into homes
and offices of activists through the whole country. Ten people were arrested and eighteen homes/offices were searched. Police have seized all mobile phones, computers and documents, making
campaign work for the immediate future impossible.

This is the largest raid against AR people that Austria has seen to date. The search and arrest warrants are for animal rights activities dating back as far as 1997.

Legal representation was quickly organized for all ten people arrested and solidarity demos are taking place outside the police station where they are being held. It is unclear at present whether they will be released after questioning or held on remand.

My Signature:
Rousseau: Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

http://www.vgt.at 
http://www.lafranceenaction.com
http://animalamnistie.free.fr/
http://asso.burdivega.free.fr/
http://www.international-campaigns.org
http://www.arkangelweb.org/
http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr (Animal Friends, Croatia)

GO VEGAN - YOU COW SUCKING PERVERTS!


May 20, 2008

This morning, around 6 am in Austria, Europe police broke into homes and offices of activists through the whole country. Ten people were arrested and eighteen homes/offices were searched. Police have seized all mobile phones, computers and documents, making campaign work for the immediate future impossible.

This is the largest raid against AR people that Austria has seen to date. The search and arrest warrants are for animal rights activities dating back as far as 1997.

Legal representation was quickly organised for all ten people arrested and solidarity demos are taking place outside the police station where they are being held. It is unclear at present whether they will be released after questioning or held on remand.

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