Animal Activists hold Funeral for Austrian Constitution

Vienna, 18 June, 2009

Posted by: Freedom_for_Austrian_Activists@yahoogroups.com

 

German / English version (+ photos) can be seen under:

German link: http://www.vgt.at/presse/news/2009/news20090618m.php

English link: http://www.vgt.at/presse/news/2009/news20090618m_1.php

You Tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69KsPRseYNw 

In the threat to NGO work from anti-Mafia law §278a, those attending the funeral see an end to freedom of speech and right to assemble which are both protected by the constitution.

Today 50 people appealed for the Austrian judicial system to exercise reason and drop the case which charges animal advocates with §278a. Should normal animal advocacy be made criminal and the NGO scene made into one big criminal organization then the corrective role that the wide spectrum of NGOs and citizen's initiatives has, which is necessary for a functioning democracy and which is protected by the constitution, would be paralyzed. This would mean an end for the central pillar of the constitution which has existed since 1867.

For this reason animal activists held a formal burial in front of the Palace of Justice in Vienna. A somber funeral procession followed a coffin draped with the Austrian flag complete with the emblem of the federal eagle and inscribed with Austrian Federal Constitution in a funeral march. In a moving speech about the history of the Austrian constitution, the hard fight for its accomplishment from the years of Metternich's police state and the citizens' revolution of 1848 to the issuing of the Basic law on the general rights of citizens December decree in 1867 was recounted. In the years between the two world wars the Austrian population proved itself not yet mature enough for a democracy and fundamental rights. It was only after the end of the Third Reich that the importance of fundamental rights was acknowledged and the constitution was changed to include the Declaration of Human Rights.

But now this accomplishment will once again be slowly eroded away. No sooner has the animal advocacy movement managed, through using freedom of speech and right to assemble to raise awareness in the population to such an extent that is has been possible for example, to achieve a ban on battery cages against the will of the industry, than fundamental rights are being curtailed. Should the Ministry of Justice actually decide to allow the §278a case to go to court, then the epitaph, written by campaigners on the constitution's headstone will hold true:

"In memory of the Federal Constitution of Austria 1867 - 2009, R.I.P"

Those attending the funeral scattered earth and laid flowers on the coffin to conclude the funeral ceremony.