Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Solidarity Demonstration for the Animal Activists in Austria
Solidarity demo for the animal activists in austria by the austrian consulate (DE BOULELAAN 7, bus 62 goes there, near busstop Europaboulevard, Station RAI, Amsterdam)
Touch one, touch all,
The trial against ten animal rights activist on charges of membership in a criminal organisation starts off
On March 2 2010, the show trial against ten Austrian animal rights activists, members of Basisgruppe Tierrechte (BAT) and other animal rights and animal welfare organisations, is bound to begin. In August of last year, the 200 pages long charging document was presented to the accused which mainly refers to §278a of the Austrian penal code aimed at crushing so called criminal and terrorist organisations. Over one hundred witnesses are summoned by the prosecution office alone. Among them are members of the board of directors of Peek & Cloppenburg, C&A and other alleged "victims" of the animal rights movement. The trial will last at least six month and cost each of the accused some ten thousand Euros in legal expenses, not included all other costs for maintaining a life without being able to work due to compulsory attendance in court!
The case in retrospective
On May 21 2008, all in all 23 flats and houses were raided all over Austria leading to the arrest of ten people. The reasoning behind the raids was provided by the charge of membership in a criminal organisation as defined in §278a, because the activists had used standardised PGP-encryption for their communication. Thus, danger of collusion was suggested by police. The activists spent 105 days isolated from each other in custody. On several occasions the courts declared the rightful usage of the preventive imprisonment and prolonged the term accordingly. Yet, the accusations, as they are listed in the charging document, substantially lack the naming of tangible offences.
The heart of the matter is recruitment and organising for animal rights groups, researching and documenting information about animal cruelty and its perpetrators, announcing and taking part in demonstrations and the dispersion of „Animal Liberation Front Ideology". The alleged proof for the latter is the organisation of lectures which touched the history of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Thus, public campaigning is equated with the illegal actions of the ALF and the contact to and the correspondence with British activists is seen as evidence for the existence of a conspiratorial network of European „animal rights terrorists".
Animal rights terrorists?
The alleged relationship between the involved parties remains, however, more than dubious and abstruse. Rather, the ghost of a globally active animal liberation movement is created. Thus, Europol, the shady European police force, seems to know, as can be read in their latest trend study on the development of terrorism, that Austrian animal rights activists were able to spin a network for activists across Europe and to maintain the relevant contacts. With reference to "English conditions", as becomes clear, all forms of protest shall be nipped in the bud. Thus, some of the activists furthermore face the charge of harassment and stalking which in Great Britain has become one of the major tools of the state to combat animal rights activism. Additionally, each one of the activists is accused of fulfilling a special duty. This is relevant in terms of providing evidence for the so called criminal organisation.
The fact that some of the named groups don't cooperate and, at least partially, don't even know each other personally and agitate for totally different political ends, is thus simply ignored. The construction of the so called criminal organisation is kept up by the authorities against their better knowledge!
As further evidence for the durability of the alleged organisation, reference is made to animal liberation activities in Austria some of which took place more than ten years ago. For these activities the accused are also made responsible. They are even blamed for almost every activity which has taken place in Austria (and beyond) in the name of animal rights!
The charge of membership in a criminal organisation provides the authorities with considerable liberties in using methods of observation and infiltration.
Thus a 'Großer Lauschangriff' ( a far reaching bugging operation) was ratified by the courts. This means that the homes of the accused were observed around the clock using audio technology, the staircases leading to their flats were equipped with video cameras, microphones were installed in their flats and tracking devices in their cars. Furthermore, all telephones, landline as well as mobile, were surveyed constantly. The authorities forced the providers to hand them over all information on calls dating back up to six months. Even mobiles provided by the accused's employers were thus observed. Furthermore, linguistic profiles for the identification of the written claims of responsibility were commissioned. Speech and DNA samples as well as fingerprints were secretly taken; even the garbage was turned over. Also, the accused's accounts were scanned. Beyond the circle of the people accused, many other persons were observed for months by the Special Force for Observation (Sondereinheit für Observation (SEO)) which is directly connected to the Department of the Interior. The authorities also made a request for the installation of Trojans on the accused's computers. There is also proof of the infiltration of informants.
This is nothing short of the total observation of a politically detested movement which the authorities want to do away with by the means of massive repression!
Again, concrete evidence for the accused's involvement in the criminal activities is not provided and not needed. Within the framework of § 278a of the Austrian penal code, the imputation of strict proof for criminal offences committed by the individual members of any one group accused of being a criminal organisation is unnecessary. The accusation of being a member of the incriminated group is enough to press for charges. The criminal offences are then said to be committed by 'unknown accomplices'.
They're aiming at all of us!
It is obvious that this case serves as a precedence to crush uncomfortable political groups. The §278a is thereby used to criminalise left wing and progressive social movements. This way the case under discussion reaches a dimension which goes beyond the 'mere' activities of the animal rights movement. It is this movement, however, which is to take the rap for state repression against social movements generally. It seems very likely that the § 278 will be used against antifascists, anti-globalisation and eco-activists in the future. As the Austrian case shows, the raids are not the crescendo of observation, inquiry and investigation by the authorities, but the beginning.
It is now up to us all to show practical solidarity! As the activists are facing horrendous expenses, the organisation of benefit events, parties and concerts is of utmost importance. The financial support is thus a priority. The following donation account has been set up to channel the money for the accused's benefit.
Rote Hilfe e.V.
Account no.: 191100462
Bank code: 44010046, Postbank Dortmund
Keyword: „§278a" (it is important that you add the keyword!)
IBAN (international bank account number): DE 75 4401 0046 191 100 462
BIC (bank identifier code): PBNKDEFF
Don't let the authorities get through with this!
For further information see www.antirep278a.blogsport.de