“Eco-Terrorists” Respond to Roundup of Lawful Activists by Freeing Animals

by Will Potter on July 25, 2008

in Activism & Activists' Response,Terrorism Court Cases

Martin Balluch, one of the Austrian arrestees. Photo from www.vgt.at.On May 21st in Austria, the government carried out an unprecedented round-up of the country’s most prominent, above-ground, lawful animal advocates. Some of them have been on hunger strike in protest. The Guardian reports that “shelter workers, animal welfare teachers and public campaign organizers” are held “under suspicion of membership in ‘a criminal organisation.'”

Well, a judge in Austria recently ruled to keep them behind bars because they pose a “security risk.” An example of this security risk cited by the court is that Martin Balluch (who writes about his hunger strike here), was asked if he would remain chairman of the Association Against Animal Factories if he were released, and he said yes.

In Austria, as in the United States, this has all been done in the name of fighting “terrorism” and disrupting “terrorist organizations” like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. But just like in Sara Whitehead’s case, the Austrian roundup has only added fuel to the fire of underground activists.

Bite Back Magazine reports this translation of an anonymous communiqué from Germany: “But we released at least 2000 mink! We gave them a chance to escape. A chance is better because in a few months they will be killed by the farmer. These animals deserve freedom! This action is dedicated to the imprisoned Austrian animal activists!”

So this “War on Terror” ain’t workin’. But I argue that it isn’t MEANT to work. It’s not meant to stop illegal activity, because in many ways, illegal activity isn’t the true threat. The true threat is that the beliefs of these individuals–that animals and the environment deserve the same consideration as human interests–are gaining massive ground. Austria is one of the most progressive countries in the world in terms of protecting animals. And many of the activists that were rounded up were working on a constitutional amendment on animal welfare.

Martin Balluch, who has a double PhD in physics and philosophy and is a former colleague of Stephen Hawking, said it quite well in this ominous interview prior to his arrest:

“The moment the politicians can portray you as terrorists and are believed, they have won this battle, no matter what.”

Previous post:

Next post: