Dorit wrote: Hello Everyone, After you have read this, I trust that you will join me in giving Chris’ release a priority in your daily lives. As long as he and the other 9 vegan activists remain imprisoned, so are we all. Please act by sending a copy of this letter along with the information about this entire episode to all your local and national news agencies,vegan, vegetarian and non vegetarian magazines, print media and attorneys, human rights groups, etc. Please act and do something ..nothing is too small. And please do take the time to read Chris’ letter below. For the details of what lead up to Chris writing this letter please click on the link below,plus I have added a posting from Vanessa in the UK who touches on some of the details. Thanks, Dorit
If you go to www.vgt.at you will see pictures of the Dresden demo, including former German film idol and current Green party MP Barbara Ruetting speaking through the megaphone. Unfortunately the most recent stuff has not yet been translated (presumably because the hard working soul who does all the translating has only just got home from Dresden) but if you click on the flag top left you get the earlier part of the story in English.
For speed, I will attach text of the article appearing in this month’s issue of The Vegan in the UK. The EVU made a strong statement to the Austrian Government many weeks ago (see their website for text) and the IVU general meeting passed a unanimous resolution of support which will be very helpful in embarrassing the authorities still further since the views of a 100-year-old NGO cannot be easily dismissed.
No doubt other members of the list will be able to add to this. There is also a petition that can be signed by individuals and societies, and many have already done so. Many people at the congress also wrote cards and letters and donated money and/or merchandise. In short, everyone did everything they could to show their support and solidarity.
The prisoners have all been interned again till at least September - still no evidence, still no charges – so if anyone feels like sending a postcard it will be very much appreciated. Details of how to do so on the various websites.
DARK DAYS IN AUSTRIA
Imagine having a gang of masked men break your door down, leap on your bed and threaten to shoot you and your dog! It may sound like a third rate gangster movie, and certainly more like 1938 than 2008, but this is what happened in Austria in the early hours of Friday 21st May. Six weeks later, despite protests from Amnesty International, MPs in Austria and elsewhere, and demonstrations outside Austrian embassies around the world, ten people remain in prison without charge – among them Felix Hnat, Chair of the Austrian Vegan Society, and Dr Martin Balluch, Chair of the Verein Gegen Tierfabrik, the Austrian equivalent of Compassion in World Farming. The wrecking of offices and removal of equipment and records has further hampered the work of both organisations. Martin is being artificially fed, having been on hunger strike since his arrest.
“It couldn’t happen here” used to be a common reaction in the UK, bastion of human rights and habeas corpus whereby no one could be imprisoned for more than 24 hours without charge. But those rights have long since been eroded and even 42 days incarceration is no longer seen as an unthinkable violation of human rights. It could and even does happen here. Ostensibly designed to deal with international terrorism, draconian legislation is all too often used to intimidate ordinary people whose activities are an embarrassment to the powers that be – and this is just what has happened in Austria. Thanks to the hard work of people like Felix and Martin, Austria’s animal welfare laws have improved enormously in recent years – to the great chagrin of hunters, factory farmers, zoo owners and the meat industry. Like CIWF, the VGT also follows live animal transporters trundling their wretched cargoes across Europe, and flags up breaches of already far too lenient regulations. This, too, has made them some powerful enemies.
Once the rule of law has been set aside and internment without trial becomes acceptable, unsubstantiated suspicions are sufficient to deprive people of their liberty and organisations of their ability to function. Whether any charges will ever be brought against the ten internees remains to be seen – insinuations of arson at a hunting cabin collapsed when the hunters admitted causing the fire themselves – but there is no way the authorities can silence whole organisations, particularly in these days of instant communication by Internet. For news and pictures of protests around the world, statements from the Vegan Society and CIWF and an indictment of the Austrian Government by Amnesty International, see www.vgt.at, updated daily in German and English.
- On Tue, 8/12/08, Patricia Tricker wrote:
In view of some of the messages about the Austrian situation I’m forwarding a message I received yesterday from Paula, the wonderful English lady who lives in Vienna and is coordinating the efforts to get justice for the Austrian 10, with apologies to those of you to whom I’ve already sent it personally. Please keep checking for updates and writing to the prisoners. I know from the replies I’ve had how much our support means to them. Details in English are on http://www.vgt. at/actionalert/ repression/ gefangene/ index_en. php and if you click on the flag at the top the language changes to German. Best wishes, Patricia
Patricia Tricker, Vegan Society Trustee & National Contacts’ Coordinator Cottage 3, Arrathorne, Bedale, DL8 1NA, UK e-mail: vegan@phonecoop. coop
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.” The Dalai Lama
Some Thoughts from our Prisoners: Night time in the cell Many prisoners take sleeping tablets to get to sleep. At 10 pm the hole in the steel cell door opens and a guard pushes the tablets in. You have to swallow the tablets in front of the guard’s eyes, so that you cannot save them up in order to use them all at once to sleep for ever. Suicide is ever present here. I don’t take any sleeping tablets. At 10 pm I am tired and fall asleep straight away. But not without fear, as I know what awaits me; without fail my mind uses the first few hours’ sleep to remove itself from the cell. I am free and this imprisonment, the barred window and the never-changing wall by my bed – all this is just a dream. Then there is the rude awakening. Every night, without fail, I wake up at around 3 am, every time I feel relief that the endless imprisonment, the months of staring at a wall was only a dream. But it’s the other way round. Every time I open my eyes at 3 am and they slowly make sense of their surroundings I gradually realise that I am still here, really here. And that’s when the full horror hits me. My mouth goes dry and my heart plummets. Now sleep is unthinkable, I get up and lay my face against the thick mesh bars and stare out at the prison yard. The walls are lit on all sides by floodlights. They make everything glare in a harsh white light that reaches into the cell as well. Between the floodlights there are cameras and watchtowers. Everything here is morbid and inhumane. The tears trickle down my cheeks quietly and softly like the summer rain that I have not been allowed to feel for months. At least I am permitted the solitude to be able to cry alone, here in this cell full of prisoners. Once again I feel the abyss so strongly, death so near, and no will to live. In these terrible walls there is no life. I walk quietly up and down the cell, three steps to the wall and back again. I try to shake off all my thoughts and hope to find some security in the monotonous pacing, just like any desperate caged animal. I lie on the bed and stare up at the ceiling above me, as I have for the last months. The floodlights throw the ever-same shadow from the barred window onto the wall. The eternal life-threatening motionlessness. Will I ever be released from here? Once again, a thought that I must not allow. The hours tick by. There is no horizon for me to look out at, only high walls. Slowly the sky changes. At 5.30 the sun appears behind the bars on my window, through the barbed wire on the high walls. I dread the morning, I dread every day in this s…t hole at the end of the world. I can look through my barred prison window onto the prison yard below. The bars are not like normal window bars. They are thick and meshed. It is just about possible to push an orange pip through the holes. As a result it is pretty dark and grim in my cell. I am separated from all outside life and I’m not talking about freedom, which is out there somewhere beyond the barbed-wire- topped walls. I cannot see anything of freedom: no free people, no cars, no houses, only the never-changing stone walls, which have been my world for months now. I think of Rosa Luxenburg and her reports from inside her cell. Pigeons: the only free creatures that I have any contact with. Right now they are sitting on top of my window and cooing. The bars on the windows are so thickly meshed apparently because the inmates here form friendships with the pigeons and feed them. Through this thick steel mesh there’s no chance of that. The last possibility of contact with the outside, closed off. The sun comes up, stretches over the sky and goes down. What time is it? It doesn’t matter. Nothing seems to matter to me. Just months of staring at the same unstructured wall, the total desperation at being separated from those dearest to you. I didn’t want to turn around again as the officer brought me to the car, but I heard a knocking from the bedroom window and turned once more. I saw Noah looking out of the window and waving at me. I sadly waved back and tried to push back the tears. The officer also waved at Noah. I cannot begin to describe how infuriated and hurt I am by this hypocritical gesture. This was the last day that I could hold and kiss the family that I so love. Over the last two months we have seen one another only every two weeks, separated by thick glass, without any contact, no hugs, no kisses. It makes me crazy thinking about it. Two months ago nobody thought that this imprisonment could go on so long. How long do I have to be separated from my family? How long must my children have their father locked up, my wife her husband locked up? How do I know if the same unfounded accusations that apparently justify this remand custody won’t also be used to justify a verdict against me? The fear of losing my family is making me ill! Do the Public Prosecution and the judges have any idea of the consequences of their actions? Do they know what they are possibly destroying? My children need their father, my wife needs her partner. I need my family, I am terrified! Please don’t forget me. Today, the second full month of imprisonment, I looked at the pictures of Karin and my children that I have been sent, photos of the kids, of my home, when our life was still a life, photos of my amazing wife, whom I love so unbelievably much, photos of my family at solidarity events wearing t-shirts with “Free Chris”. Looking at these pictures makes me weep. I cannot cope any more: desperation and fear are eating me alive. The photos of my family at the solidarity event show me what a extremely strong person Karin is, alone with three children in this situation. My children are also strong. How long can they keep strong in this attack? Our family, our life is being destroyed: how long can we survive? Nobody could protect my family from this state attack. Nobody knows how long I will remain in here. I am terrified of losing my family and my wife. Noah, Samuel, Talia and Karin, I love you all so much! Think of me! Don’t forget me! Stay strong and don’t give up! They have stolen nearly the whole summer from us. When will we be able to see one another again without thick glass between us, without officials listening to our every word? When can I hold you again, kiss you, be with you, always, at home, in our world? What is it like for people who carry the responsibility for tearing a family apart? Three children and a happy relationship in danger of being destroyed. How much longer? How much longer will thousands of tears have to fall daily on the pictures of my family? I love you so! Please stay strong! I am trying too! I miss you! .... two months without hugs and kisses. Please don’t forget me. I am thinking of you. I dream of you! Every day. I love you! I hope for the common sense of those responsible for this situation… hope, I don’t believe in their common sense any more! Stay strong, help one another! I love you!