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"Terrorist Activity" in Austria

In: People

Submitted By fanste
Words 1352
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People's Friendship University of Russia
Department of International Relations
Student: Stefan Unertl
Student-ID: 1032115182

Research paper

„Terrorist activity“ in Austria
The Association Against Animal Factories (VgT – Verein gegen Tierfabriken) and its struggle for animal rights

by Stefan Unertl

Moscow, December 2011

Table of content

1. Introduction
2. The Association Against Animal Factories (AAAF) and its activities in Austria and
2.1.

The AAAF against Kleiderbauer

3. The trial
4. Outcome/Conclusion

1. Introduction
The Association Against Animal Factories is a non-governmental organization which is active not only in Austria but also in Switzerland and has good connections to the worldwide animal rights association, PeTa.
Its main goal is to improve animal rights in Austria. Their work is dedicated to the reduction of exploitation or abuse of animals.
Due to their ongoing activities, the association has to face many difficulties in Austria.
Not only that their actions of protest are supervised by the police but also that every organization, like an NGO, can be convicted as a “criminal organization” based upon the paragraph 278a in the Austrian criminal code when this organization is supposed to commit frequently acts of violence or has a structure resembling it to a criminal organization (Mafia, etc.).
Due to this vague article it had been criticized by many people not only in politics but also in the population. The first time this article gained unintentionally popularity when it first was used to trail against the AAAF accused of forming a criminal organization.
In this short research paper I want to present the AAAF's activities mostly in Austria and the incident which led to the trail which fortunately ended in favour for the accused. At the end I want to express my own point of view on this topic.
2. The Association Against Animal Factories (AAAF) and its activities in Austria
The AAAF was founded in 1992 and has approximately 18,000 members in Austria. It has around the country seven agencies working together locally and nationally, planning demonstrations and other forms of protest against bad living conditions of animals:
“ There is no ethical acceptable reason to limit the apportionment of basic rights to members of human species only. The ability to suffer is the defining criterion for affiliation to a community which guarantees base rights for all creatures. These base rights are to be protected against all human violations to other species, may they be cultural, historical or religious motivated violations.“

Additionally they work on these following goals:


fight against the cruel habit of animal farming



animal protection shall be included in the Austrian federal constitution



abolition of export refund for live animal transportation



pushing trough the already passed prohibition of battery farming



stop battery egg trade



achieve ban of songbird trapping



stop import of fur (especially cat and dog fur) to Austria



ban fur production from the European Union



improvement of living conditions of farm animals, especially:
◦ no more farrowing crates for pigs
◦ pigs and cattle are not to be kept on slatted floors without sprinkled in straw
◦ ban of painful medical procedure (castration, de-horning...) on animals without anaesthesia and without after-care in case the animals suffer from after effects
◦ ban of mutilation (debeaking, tail docking, teeth grinding, mulesing) which shall adapt the animals to factory farming



abolition of hunting, especially:
◦ ban of abandonning captive-bred animals for hunt
◦ ban of canned hunt (where animals are hunted in an enclosure that usually leaves no escape for them)
◦ baiting animals (like foxes, badgers or beavers) by using other animals is meant to be forbidden for hunters or rangers



abolition of animal experimentation, in a first step:
◦ a complete reform of the animal experimentation act, especially:
▪ ban of experiments on primates
▪ ban of animal experiments in veterinary training
▪ the description of animal experiments means any experiment on any kind of animal (including invertebrates). Animal experiments means also testings on killed or terminal narcotised animals
▪ introducing an independent animal experiments inspectorate for all kind of animal tests. The inspectorate does continuous but announced control checks and guarantees scientific and ethic evaluation.



Keeping up public socio-political discussion on a wide range of aspects about the relationship between humans and animals and animal rights



promoting vegetarian and vegan lifestyle/nutrition
2.1 The AAAF against “Kleider Bauer”

The AAAF started different actions against the company “Kleider Bauer” because of its policy of selling fur products in their stores around the country. After several protest activities in front of the stores, the head of the company accused the protesters to be
“bad for business” and to ask for support at the Viennese local police.
Several weeks later, the first property damage had been recorded at one of the “Kleider
Bauer” - stores. One of the shop windows had been destroyed and “Wearing Fur Is
Murder” had been written on the main entrance.
In the night from the 3 rd to the 4th of April 2007 tires of the head's car had been cut open and the car had been whelmed with paint. After this incident Peter Graf (head of Kleider
Bauer) reported it to the Interior Ministry to establish a task force investigating the participants of the anti-fur-campaign. Although several documents of the police had shown that there was no evidence at all, the investigation had been intensified.
The task force had been established by several officers of the Federal Bureau for the
Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Bureau of Fighting Against Terrorism. Their task was now to observe the accused protesters in several ways: bugging operation, GPStracking, online-observation and undercover investigation.
In May 2008, during a nationwide raid, nine members of several animal rights groups, also the head of the AAAF Dr. Martin Balluch, were captured by the police and sent to investigative custody for 105 days. Additionally, the police infiltrated a hidden person to the AAAF who was supposed to be a long-time supporter of the movement.
3. The trial
In total thirteen people were accused of creating a criminal organization, property damage, civil disorder and many other accusations. The trial started in March, 2010 and ended in May, 2011.
One of the biggest accusations happened during the trial when a language expert – sent from the public prosecutor – was supposed to give an expert opinion of the head's

organization, Dr. Martin Balluch. The language expert was sure that Balluch wrote in one of his over 1000 articles a link to the crime and said that it was also a claim of responsibility. All these accusations were invalid.
During the trail the public prosecutor also accused the thirteen people of committing terrorist activities to threat the society, only to engage their political goals. All these accusations were based on the §278a of the criminal code of Austria. It is stated that every organization which shows means of even trying to commit a crime should be punished and named a criminal organization. In the worst scenario, they would have sent to jail for four years.
The trial was on the news' headlines for several weeks, not only in Austria but also abroad. Many people around
Austria in the sphere of politics, culture

and

civil

society fought against this trial. Their protest was mostly against §278a which could convict every

civil

organization to be a militant,

People protesting against §278a

criminal and terrorist organization.
At the end, all accused were found not guilty. It was finally a remarkable action of the judge who, what came out later, had to face a lot of pressure from the Interior and also from the Justice Ministry, all led by politicians of the Austrian People's Party
(conservative).
4. Outcome/Conclusion
Although all activists were found not guilty, the trail was a shocking example of asupposed-to-be-Western state with a dysfunctional juridical pillar.
The trail was the whole time politically motivated and had nothing to do with the committed crimes the people were accused of.
It is also remarkable that a head of a company had that much influence to the political sphere and was able to start the investigation by putting pressure on the police.

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