Verein Gegen Tierfabriken Freedom For The 10 Activists

Association against Animal Factories (Verein gegen Tierfabriken)

The Association against Animal Facories is an organization dedicated to reduce exploitation or abuse of animals and stop them in the long run. VGT is an independent association and belongs to no political party.

The basic idea of VGT is to establish animal rights. 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.

VGT follows the vision of a fair, ecological and ethical responsible living together of all beings in the world. The association uses modern and efficient instruments of political activism as well as sedulous convincing and awareness training to settle association philosophy in our society. VGT operates under a strict non-violence policy.
Main aims of the association are:

* 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:
o no more farrowing crates for pigs
o pigs and cattle are not to be kept on slatted floors without sprinkled in straw
o ban of painful medical procedure (castration, dehorning…) on animals without anaesthesia and without aftercare in case the animals suffer from after effects
o ban of mutilation (debeaking, tail docking, teeth grinding, mulesing) which shall adapt the animals to factory farming
* abolition of hunting, especially:
o ban of abandonning captive-bred animals for hunt
o ban of canned hunt (where animals are hunted in an enclosure that usually leaves no escape for them)
o 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:
o a complete reform of the animal experimentation act, especially:
+ ban of experiments on primates
+ ban of animal experiments in veterinary training
+ animal testings are the responsibility of the animal welfare ombudsmen or ombudswomen
+ 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 continous but announced control checks and guarantees scientific and ethic evaluation.
* Keeping up public sociopolitical discussion on a wide range of aspects about the relationship between humans and animals and animal rights
* promoting vegetarian and vegan lifestyle/nutrition

We also inform about:

* the disastrous consequences of agro industry on basic life fundaments soil, water and air (waste of resources, environmental protection)
* exploitation of developing and least developed countries (export refund, compensation, farm animal food) correlating with agro industries
* health risks connected with consumption of animal derived products


Non-governmental organisations express concern about what may be a case of state repression of social activism.

On 21st May 2008 at 6 a.m., heavily armed police officers from an elite unit stormed 21 homes and the offices of a number of non-governmental organisations in Austria. Breaking their way in, the masked police surrounded frightened civilians in their beds at gun point. Ten people were arrested and have been held in custody without specific charge since that day. Despite the statement by the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior that "The measures taken by the police (.) were in no way directed against animal welfare or animal welfare organisations", the removal of computers, documents and other assets has effectively crippled some of the organisations involved.

Those asking the media to look at this case draw attention to the fact that Amnesty International (1) and the Austrian Green Party have reacted strongly, questioning police methods and the treatment of detainees, particularly the absence of actionable evidence justifying "strong suspicion" (dringender Tatverdacht) or the "reason (or grounds)" (Haftgrund) for the arrests. Detainee accounts of what has happened are alarming: see, for example, this appeal sent out by Martin Balluch on June 9 (2).

In recent years, milestone reforms in animal law have been achieved in Austria including bans on fur farms, battery cages for hens and the use of wild animals in circuses.

Should those who have achieved advances that are an example to the rest of the world be blamed for all the unsolved cases of damage to property in Austria over the last eleven years?

"All citizens have the right to actively stand up for or demonstrate against something. It is particularly important to stand up for animal rights because animals cannot stand up for themselves. People must do it for them. Animals, like all the defenceless, rely on this protection." (Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize for literature 2004) (3)

Should organisations acting for animals that have always operated peacefully and within the law have their functioning hampered by the seizure of their material?

The undersigned express deep concern at what appears to be an attempt to criminalise the animal advocacy movement and to stifle the political freedom of those involved in it.

(1) Amnesty International statement

(2) Appeal Martin Balluch

(3) Elfriede Jelinek〈=en

Information in German and English is available on the website of the Association Against Animal Factories (Verein Gegen Tierfabriken):

I wanted you to see the letter I have mailed in support of the ten
arrested on false charges in Vienna. I have sent this letter to the
ten at their e-mail address and to Chancellor Gusenbauer, President
Heinz Fischer, and Ministers Platter and Berger. Because I know the
great respect the Austrian people have towards musicians, I thought
it might help to have a letter from an American musician who had
studied in Austria in support of those falsely accused. Please feel
free to use this letter as it may help in this cause. If you can get
it to people at the Austrian Socialist Party and the Green Party who
are questioning this outrage, please do. Feel free to contact me at
any time. Wishing for your success in this struggle, I am.

David Irving
Sidney, New York


June 28, 2008

An Open Letter from an American Citizen
To the Citizens of Vienna and the
Austrian Government

Freedom means constant vigilance!

I lived in Germany from December of 1953 to June of 1955 as a United
States soldier. I was a member of the famous 7th Army Symphony which
traveled all over Germany and Europe, including Austria, giving
concerts to improve American/German and American/European relations.
At that time, less than ten years after World War II, the specter of
Nazi Germany still haunted Germany in the bombed out ruins that were
to be found in every major city. The question to be answered then,
and sadly, apparently now in Vienna, was whether the spirit of Nazism
was dead or alive and to what extent Adolf Hitler still lived in the
hearts and minds of the German speaking people.

From 1957 to 1959 I studied horn at the Vienna Academy für Musik und
Darstellende Kunst with the renowned horn virtuoso Gottfried von
Freiberg. I played concerts at the Musikverein, attended the
Stadtsoper, visited the Kunsthistorisches and Albertina museums, and
enjoyed the Gemütlichkeit of the coffee houses. During this period I
became a member of the Graz Opera and Graz Philharmonic Orchestra and
lived in Graz for several months.

The question about Nazism was partially answered for me in a Gasthaus
in Vienna one evening when the owner of the establishment and her
head waiter joined an American friend, a singer, and me at our
table. After a minute or so she said "You know, it was not at all
like they say happened in Germany with the Jews. They just
needed "eine kleine Patsche" [a little pat], that's all." My German
at the time was not quite good enough to understand her words, but my
friend did.

"Yes," he said. "I saw your kleine Patsche in Dachau!"

That was the end of that conversation and of our visits to that
establishment. In Graz I heard expressions of sympathy for the Third
Reich at the cellar Gasthaus where I often went to eat or to relax.
On one occasion a man stood up, raised his arm in the Nazi salute and
yelled "Heil Hitler" to a complete stranger who was exiting up the
cellar stairs. The stranger turned and glared at the Nazi, and for a
few moments the entire Gasthaus went silent until the stranger
finally continued up the stairs, breaking the tension.

At almost the same time the United States was having its own problems
with fascistic types in the deep South in Little Rock, Arkansas where
African Americans fought bravely to break free from their racist
oppressors. In one way the situation paralleled what I had been
witnessing in Austria. The only way the world was ever going to rid
itself of these Southern racists and Nazi fascists, it seemed, was to
defeat them and then let them die out. But was that enough?

Back in the United States I continued my career as a free lance
professional hornist in Boston. In San Francisco I became a member
of the Oakland Symphony. Later I studied music composition at
Columbia University where I graduated with high honors and earned a
Master's Degree in Music Composition. I rejoiced when I read news
reports of how Austria was cracking down on neo-Nazis and passing
laws making it a crime to deny the Holocaust. But I was dismayed to
see Jörg Haider, who sympathized with National Socialism ideals, gain
a foothold in Austrian politics in the 1990s.

I returned to Vienna in the summer of 2001 for a nostalgic visit 42
years after I had last been there. I also visited Graz where I
attended the Opera, met the horn players, and visited old haunts.
One evening as I sat at my Pension bar having something to eat, an
intoxicated man also sat there mumbling over and over, "Wenn der
Hitler nur noch da war. Wenn der Hitler nur noch da war." [If only
Hitler were still here.] It was pitiful to observe this old Nazi
dying out, isolated and alone, but I was gratified to see that
everyone ignored his rant and refused to give him the solace he

We must all be ever vigilant to protect our hard won freedoms from
tyranny, whether the tyranny consists of slavery and racism or the
tyranny of fascism. As a former resident of Austria who lived and
breathed first-hand the Austrian culture of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven,
Schubert, Brahms, Johann and Richard Strauss, Klimt, Kokoschka,
Freud, Rilke, Trakl and much, much more during my stay there, it is
alarming now to read reports that the Austrian police and Austrian
prosecutors and Judges are resorting to the same totalitarian methods
Nazi fascists used in achieving their aims during the Nazi era. I
refer specifically to the ten animal welfare workers, including the
director of the organization known as Four Paws, who have been
imprisoned without charges since May 21 of this year in Vienna. One
of the ten is now in his fourth week of a hunger strike to protest
the groups incarceration and to bring their case before the world.
He is in possible danger of dying. It seems that once again the
question of just how dead or alive Nazism is in Austria must be asked
of this great land which has bequeathed to the world some of its
greatest cultural achievements.

According to reports, these ten people were awakened at 6 a.m. on May
21st by heavily armed masked police with drawn pistols and were
intimidated, humiliated, and arrested without ever being informed of
their supposed crimes. Some of them were not allowed to see a
lawyer, and some were not permitted to see friends or family for
several days. Computers, mobile phones, videos and books were
confiscated without cause on the off chance they might produce some
kind of evidence against the ten. The defense lawyers could not get
the State Prosecutor to reveal the charges against their clients
which they learned only at their first hearing. The Judge would not
permit the accused to speak and remanded them back to prison without
allowing them to present a proper case for their release.
Apparently, these ten people are being charged with every crime of
any kind related to animal rights for the past eleven years though
not one connection to these crimes can be shown. Most disturbing is
that the State Prosecutor is using an anti-terrorist law against
legitimate, non-criminal campaigning, claiming that the accused have
formed a "company" for the purpose of committing terrorist acts.
This is a vague, blanket kind of charge that the Austrian government
can throw at anyone without having to prove anything.

The question is, why have the Austrian Police and the State
Prosecutor done this? According to the ten, it is retaliation and an
attempt to shut them down because they were successful in their
campaigns to ban fur farms, wild animal circuses, battery cages and
vivisection on apes, and rabbit-cage farming. The ten say business
forces adversely affected by the success of their animal rights
campaigns are behind the frame-up and that the police and government
have joined sides with these businesses, becoming their enforcement
agent. The accused claim the Minister of the Interior slandered them
by calling them a violent group with no proof, which he was forced to
acknowledge, while the State Prosecutor released a false statement
that the ten are suspected of committing arson and gas attacks for
which not one scintilla of evidence exists.

This case reeks with the scent of fascism and demands an independent
investigation to determine whether the charges brought by the State
Prosecutor are true or false. If they are false, the ones who are
responsible deserve to be prosecuted themselves, including the State
Prosecutor and the Minister of the Interior, while the business
interests that precipitated this crisis need to be exposed and
prosecuted as well.

The word is out that Amnesty International, the Austrian Socialist
Party, and the Austrian Green Party are all questioning these
proceedings. I urge the Austrian people and responsible parties in
the Austrian government to step in and demand that the State
Prosecutor and the Minister of the Interior account for their
charges. Only in this way can an extreme miscarriage of justice be
prevented while letting those who would resort to fascistic methods
know in the starkest terms possible that such methods will not be
tolerated in the free country of Austria where fascism and a police
state are "verboten," and where " kleine Patschen" are regarded with
utter contempt.

Yours truly,

David Irving


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Orgs (Australia, Germany, Russia, Poland, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republik, Irleand, Latvia, Malta, Argentina, UK):

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