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In the early hours of May 21st, special forces of the Austrian police, many armed in black clothing and wearing masks, forced entry to 23 homes and offices of animal rights campaigners across Austria. Fourteen people were arrested, most at gunpoint.
Ten people are being held in pre-trial detention, which could last for months, accused of “forming a criminal organization.” Seven, including President of the Austrian Association Against Animal Factories Professor Martin Balluch, are on a hunger strike and becoming very weak. Visit www.vgt.at for more information.
In unity with groups around the world, FARM took action in Washington, D.C. for a day of solidarity with the detained animal liberation activists. Events also took place in Berlin, Bern, Boston, Hamburg, Helsinki, Leipzig, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Stockholm.
FARM staff and volunteers protested in front of the Austrian Embassy, demanding that the Austrian authorities immediately release the hostages or present valid charges. They communicated their demands with large signs and chants, stating “Stop Austrian Repression,” “Activism is NOT a crime,” “Protect Free Speech,” “Stop Silencing Activists,” “Free our activists – let them go" and "You can put our friends in jail animal rights will never fail!" They also carried large photo prints of Dr. Martin Balluch, with the message "14 Days On Hunger Strike."
After an hour and a half of conveying this urgent message, FARM assured the Austrian Embassy that if the demands are not met, they will soon be back!
How can you help?
Contact the Austrian officials to demand freedom and justice for the prisoners. See contact info below:
Austrian Embassy, Washington, D.C. — Consular Section
3524 International Court, NW
Washington, D.C., 20008
Ambassador Eva Nowotny
phone: 202-895-6700, (listen to German message for 20 sec, press 1, then 7 to reach the Ambassador's office
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (assistant)
Dr. Brigitta Blaha, Consul General
Austrian Consulate General, New York
31 East 69th Street, NY, NY 10021
Tel. (212) 737-6400
Fax: (212) 772-8926
Tel: Consul General: (212) 933-5147
Tel: Legal Issues: (212) 933-5142
Austrian Consulate General, Los Angeles
11859 Wilhsire Blvd., Suite 501
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel. (310) 444-9310, 473-4721
Fax (310) 477-9897
Austrian Consulate General, Chicago
400 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel. (312) 222-1515
Fax: (312) 222-4113
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