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.
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
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
if you click on the flag at the top the language changes to German.
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
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
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
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,
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
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!
- bump *