Saturday, July 5, 2008



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Naresh Kadyan,

Representative of OIPA in India,

C-38, Rose Apartment, Prashant Vihar,

ROHINI, DELHI - 110085

His Excellency The Ambassador of Austria

The Ambassador of Austria

New Delhi.

Object: Ten animal rights workers imprisoned since May 21, 2008

July 2nd, 2008

Dear Mr Ambassador,

I respectfully request your help concerning an event that will take place this week in your country: the next evaluation of the detention of the ten animal rights activists held on remand since May 21. As you know, on that day an independent judge will decide whether the activists must remain in custody without charge.

I understand that the Ministry of Justice is monitoring the development of this case as a matter of normal supervision. In the hope that the case will be closely reviewed at the approach of the hearing, I ask you to be so kind as to submit the following questions to Dr Maria Berger. I understand that all letters cannot be answered individually but I hope that through your good offices, an answer may be possible in this case.

1) It is everyone's hope, I am sure, that the detainees will be released this week unless formal charges are filed backed by evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Failing this, I would like to know if it would be possible to release the detainees provisionally pending further proceedings. (It is rumored that the police may not have time to examine all the computers confiscated for another six months! This is a distressing idea for many people, as you can imagine.) It seems reasonable to think that in this case the course of justice would not be hampered by the provisional release of these ten people.

2) In light of the fact that the Ministry of Justice affirms that Austrian law offers a comprehensive modern system of protection for imprisoned citizens, I draw its attention to the following features of the case, asking for Dr Berger's confirmation, correction or clarification:

a) There appears to have been a lack of specificity in the search warrants issued.

b) The manner in which the police acted when making its arrests was disproportionate to the circumstances (masked, gun-carrying men breaking through doors at dawn, etc.). Does the Minister agree that this police behavior was inappropriate?

c) Not all the detainees were allowed to contact lawyers before being interrogated by the police. (This has been confirmed in writing by Mr Gerhard Pichler of the Ministry of the Interior.)

d) The specificity of the charges against the detainees was apparently not communicated to them upon their arrest.

e) The detainees and their lawyers were not promptly informed of the evidence against them. Even today – over a month after their arrest - they say that though the prosecution is legally obliged to do so, it has still not disclosed the whole file and all evidence against them, which makes it very hard for their lawyers to defend them.

3) In Dr Berger's view, do any of the points mentioned above, if confirmed in the course of her supervision of the case; constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights or at least of Austrian law?

4) Regarding the suspicion that the ten detainees are members of a 'criminal organization'; does the Minister of Justice feel any skepticism over the validity or applicability to this case of Section 278a of the Austrian Criminal Code?

5) Given that people are to be assumed innocent until proved guilty and that no charges have been laid against our friends, would it be possible for the conditions of their detention to be improved? Is it normal for people on remand in Austrian prisons to be kept in a very small space with chain smokers, allowed only two showers per week, only one hour of exercise outside per day and only very brief and infrequent visits with their family and friends?

I reiterate my expression of hope that the detainees will be released this week unless evidence of their membership of a criminal organization is presented. I realize that it must be frustrating to the President of Austria and his ministers and embassies to receive thousands of letters from people who are not fully informed about the Austrian legal system. I can only say that I have done my very best to find out as much as I can about this case from all sides and to raise only questions that citizens concerned about human rights could reasonably raise.

Thank you very much for your advice in this matter.


Naresh Kadyan,


Representative for INDIA,
Mobile - +91-9813010595
- +91- 9313312099

In the early morning hours of 21 May 2008, a concerted country-wide police operation in Austria, raided and searched the homes of 23 animal protectionists. Ten people were remanded in custody. To date no concrete or substantive grounds have been announced for those arrests and remands in custody.

I strongly protest against this course of action. Both the police operation and the remand in custody of these people are completely disproportionate. For example, doors were rammed open without warning; masked police
officers stormed homes with drawn guns. This was followed by grievous verbal and physical harassment and humiliation.

As justification for the raids, the Public Prosecutor's Office cites § 278a Austrian Penal Code (The formation of a "criminal organisation"), a paragraph, which is otherwise used solely in relation to people smuggling rings and Mafia organisations. Proof of the existence of the alleged "criminal organisation" by the authorities is still outstanding. The Public Prosecutor's Office has also not made any clear statements about the concrete connections that the detainees supposedly have with this ominous organisation.

It cannot be accepted, that a state under the rule of law remands people in custody without convincing argument. It cannot be accepted that the police confiscate computers, mobile telephones, member lists and documents on the off chance. Four Animal Protection Associations have been robbed of their functional existence in this manner. These facts are
all serious violations of civil rights.

It appears that there is an attempt to criminalize the Austrian Animal Protection and Animal Rights movement. The police operation is causing lasting damage to the image of the Animal Protection movement. By depriving the NGOs of their infrastructure and lists of potential donors, they are deprived of all chances to continue to working for and representing their concerns.

Please take on this case and commit yourself to bringing transparency to this issue before Austria's international image is seriously damaged.

Unless the Public Prosecutor is able to bring immediate proof of the serious accusations that have been made, the detainees must be released without delay!

Representative of OIPA in INDIA Naresh Kadyan

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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 %u201CThe measures taken by the police were in no way directed against animal welfare or animal welfare organisations%u201D, 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 and the Austrian Green Party have reacted strongly, questioning police methods and the treatment of detainees, particularly the absence of actionable evidence justifying %u201Cstrong suspicion%u201D (dringender Tatverdacht) or the %u201Creason (or grounds)%u201D (Haftgrund) for the arrests. Detainee accounts of what has happened are alarming: see, for example, the appeal sent out by Martin Balluch on June 9.

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? %u201CAll 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.%u201D (Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize for literature 2004).

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.

Information in German and English is available on the website of the Association Against Animal Factories (Verein Gegen Tierfabriken): (1) (2 (3)

ENDORSED BY: 174 National & International NGOs and groups (list growing) see: from 32 countries, namely

Argentine Austria Australia Belgium Brazil Canada Croatia Czech Republic Finland France Germany Hong Kong India Ireland Israel Italy Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Serbia Slovenia South Africa Spain Sri Lanka Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom United States of America

Please see also the following petition and appeal sites:


We ask for the immediate release and believe that a fair trial will still be possible, if they are no longer kept locked up.

The reputation of Austria as a constitutional state could suffer now a serious blow, if the justice system would not take immediate action to redress the situation and release the detainees from remand.