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Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
October 2008

Interview with Released Austrian Animal Protection Activist

The great news is that on 2 Sep, all of the Austrian animal protection activists arrested in May, 2008 were finally released: www.austriasolidarity.com/index.php

Here is an interview, done just after their release, with one of the activists, Jürgen Faulmann, international campaigns director of the animal welfare organisation Four Paws: www.vierpfoten.org

How are you feeling today?

I'm still fairly tired. I am also constantly surprised by emotional outbursts, particularly as a reaction to media coverage of the release. It is good to know that so many people support us. In prison you try and suppress all the emotion so you make it through. Now I reckon it all has to come out.

Do you know why you were arrested?

As one of the most prominent and active members of the animal welfare movement I obviously provided a wonderful target for those who want to criminalize animal welfare using a law set up to protect against mafia-style organized crime.

Do you suspect political or economic motives behind the arrests?

Both, unfortunately. Some of the connections have already been uncovered by the media and some politicians. The proof is there: economic interests, predominantly a certain clothing chain, joined forces with members of the executive branch to damage the legal animal welfare movement - with the tacit support of some politicians.

What is your opinion of criminal acts within the animal welfare struggle?

I draw the line at civil disobedience. I do not believe in committing criminal acts.

Do you see yourself as a political prisoner?

It is unacceptable that in a democracy a part of civil society can be criminalized at the request of certain economic interests. It is now paramount that an investigation take place into how and why such an assault on civil liberties and legitimate public-interest organizations could take place.

Do you foresee being charged with anything?

It very much depends on the way the so-called anti-mafia paragraph is interpreted. If they choose to apply it according to its original purpose there will be no charges. If, however, they continue to abuse the letter of the law for their own ends then there is a risk I will be charged. If that happens, every charitable organization in Austria is in danger of being labelled criminal - along with all its supporters.

Will you be taking legal steps?

At the moment I am concentrating on finding a way back into normal life. There is a lot to deal with emotionally, which will take a lot of strength. My lawyers are examining the case, so I'm afraid I can't say much more at this stage.

What are your plans for the next few weeks?

I'm going to spend the weekend with my friends and family and try to make up for lost time. On Monday I shall go into the office and concentrate on catching up on work for a week, before it’s off to the Adriatic Sea for some sailing. My greatest wish at the moment is to take advantage of freedom. And it has been too long since I was able to pursue my real passion - hiking in the mountains and enjoying nature.