Ferkelspenden! vgt.at Verein gegen Tierfabriken Menü

Note: The contents in words and pictures of this article are based on the facts when it was first published (08.07.2013).

Vienna, 4th July 2013

"Is this Demonstration Coercion?"

This question was floated once again last Friday and Saturday by Tyrolean animal rights activists in Austria at their demonstration.

This question was floated once again last Friday and Saturday by Tyrolean animal rights activists in Austria at their demonstration.

From a distance the slogan on the banner - which by now has become part of the city landscape - at the 6 person demonstration in the Museumsstrasse is clear to read: "Für Kleider Bauer umgebracht, fühlende Wesen zu Pelzgemacht!" ("Killed for clothes store 'Kleider Bauer' - sentient beings made into fur coats"). Next to it a small info stand decorated with the words: "Animals are living beings, not products!"

The info stand displays countless flyers and magazines, ranging from topics like veganism, different aspects of animal exploitation, information on animal abuse, the problems involved with horse and carriage rides, cruelty-free cosmetics and, of course fur, - especially since the Kleider Bauer group intends once more to sell clothes with fur trims in the Autumn season. As a reaction to the current revoking of the infamous Austrian animal rights trial aquittal, repression of animal rights campaigning is also an issue focused on in this demonstration. To this end a second banner graces the small rally and asks from afar: "Is this demonstration coercion?". In addition, the activists distribute new flyers detailing the appeal of the trial's verdict and illustrating the close links between the Kleider Bauer group and the state repression against animal rights activists.

The HRC (Higher Regional Court), responsible for revoking the not guilty verdict of 13 animal rights activists in Austria's longest ever trial in the history of the 2nd Republic, bases its appeal on the claim that it is "contra bonos mores" (immoral or indecent) to ask a fashion retailer to opt out of the cruel fur trade and / or to inform the public about the trade as long as fur clothing is sold. Since October 2006 more than 100,000 individuals have signed a petition asking Kleider Bauer to do just this, i.e. to stop selling fur. Does this mean that, according to this appeal, more than 100,000 individuals have been involved in coercion? If so this would have dramatic consequences for every organisation that criticises companies for their corporate policy, be it for animal welfare, environmental or human rights issues. Even individuals who write to a business to say that they refuse to buy their products any more unless the company behaves more ethically are at risk of being outside the law should the company have potentially noticeable loss in sales.

The maximum penalty for coercion is 5 years in prison! To finally attain legal certainty on this issue a self-indictment campaign has been started.

This typical style of campaigning is not immoral, on the contrary - it's definitely a positive thing to make our shopping habits more ethical, to try to influence other consumers to this end and to correspond with company management about their business practises.

The activists in Innsbruck are always happy for any support in their untiring work and will continue to protest next Friday and Saturday afternoon in the Museumstrasse at the Kleider Bauer store from 2-5 pm on both days.