Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Translate and voice: Susannah Louise
The three animal activists in prison in Spain since June 22 have been freed by the Provincial Court in A Coruña. They were arrested together with another nine people, who were immediately placed on bail, with all of them being accused of the same set of general offences, including damages, trespass and criminal association. No specific details about the charges have yet been given.
On the day of release, the organisations Equanimal and Animal Equality, to which the accused activists belong, held a press conference to launch an international campaign in support of the animal advocates currently being targeted by the Spanish state, under the name United Against Repression – in defence of the animal rights movement.
According to their spokespersons at the press conference “the release of the three animal activists confirms the lack of motives for the arrests”.
The court accepted the activists' appeal for bail and criticised that the committal order did not give details of the charges filed at the activists, something that “breaches the right to defence”. The judge did not find justification for prison, and gave the defence lawyers only the heading of the indictment, with the argument that the contents are currently secret. Therefore, those arrested were given “neither an explanation nor a resolution” and stated they were “obliged to defend themselves in the face of a decision without knowing why it was taken.”
The court has also criticised the examining magistrate for not explaining why it is thought they could destroy evidence if they were released while the case was being investigated. According to the court, “The address of the organisation Equanimal, with which those charged are linked, is well-known and there has been sufficient time to take the necessary measures to gather any possible evidence.”
The activists' lawyer lodged the appeal against the committal order presented by the Examining Magistrate number 2 of Santiago de Compostela. The appeal for bail was accepted, and the charges were maintained, as a result of which the 12 activists are required to appear at the magistrates court every month until the case is tried, the investigation of which is supposedly under a gag order, although some details currently being withheld from the activists have instead been leaked to the press by the judge and police.
The arrests are the result of Operation Hoist, in which the Spanish Guardia Civil wrongly label the activists as “radical ecologists”, and consider them the authors of a list of crimes which include offences from releasing minks to setting bullrings alight, all for being the heads of the organisations they belong to.
These animal advocates carry out their activism publicly, and are accompanied by the media on occasions, since their actions are transparent and they look for the greatest media exposure, which they have obtained from actions such as jumping into bullrings or onto catwalks, but the Guardia Civil considers that behind these actions there is also sabotage, threats to companies and even including the desecration of a bullfighter's grave.
However, Animal Equality spokesperson Javier Moreno, one of the activists charged, yesterday defended the actions carried out by these groups which “only intend to bring to light the goings on of the animal exploitation industries”.
The platform United Against Repression – in defence of the animal rights movment, deals with organising and coordinating the international campaign in solidarity with the activists and the animal rights movement as a whole, and against the repression they are being faced with.
Since the arrests have taken place, the solidarity with the activists has gone global, with protests having taken place in close to 30 countries, and will be maintained until the animal rights movement ceases to be criminalised, and that media attention and justice is focused on the place where violence and terror are really
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