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Free entry. Vegan food at cost.
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www.animal-liberation.at / english / archive / 2007 / estonia

Successful Animal Liberation Workshop 2007 in Estonia

The first of the Animal Liberation Workshops this year in Europe took place in Estonia from 4th – 6th May. Animal Liberation Workshops serve to gather new activists from a region to introduce animal rights, the movement and its ideas, and debate tactics and different approaches to empower local activists to be active to maximum effect.

The workshops took place in a youth centre in Tallin, the capital of Estonia. 50 Activists, mainly from Estonia and Finland, but also from Austria and Germany, gathered already on Friday evening at the centre to socialize and watch new animal rights movies. On Saturday, the workshops started with a brief overview of the history of the animal rights movement and an introduction to its basic philosophy. With a number of graphic examples, the complete exploitation of nonhuman animals at the hands of humans was depicted. Every single aspect of the life of farmed animals in animal factories is determined by just one principle: maximising profitability. So far, no animal welfare law worldwide has been able to change this fact to date.

Next, a kaleidoscope of photos of different actions and demos was presented, as to show examples of different ideas of activities people in the movement have come up with. This was then compounded with Estonian and Finnish activists talking of their campaigns and successes so far. The day ended with a workshop on how to form animal rights groups and how to counter police repression. The latter becomes an increasingly more important issue, since in different countries activists have already received long prison sentences for entirely legal campaigns and demos, deemed “blackmail” by authorities and judges. Finnish activists reported for example, that some of their activists were fined 20.000 Euro for breach of home peace and breach of honour of animal abusers for a series of demos that were legal and accompanied by police, who did not find anything wrong with them at the time.

For those people, who could afford it, all food and the rent of the youth centre together amounted to 3 Euro per person. So, after a delicious meal, on Saturday evening more animal rights videos were shown on a big screen.

The next day was filled with workshops on successful campaigning strategies, how to do investigations of places of animal abuse and how to run court cases, with details on the recent trial for personhood of a chimp in Austria. Since the Finnish activists had to leave by 3 pm to catch their boat, the afternoon workshop on veganism saw only half the number of participants. Many concerns on vegan health were answered by long term vegans – there were even 2 lifelong vegan kids present – and the reasons for veganism were explained.

In the aftermath of the workshop, theory was put in practice and film footage on Estonian fur farms was taken.

The workshops were attended by a good mixture of new and experienced activists so that lively and interesting debates were had. Although some of the campaigning strategies presented were controversial, the atmosphere was one of unity and support of each other. The general feeling was that it was a very successful event and further dates for workshops elsewhere were agreed.