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Free entry. Vegan food at cost.
legal notice
www.animal-liberation.at / english / archive / 2007 / maribor

Animal Liberation Workshop 2007 in Maribor

The second ALW this season was held from 26th-27th May
in Slovenia

Slovenia has joined the EU already some while back and has an established democracy. Veganism made headline news when the elected president of Slovenia publicly admitted to being vegan. In many interviews and public statements, he explained the reasons for his decision and that new ethics are necessary to do justice to the interests of non-human animals.

In Slovenia, there are some established animal shelters and some groups that work to protect pet animals. But the animal rights movement that makes animal rights to a political issue, is a very recent development. There is an animal rights group in Ljubljana, which has been active for some years, and which has held the first ever demo march through town against fur with 140 participants this year. The other animal rights group is active in Maribor and was responsible for organizing this Animal Liberation Workshop there.

The ALW took place in a squatted estate called Pekarna, which is Slovenian for bakery, since this is what the estate was used for many years ago. Those people running Pekarna today live vegetarian themselves and offered their rooms and equipment to be used for free. There is also vegetarian/vegan catering at the estate, which provided fine vegan meals for lunch and dinner for the altogether 30 participants of the workshops.

From all over Slovenia people had come to join the ALW. Also, there were people from Croatia and Austria present. The atmosphere was generally very positive and motivating. The ALW was a great success.

On Saturday at 10 am, the workshops started with a brief summary of the history of the animal rights movement and an introduction to its ideas. After that, activists from Slovenia, Croatia and Austria reported on their recent demos, actions and campaigns. Especially in Croatia, since 6 years now there is a very active group that has achieved in a very short time an animal law that is impressive on international standards. It bans for example fur farming and wild animals in circuses. Hence this group has a lot of experience, which lead to very valuable contributions in the discussions.

In discussing campaigns, the topic of police repression and how to deal with authorities especially when holding demos came up. In Slovenia, you have to pay 36 Euro to apply for a demo permit to different institutions. This obstacle to free assembly cannot be constitutional and it was suggested that Slovenian activists should challenge it at the European Court of Human Rights. In Croatia, it is enough to notify authorities of your intention to hold a demo, but you still have to pay 10 Euro for each notification. That is questionable too, though, having to pay to be able to protest.

At 5 pm, a demo against meat was held outside McDonalds in Maribor. For some activists, holding a demo was a new experience. Although the drumming gave the demo a noisy appearance, passers-by generally took the demo very positively.

Later in the evening, the film „Behind the mask” was shown.

Sunday morning, the program started with a workshop of campaign strategies. It lead to an intense debate on how to deal with media. Some people argued that it is vital to pamper media in every way possible to achieve wide coverage. Others warned that we should not sell out and become mainstream conservative in appearance for the sake of being covered. There is a difference between superficial sensationalized tabloid press, with widespread coverage that is short lived, or serious political reports that will not be as well covered but have a longer lasting effect. The animal rights movement should keep both options open.

On Sunday, also veganism, tissue engineering, investigations and animal rights in court were topics. A summary of the trial to get a legal guardian for a chimp in Austria was also presented. If granted, that would be the first time a nonhuman animal was accepted a person anywhere in the world, which would revolutionize human-animal relationships.

After 2 days of intense workshops together, the 30 activists separated and went back to their local groups to try with fresh energy and new ideas to make animal rights a reality.