Thursday, November 16, 2006

Activists Hold First Ever Animal Rights Demonstration in the Country of Estonia

Very nice. A first of many.


Estonia gets its first ever animal rights demo

The first ever animal rights demonstration took place in Estonia on Saturday 11th November. The anti-fur demonstration took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

An activist dressed as a fox demonstrates how animals raised for fur are kept in cramped cages. The demo also included a skit in which an activist first had her 'fur' ripped from her body, then was thrown away in a plastic bag.

Animal rights campaigners marched through the streets of the capital. The Estonian demonstrators were also joined by activists from Finland. The Finnish animal rights group 'Oikeuttaeläimille' had worked closely with the local activists and were able to bring their experience in campaigning in Finland to the relatively new movement now starting in Estonia.

Demonstrators wore slogans and displayed banners, many of which read "Fur is murder" and "Don't Wear Fur", and Finnish activists were taught a few Estonian phrases in order to allow them to participate in the vocal and lively demonstration. It is known that there are 5 large fur farms in operation in Estonia and many small ones.

The demonstration lasted several hours and Arkangel has been told by a local Estonian activist that over 500 leaflets were distributed to the public. The only trouble to occur is reported to have come from a fur shop owner, who is Finnish but owns fur shops in Estonia. Tarja Niskanen became so irate at protestors demonstrating outside her shop that she decided to throw a plastic bag filled with water over some of the demonstrators. However, the demonstrators refused to be provoked and carried on with the demonstration.

The demonstration unsurprisingly received much media coverage, with all main TV channels covering it as a news story. It is said that thousands of people have commented on the demo, though not all of the commentary was favourable. However, as we have seen in countries that have a history of animal rights activity, change can be slow to occur, but change it does. The fact that the animal rights message is spreading worldwide must be celebrated by the worldwide animal rights community whilst at the same time a worry for those industries that abuse animals for profits.

Although there was no trouble from the protestors, it has been reported that one of the demonstrators was assaulted by a police officer for tapping on one of the windows of a fur shop whilst at the same time blowing a whistle. It has also been reported to Arkangel by an Estonian campaigner that whilst the demonstration did not break any of the Estonian laws and whilst every effort was made to remain within those laws, the police are looking into whether any laws were broken.

Estonia has been a member of the European Union (EU) since the 1st May 2004 after regaining its independence from the old Soviet Union on August 20th 1991. Now that Estonia is part of the EU it must abide by certain EU laws such as the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects basic human rights and freedoms. Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention allow people the fundamental right to peacefully protest and the Estonian authorities must now abide by these rights or risk being taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The animal rights movement first began in Estonia in August of this year. The main animal rights organisation is called 'Loomade Nimel' which means 'In the name of Animals'. Since its inception, the group has made contacts in Austria and Finland and are hoping to become a registered national group in the next couple of months. The group plans to expand its membership in the months ahead and hold many more demonstrations in 2007.

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