Worldlog Week 16 – 2008


18 aprile 2008

Dear friends,

This week we learned that the construction of a large business park (Sciencelink) in the Netherlands will not go ahead. This business park was to accommodate companies that conduct research on laboratory animals. The reason given was the actions of violent animal-rights activists who allegedly daubed employees’ houses with graffiti and set a car on fire. This was quickly followed by calls in parliament for “anti-terrorist measures” with tougher sentences for animal-rights activists (for the sake of convenience, no distinction was made between violent animal-rights activists and non-violent animal-rights activists), which again only served to stigmatise and demonise all who stand up for the rights of animals.

The political parties in the governing coalition, many of whose representatives have personal and/or financial links with the highly intensive livestock industry, seized upon this incident to engage in some “good old bashing”. During the debate, we pointed out that not a single person had been apprehended for the alleged crimes and that the accusations were insinuation more than anything else.

Current legislation in the Netherlands contains sufficient instruments for dealing with lawbreakers and there is no need to increase sentences for a handful of violent animal-rights activists. And there is certainly no need whatsoever to be issuing restraining orders against animal-rights activists accused of causing “nuisance”. Before resorting to measures like these, we would need a clear definition of what this so-called nuisance actually entails and we would have to debate whether such measures might severely compromise our freedom of demonstration and freedom of speech.

The Party for the Animals uses legal and non-violent means to achieve its objectives. However, we realise that the breeding ground for violent animal-rights activism must be removed by giving animals a better life and exercising greater transparency in, for example, animal experiments.

Last week was an extremely busy one for Minister Verburg of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. She accused me of “impropriety” because I had told a newspaper that elements of the supervisory bodies for the cattle and meat sector were corrupt. According to the minister, this was paramount to saying that the inspection staff was open to bribery. She may be interested to know that “corrupt” actually means “contaminated”. It would be difficult to think of a more apt way to describe the poor inspection procedures for the slaughter of sick and even dead animals.

Minister Verburg of Agriculture, Nature and
Food Quality

The minister made yet another attempt to blacken the Party for the Animals. My colleague Esther Ouwehand had submitted questions to the minister about a dance party that was apparently going to feature performances with animals, such as lions and crocodiles, in a circus tent. Esther’s parliamentary questions did cause the organisers of the dance party to abandon the use of wild animals, as was reported in the regional newspapers. Yet a month later, the minister sent government investigators to the party where they encountered partygoers dressed as wild animals.

The minister then sent parliament a facetiously toned report that apparently contained “interesting information”. In her letter, the minister reported that the inspection had found only people dressed up as wild animals and she tried to imply that the entire affair had been misevaluated by the Party for the Animals. Nothing could be further from the truth since it was our party that prevented the use of wild animals at the event in the first place. The minister’s facetious report only caused her to lose face when it became apparent that she was obviously not aware of the actual course of events as reported in the press.

Until next week!