To All Concerned with Democracy and Free Speech Rights in the UK sign now

To All Concerned with Democracy and Free Speech Rights in the UK:

Seizing full advantage of the terrorist war against terror, the UK Government has unleashed a draconian attack on the animal rights movement. Currently, animal rights activists are being harassed, deported, and thrown in jail for trying to exercise rights to free speech. With the exception of Muslim extremists, no other social group in the UK is so persecuted and demonized.

Currently, the UK is trying to position itself as a cutting-edge center for biomedical research and wants to draw scientists and industries from all over the world. The highest levels of British government including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Home Office Secretary Charles Clark, and Science minister Lord Sainsbury are staunch supporters of animal research and the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries. Despite mountains of evidence exposing vivisection as bad science and even worse ethics, the state is fully committed to protecting breeders, testing companies such as Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), and beleaguered laboratories. As the vivisection and pharmaceutical industries are the third most important contributors to the British economy, the UK has pledged to do whatever it takes to defend their operations.

Consequently, the UK has demonstrated zero tolerance for those who expose the lies of vivisection and challenge animal testing corporations like HLS that exploit animals in sickeningly barbaric ways. Unable to identify the real terrorists who brutalize animals, the Home Office demonizes animal rights activists as criminals and terrorists. They have drafted increasingly repressive legislation to stop legal forms of protest and rights to free speech.

As part of its assault on democracy, the UK has seen fit to ban US activists from entering its territory. Shortly after 9/11, Kevin Jonas of SHAC USA was dragged out of his apartment by British police, handcuffed, rudely escorted on a flight back to the US, and told never to return. In July 2004, the Home Office banned trauma surgeon Dr. Jerry Vlasak, his wife Pamelyn Ferdin, and Rodney Coronado.

The situation worsened considerably after the terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005. Home Office Secretary Charles Clarke declared that "the rules of the game" were instantly changed. Indeed, the state took full advantage of the crisis to go after the Muslim community, as it also put the animal rights community in its scopes.

On August 24, Clarke issued a list of "unacceptable behavior" by those said to directly or indirectly threaten public order, national security, or the Rule of Law. The provisional list covers any non-UK citizen, whether in the UK or abroad, who uses any means or medium including writing, speaking, preaching, teaching, or the Internet to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

Clarke substantially increased the criteria by which his current powers on deporting or excluding foreign extremists could be met. It is now a crime in the UK to support groups such as the Animal Liberation Front which the government deems to be terrorist, and activists in the US or elsewhere who express that support for the ALF or direct action in writing, speaking, or an internet site can be banned from entering the UK.

The Home Office first exercised its new rules against unacceptable behaviors in controversial fashion, by banning University of Texas-El Paso philosophy professor Dr. Steven Best, declaring him, like his fellow US activists, to be a threat to the public order.

The Home Office of course has the right to ban violence and terrorism in the UK, but it defines these terms so broadly that they apply to all ranges of dissent and (what used to be) legal activity, in order to protect corporate profits and enforce the Rule of Law.

The only crimes US activists have committed is to speak out against the fraudulent nature of vivisection and express their support for the just cause of animal liberation. The only threat to the public order is a government indifferent to the suffering of animals and hell-bent on promoting the profits reaped from animal exploitation.

Unfortunately, the British media have joined hands with the corporations and state to denounce militant animal rights activism in the strongest terms, but without any understanding of political realities in a repressive and corrupt state such as England.

We urge the Home Office to remove these bans against US activists, to honor democracy and free speech rights, and to end their support for companies such as Huntingdon Life Sciences, who alone kill 500 animals a day. Just as medical progress cannot advance so long as research relies on crude, outdated, and unreliable animal models, so social progress cannot move forward through censorship and repression.

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Francis BoltonBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
UK Home Office


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