DISPATCHES FROM SEQUANI ANIMAL TORTURE CENTRE, SOCPA AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR DEMOCRACY.
Sequani is a contract testing laboratory based in Ledbury in Herefordshire. They test anything for anyone for a price which includes poisoning rats, mice, dogs and numerous other animals with various products from drugs to anti dandruff shampoo to toothpaste.
Recently the women of Ledbury have been invited to partake in human trials for a tampon which contains painkillers which we presume was first tested on animals hardly life saving medical research, more like the medicalisation of normal female physiology. The menopause has long been regarded as pathological the implication being that women cannot live without medical help, utter nonsense except in a minority of cases. Notwithstanding that it is hardly healthy to take painkillers for every little ache and pain there is many issues at stake here. A woman who has very painful periods maybe should be checked over by her GP to make sure that all is well instead of rushing off to spend hard earned cash on something which may treat the symptoms but not the cause and might actually poison her into the bargain. For those who have mild period pain there is always paracetomol and a hot water bottle. Child a bit lively? dose it up on Ritalin. Feeling a bit sad? dose up with Prozac the Americans are taking it in their millions so it must be good. Of course Ritalin and Prozac may be useful drugs for some individuals but certainly not on the scale we are seeing.The drug companies are making billions out of the mass medication of people who certainly do not “need” it and in fact might be harmed by it. Oops a daisy those who took HRT to cope with minor menopausal symptoms now have breast cancer, some of those who took Zyban rather than using will power to stop smoking are ermm dead, ditto some individuals who took Baycol to lower cholesterol,etc, etc,etc. We only mention all this because we are so often depicted as arch deviants who want to stop all medical research, dig up grannies, and cause the collapse of humanity into the abyss and so pot? kettle? black?.
Well we support proper medical research because some of us work in the NHS, some of us are or may become ill, ie not for petty imagined “illnesses” and not on other species (how is a month old rat in any way comparable with a 60 year old man?))For the record no animal rights person has been charged or convicted for digging up Gladys Hammond and we only mention her because whenever we complain about the way in which we are being treated someone always brings up this incident, we have no idea whether or not animal rights people were involved and certainly were not involved ourselves. By the way BAA intend to dig up not one body (which is grossly indecent) but 3 ENTIRE GRAVEYARDS disentering the corpses some of whom were killed by aviation pollution!!!
We believe that there are many important issues surrounding testing on animals and for 25 years local people have gone to the gates to demonstrate disgust at vivisection and highlight these issues. Certainly over the last 10 years this has been a small local affair and not much other than placard holding and chanting has occurred much as it would at any other demonstration. There have been a couple of minor public order arrests and some Sequani staff have on occasion been very threatening even throwing protestors into oncoming traffic but nothing terribly exciting, no corpses, no home demos, no bombs, no hate mail, no liberations, no criminal damage. So why is it that 12 protestors are now facing 5 years in prison for protesting peacefully against Sequani and why should even a fox-hunting, fur hag, foie gras eating vivisector be concerned? We aim to open some debate on this, alert the wider public and save democracy and we will begin by describing the events of 2006.
We cannot say anything about the trial because of draconian reporting restrictions. The hysterical exaggerations and fantasies of some of the staff and some police officers as well as the disgraceful manipulation behind the scenes will have to remain a mystery for now suffice to say that the state have spent millions of pounds of public money persecuting a small group of people for protesting, peacefully against vivisection. If only the victims of muggings and burglaries and organised gangs (who now rule some areas) were as well connected as Sequani….
Until now security, police and protestors all managed perfectly well. Every protestor knew that if they ran in through the gates and did “naughty” things that the police would arrest them, security guards knew that if they decided to throw protestors into oncoming traffic that it was best to do it when the police were dealing with actual crime. The police ignored protestors complaints about security staff but hey ho they were not too draconian and did not arrest people for simply holding banners and speaking out against vivisection and no one died as a result of being hurled in front of lorries. 2006 saw a massive change and we think that the police promised Sequani that they would eradicate us. Staffordshire police turned up for a couple of demos no doubt getting withdrawal symptoms from activists after Newchurch guinea pig farm closed (deep down they really must love us) and “advised” West Mercia on how best to deal with us. This started with an errr interesting interpretation of section 42. Protestors would arrive and hold banners, a police officer would arrive and look terribly important because s/he had been given a clip board and thus dear reader reached the very zenith of his/her carreer. S/he would then announce that because there were “dwellings” nearby that the demonstration could upset someone and everyone would be ordered to move under pain of arrest and not return for 7 days when the whole charade was then repeated. Using the legislation this way meant that ANY demonstration in the vicinity (vicinity is not defined it could mean 2 miles away), of any dwelling (dwelling is not defined it could mean a tent halfway up Scafell or a yacht in the English channel) would be unlawful. Fortunately the police soon learnt a year later to their considerable cost (£25,000 in all we believe) that this was in fact not the case after those unlawfully arrested sued for compensation for abduction, malicious prosecution and assault. Credit where it is due West Mercia Professional Standards (police officers who police the police) investigated on behalf of the complainants and found that there was this briefing document lurking about which was given to the police on the ground who believed that they were making legal arrests under both section 42 and under antisocial behaviour legislation when in fact they were not. West Mercia apologised and compensated very gracefully, clearly orders had come from on high and police on the ground were not to blame or were they? At that time it was impossible to tell what would happen at demonstrations because one day arrests could happen and the next a police sergeant could be congratulating everyone on their good humour and peaceful demeanor and all was well.
At present we are glad to report that the police are behaving themselves and have curbed their anti social behaviour but we suspect that this might change soon. Only 2 gripes apparently Sequani are allowed to film us as much as they want as they are utterly trustworthy, responsible and would not dream of tampering with the footage. We have been threatened with arrest if we have a video camera even if it switched off, even if security guards are hurling people in front of lorries in case they feel intimidated and so if any protest does go to court the only recorded evidence will be from Sequani as our footage will have been destroyed and equipment confiscated. How odd that footage filmed by Sequani played in court has had the sound of protestors shouting enhanced so that they can be heard over lorries rushing past? Must be a technical problem.The second gripe is that we are well behaved we really do not need a police officer each and we are sure that they would rather be elsewhere doing real police work (well most of them anyway except those who keep nicking the donuts from the Sequani security building, and the occasional officious nutter)
PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR THEIR BELIEFS
May 2006 saw the first raids to our knowledge (certainly in the last 10 years) of Seqauni protestors homes. These were dawn raids and houses were cleared out of every cd, computer, printer, leaflet, banner, everything really that was not nailed down. Initially 14 people were arrested 12 were later charged under SOCPA and are at the moment in the midst of a trial so we can say little else suffice to say that if you wish to hold up a banner (and that is all and we do mean a nice polite banner and no we do not mean a roof top demo, or one that might be on the evil one’s land) outside for example Tescos, or BAA then one day you might be in the same court room facing 5 years inside. Lucky really that SOCPA just refers to vivisection but seriously how long will it be before those who are against nuclear power, or are pro hunt, or are against phonemasts or indeed disagree with government policy in any way face the same sanctions? You could argue that we are nasty, violent graverobbers, but we are actually quite a nice bunch and whilst we are by no means perfect we do not kill people like the Fascists and believe you me you’d rather meet us on a dark night in the woods rather than some hunt supporters or badger diggers. Neither fascists or the Real Countryside Alliance face this law in all its full glory but they will one day as will all protestors. The police and their chums in the CPS are very keen to squander 4 million pounds thus far of public money on this case no doubt at the expense of ordinary folk who face an epidemic of real crime and no assistance from the law. In the West Mercia area burglaries, serious harassment and environmental desecration such as flytipping are utterly neglected at the expense of doffing the collective police cap to the vivisection industry. This does not benefit even a Sequani worker. Just imagine you work for Sequani, the police pester you for a statement to say that you felt harassed by an octogenarian holding a banner that you couldn’t quite see a year ago, you go home and find that your partner, a carpenter, has had his lock-up burgled yet again with thousands of pounds worth of tools gone. He can no longer work as he has no tools and cannot buy more tools as he can no longer work, you lose your house, the police are not interested but they still really want to know about the trauma you suffered because you might have seen this old banner. The police are being used as political pawns and some of them seem to really enjoy this role.
The message they want to send out is that if you protest however peacefully against animal experiments they will ruin your life.
First of all a dawn raid. Now apart from having the inconvenience of your door being smashed in, you being assaulted, your pets and/or children being terrorised, every little thing you own(including letters, cards, school reports, photos, bank statements) being scrutinised by some creepy Herr Flick wannabe and being dragged off in handcuffs to the police station, being raided is not too bad. It is almost an annual event for some of us, a bit like Kim and Aggie coming in and decluttering your house minus channel 4 and the glamorous sequined gloves but plus another even creepier Herr Flick wannabe(who looks like Voldemort with a hangover) filming your every move and plain old latex gloves (don’t ask you’ll find out soon enough). However if you live with your parents or a partner who are not fully understanding even if the case is dropped entirely you could still be in trouble with your nearest and dearest, a landlord/lady might throw you out especially if you are a lodger and of course others in the movement who can not risk getting raided feel forced to abstain from ANY actions unable to risk upsetting an elderly relative or their children.
Secondly Work. Those who are retired, on benefits, the self employed, or who are really valued by an organisation who do not wish to lose valuable skills should be OK. Anyone else could be in trouble. Imagine explaining to an employer that not only have you been arrested but that you need a day off for court the following week. You go to court and another date is set, then another, you have to then take days off to discuss strategy with your legal team, you use up all your holiday and then a trial is set to last 13 weeks. Your name might be all over the press. Many employers would be none too chuffed and even the most sympathetic might think of getting rid of the activist if not there and then maybe at a later date when the police repeat the process or another event for example a car crash or having to care for an elderly relative causes more friction. The point is of course to punish those who criticise vivisection. West Mercia police also made a point of arresting people at work and searching people’s places of work in a vindictive attempt to make people lose their jobs. Again some other activists would have had to stop legal, peaceful protest unable to risk losing their livelihoods. Even if the case is dropped people’s jobs are still in jeopardy especially if the police do the same thing repeatedly which they have been known to do.
Thirdly money. A 13 week trial traveling to and fro and supporting self and family with no wages is somewhat difficult which is why the trial is taking place in Birmingham rather than Worcester or Hereford.For those on benefits it is almost impossible if the defendant wants to eat as well. Clearly another attempt to intimidate and send out a wider message that what has been regarded as legal protest in the past is now only the preserve of the very wealthy who can afford such disruption.
Needless to say all of these factors make a guilty plea appear to be the much easier option!In spite of the intimidation only one defendant has pleaded guilty so far.
The reason we mention all this is not to cause panic or to spread paranoia, but to make it very clear that the right to protest in a traditional way is under an onslaught which has severe ramifications for us all. We utterly oppose any attack on democracy and whilst we are the enemies of hunters we are opposed to them being arrested for wearing “bollocks to Blair” Tshirts, obviously we are opposed to the attacks on Brian Haw and Mia Evans and numerous other activists but this is not a matter of an arrest at the scene of the offence, a day in the magistrates court, a fine and a criminal record. These things are bad enough when one has only protested in an orderly manner but it is quite possible to continue pick up the pieces and continue with life, we know as we have done this repeatedly. What is happening right now starting with animal rights activists is the total dismantling of people’s lives and many seem to think that this is appropriate but think again do you really deep down feel that an animal rights activist who has gone into an office, let off an air horn, handed out a few leaflets and walked out again is worse than a child rapist? Recent sentencing of activists have included 4 years for a few office occupations, 6 years for putting paintstripper on cars, 12 years for running a campaign and an indefinite sentence for property damage. Many who rape and kill will be freed long before animal rights activists, clearly human beings rate far less than a company’s profit margin! We have read and heard of many views that support the crackdown on us but if you really think that the powers that be will stop once we have been rounded up, demonised and interned then you are seriously deluded. You may not like what we have to say but in a democracy if someone wants to protest outside Barclays that space pixies from Venus have stolen their pencil case it is the right for that person to protest that is important not the fact that you do not like what they are saying. The bottom line is that if you want to live in a democracy we come as part of the package, if you do not like the pictures of tortured animals walk past and bear in mind we find your McDonalds corpse burger and your fur coat far more offensive and we happen to think that skinning animals alive is extreme ditto factory farming. Even some leading Pro-test members have expressed disquiet over draconian legislation which could potentially limit all anti vivisection protest to a carefully worded occasional letter to the press or an MP. Imagine if the unions and the Suffragettes had been thus limited and then think what sort of regime we will all have to endure a few years from now. The outcome of the Sequani trial will partially set the precedent for whether or not we continue to enjoy liberty or face a tyranny unheard of for centuries.
We will continue to protest until we are locked up or indeed maimed (at least one of us has suffered life threatening injuries from the police requiring a 2 week hospital stay)as we have a duty to speak out for the animals and to those brave souls who handed us the legacy of a free (ish) country after suffering torture and death for their beliefs. We do not fear the police or the courts and if they persecute us we will challenge them for as long as we possibly can. For those who think that this does not apply to them do not expect too much sympathy when the door is smashed in and it is you who are hauled off for handing out leaflets against a phone mast, or holding a banner at a farmers blockade at Tescos. You have all been warned please take note. If you disagree with SOCPA then come to Ledbury, or any anti SOCPA demo, write to your MP and say so even if you also disagree with us.
Filed under: Animal Rights, Arrests, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Convictions, Corruption, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Injunctions, Justice??, Police State, Protests, Raids, Repression, Sequani, SOCPA, Speak Campaign | 5 Comments »