On the Frontline:
An Update from the Swedish A.L.F.
In Sweden at the end of last year, inspired by grassroots campaigns in England that have successfully closed down two laboratory animal breeders, a new campaign against breeders was launched. There are two breeders of dogs for animal experimentation in the country, since all animals used in experiments have to be purpose-bred. Astra Zenenca, an enormous multinational pharmaceutical company, owns one of the breeders, located in the south of Sweden. The other, Wema, is located in the middle of Sweden, north of Uppsala.
In April 1999 the Swedish ALF raided Wema and rescued 4 beagles. In a communiqué released afterwards to media and animal rights groups, they stated "It's about time someone starts a campaign against that place and closes it down...only the grassroots can do that." Some people took those words seriously and started the campaign, Radda Wema-Hundarna (Save the Wema-Dogs). Wema is owned by a married couple, Weiler and Marianne Sandberg, and they have a permit to breed 300 dogs for the vivisection industry each year. According to reports from veterinarians who have inspected Wema, the place is filthy and many of the dogs have suffered from disease during the last two years.
The campaign held its first demo at Wema on January 2nd to show the Sandbergs what their future would look like if they don't get out of this business. As a small group of protesters stood on the road outside the farm with banners, Marianne Sandberg came out and released 5 guard dogs. Soon afterwards Weiler Sandberg ran out with a shotgun in his hand and threatened the activists. The activists left. The police arrived and took the activists to the station where they were questioned. All activists have filed complaints against Weiler Sandberg, which could cost him his weapon license. The first national demonstration outside Wema is planned for April 23rd.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast two fur farms have been raided. One has announced it is closing down as a result of the attack. Also, in Gothenburg, where several fur shops have been the targets of legal campaigns such as pickets and blockades, as well as direct action like windows being smashed and locks glued, one fur shop announced it is closing down because of the actions.
The ALF also cut up a hunting enclosure in Orebro and released 50 deer that would otherwise be murdered by hunters. During the autumn and winter, a few groups of hunt saboteurs have been out rescuing elks. The king of Sweden had his hunt sabbed which gave the movement national publicity.
A few days before Christmas, the Swedish ALF decided they wanted to give some hens an early Christmas gift and raided a battery farm in Varberg. According to a communiqué from the raiders they planned to liberate 30 hens, but were surprised by the farmer when they were inside the farm. He came inside the shed, running and yelling. The liberators had to escape and could only take the three hens they had already packed.
27-year-old environmental activist Linus Brohult, was sentenced to one year of imprisonment after the court ruled him guilty of incitement after he described how to destroy road machines in a magazine from SocialEkologiskAction (SEA). In his sentence the judge seemed to be sentencing all non-parliamentary groups, saying that animal rights activists believe they save minks when they are doing the opposite. Linus Brohult is appealing the sentence, which he believes is political.
Several animal liberation activists will go to trial this year. The first one is in February, when four people will face charges of damaging a building at SMI vivisection lab.
There have been two animal rights gatherings in Gothenburg and Linkoping in January, which have attracted many people and also brought many new activists into the movement.
Hopefully with new people, new campaigns, and new ideas coming together with the continuing and increased direct actions against animal abusers, this year will be a good one for the animals.