Martin Balluch

Austria

Martin Balluch has started his activism in 1979, when he participated in the campaign to get nuclear power stations banned in Austria. He was arrested for the first time in 1979 while occupying the meadows outside the imperial palace in Vienna. Since then, more than 25 arrests have followed. In 1985, he started his first animal rights group at the University of Vienna. For the last 20 years he has been campaigning with the organisation VGT (Association Against Animal Factories) to achieve an impressive long list of law reforms and bans, amongst them bans of fur farming, wild animal circuses, battery farms, vivisection on apes, sow stalls, caging of rabbits and breeding of wild fowl to be hunted and shot.

In 2008, he spent 105 days in prison and then 14 months on trial for charges of leading a criminal organisation in animal rights. After 3 years, he was found not guilty on all accounts because of proven innocence. The latest of his victories was a national ban on hunting enclosures in Austria. For that he is again on trial on different charges, ranging from taping police officers to fly posting and insulting rich huntsmen with his campaigning style.