Backlash in Britain over animal rights activists' tactics
Authorities are cracking down severely on animal rights activists
running on-going campaigns against Huntingdon Life Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline,
Oxford University and other companies accused of animal exploitation.
Extreme activists have been labelled 'thugs and terrorists', while one
security analyst was widely reported as calling the UK "the Afghanistan of
animal rights extremism". Prime Minister Tony Blair has also focused recently on
law and order issues, declaring that it is time to act against animal rights
protesters. Oxford sought and received injunctions limiting demonstrations at
its new research lab. GlaxoSmithKline received a court injunction protecting the
identities of its shareholders. Almost a dozen activists have recently been
arrested for unknown reasons while others have been given lengthy jail
London's High Court granted unprecedented injunctions limiting
the freedom of Oxford University protesters. The injunctions are intended to
protect Oxford's still-under-construction biomedical animal research laboratory
from anti-vivisection demonstrations. Activists will be permitted to protest
only during certain specified times and cannot use bullhorns. Activists will not
be allowed to identify former and current students, staff, and contractors from
the research centre and no protest activity can take place within a hundred
yards of the residences of those who work with the lab. Protests are not allowed
within 100 yards of colleges or universities themselves, but Oxford failed in
attempting to gain a four square mile anti-protest exclusion zone. Activists
from the UK group SPEAK said the injunctions would make little difference to the
group's campaigning activities.
After activists mailed letters to
GlaxoSmithKline shareholders that threatened to reveal their names if they did
not sell their shares, Europe's biggest drug maker secured a rare High Court
injunction against an unknown group of animal rights activists, preventing them
from publicising names of its shareholders. It was the first time such an
injunction had been granted to a company in Britain.
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