Monday, October 19

Silence for pigs

  • fromClemens Dörrenberg

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During their protest at the Alte Oper, animal rights activists demonstrate how animals are kept in a confined space. Nationwide people took to the streets on Saturday to draw attention to the suffering of breeding animals.

Looking towards the fountain, you sit in silence on the cold stone floor in front of the Old Opera. Many passers-by who cross Opernplatz on Saturday afternoon look curiously and sometimes stop. Around 30 women and men try to draw attention to the suffering of the breeding animals with their silent protest at the “vigil against exploitation in pig breeding”. They denounce the “crate where breeding sows are kept in narrow cages”. To illustrate the small size of the cages, the activists drew rectangles on the floor with white chalk. “200 centimeters by 70 centimeters, that’s how much space a sow has in its crate,” says Daniel Bothe, from the “Active against Species” initiative, which organized the nationwide protest in Frankfurt.

A person has sat down in every third rectangle, with sufficient distance from the others and a sign with numbers and a barcode – similar to animal identification. All of them wear mouth and nose covers and have brought blankets and sleeping mats between the floor and buttocks.

Bothe, who is standing on the stairs to the opera house with a mobile loudspeaker, calls through a microphone: “I have a room in a flat share with 16 square meters” and continues: “Imagine that you have to share this with 20 others.” This is reality for 60 million pigs in Germany. In the stables it “smells of ammonia, which corrodes the airways”. Diseases are twice as common as with other forms of husbandry. The animals in these cages couldn’t even turn around. “The only thing you can do is gnaw at the bar that locks you up,” adds the 26-year-old student.

“Oppressive, restricting, just cruel”

Sabrina Trenk is sitting on the floor with her legs bent, her bag and a thermos with tea behind her. Your knees protrude beyond the white mark. “Oppressive, constricting, simply cruel”: This is how she imagines the sensations that pigs must have crammed together like this. She has been vegan for three years. “I think like pretty much everyone here,” says the 37-year-old and looks around at the other participants. An elderly man pushing his bike past speaks to her about the action. The 68-year-old, who does not want to be quoted by name, describes the vigil as a “powerful silence”. He supports the protest “because I don’t accept what’s happening here either,” he says.

A couple who have stopped and listened starts discussing. “I think it’s good that this is done here,” says Samira Charkaoui. She has “changed a lot” in her diet, for example no longer buying gummy bears. Her companion, who does not want to read his name in the newspaper, says he does not want to “downplay” the action. However, he refers to economic efficiency in animal husbandry, which would be reflected in prices. Not everyone can afford “organic meat for 20 euros”.

When asked about this objection, Daniel Bothe says: “Today it is no longer necessary to eat meat.” The Marburger sees himself as an “animal rights activist”, not an “animal rights activist”. Unlike the “German animal lobby”, for example, which organized the nationwide day of action against crate stands and only wanted to improve housing conditions, animal rights activists are concerned with the “liberation of all animals and the abolition of farm animal husbandry”. Prisca Kranz from Hamburg sees it similarly. The 33-year-old visits friend Thiemo Klein. You happened to pass by Opernplatz. The vegan says: “In the western world we have the luxury of being able to choose whether to eat meat.” Klein, who also lives without animal products, says: “Diet is one of the biggest factors influencing climate change.” -year-old Frankfurters can also imagine holding out on the ground for animal rights. The activists in front of the Alte Oper remain seated for several hours until after dark.

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