IARG – 2013
The International Animal Rights Gathering took place from the 16th to 18th of August, in Belgium, in the shelter run by the group Animaux En Péril [Animals In Danger]. This shelter welcomes abandoned or mistreated pets that justice seizes from breeders and pet-owners.
The site on which the Gathering took place belongs to the owner of the shelter, Jean-Marc Montegnies. A camp-site, a hall for the meals and tents for the debates were set up. The food was organised by a canteen with the pretty sexist name of « Just Like Your Mom ». Only one other independent, travelling and revolutionary baker was there to prepare the pounds of bread needed to feed the 150-200 people in attendance. This well-organised gathering had all amenities. As for the dry toilets, we pointed out an issue of transphobia, since on the first day, posters asked for « all men to pee standing up outside of the dry toilets ». A response stating that some women had penises, some men had vaginas, that neither our gender or the shape of our genitals determine the position in which we pee and that we prefered the term « people who want to pee standing up » was promptly taken into account and modified by the organising group. The objective of the gathering was to bring up different discussions about ongoing campaigns and the struggle against Air France, vivisection, hunting, etc, to question both practices and theories of animal liberation. This gathering brought together people active in many different countries : Spain, Italy, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Sweden, Slovakia, Catalonia, Norway…
Les Panthères Enragées [Rabid Panthers] denounce racism and fascism in f-ucking-rance in animal protection
The Toulouse-based collective Les Panthères Enragées organised an intersectionnal workshop, linking queer, feminist and anti-speciesest struggles as well as anti-fascism. A struggle that seems more than necessary currently in France.
The debate about anti-fascism exposed the particularly worrying situation in France on issues of animal rights’ struggles which are gangrenous with the presence of racist, homophobic and fascist militants and groups. This situation may stem from different reasons, one of which being that the struggles on animal rights are not attracting anti-capitalist, anarchist or anti-fascist militants, which leaves room to the spreading of these sickening ideas without any powerful and united response. Another cause is that a vast majority of this struggle is made in the name of animal protection rather than animal liberation, which makes it into a single-issue campaign, devoid of any political project or intersectionnality, which therefore accepts without any problem the presence, support, or funding from anyone, under the pretense that everything must be done and thought solely to protect animals.
This complacency is being advocated by many, including through the links between Animaux En Péril and its owner J.-M. Montagnie, and Nathalie Krier who they have hosted several times, a Fascist activist who has long been present in animal protection first through the Brigitte Bardot Fundation, and, more recently, through the Fascist group 3ème Voie [Third Way]. This group is best known for its founder Serge Ayoub, aka Batskin, a bonehead militant since the 80s, but also for its militant Esteban Morillo, the murderer of the antifascist militant close to the anti-speciesist struggle Clément Méric last June.
We showed a powerpoint presentation showing a picture of Nathalie Krier inside the AEP shelter, as well as at an anti-fur rally in Paris in 2013 next to her friend Esteban Morillo and her friend Katya Veloso, and finally with 3ème Voie, including Serge Ayoub. The AEP shelter doesn’t have friends of friends who are Fascists, but knowingly hosts members of the FBB and a member of 3ème Voie, without the owner seeing anything wrong with that.
Nathalie Krier and Jerome Lescure at Animaux en Peril
A second part of the anti-fascist debate questioned the showing of the movie ALF by Jérôme Lescure, planned the following day of the gathering. Not only has this film received funding and support from the Brigitte Bardot Fundation, something the director is proud of since he advertises it on the film’s facebook page ; but also, we informed everyone in attendance that at the Emagny demonstration in June 2013, Nathalie Krier took pictures of anti-fascist militants. She then asked over the internet for the identity of the attending anti fascists be found out and disclosed. One of the people who answered her was no other than Jérôme Lescure.
“Shameful ! Can you tell me who they are in private ? we need to evict them of some project that we organise and tell everyone. Those people are dangerous for the sake of our actions” Jerome Lescure (Private conversation between Jerome Lescure and Nathalie Krier against antifascists vegans)
Not only do they know each other through social networks, but also on the ground, as a picture of the annual assembly of the CRAC [Radical Committee Against Bull-Fighting] shows him next to Nathalie Krier, both smiling.
These various bits of information profoundly shocked the vegan* militants in attendance and many wished to persue this discussion after the meal.
Another example of the links between Animaux en Péril and far-right activists : this is a well known fascist with Jerome Lescure, again
She works at Animaux en Péril :
And his boyfriend is a “famous” fascist :
* Obviously, in a struggle against all oppressions, the vegan militants who supported us are considered as antifa, even if we don’t mention it every time.
ALF the movie : marketing and flirt with racism and fascism
This second debate gathered first around 70 people, and even more later on. Two main points were discussed : the marketing around the ALF movie and the links between the director and racist and fascist groups and individuals who went as far as trying to reveal the identity of some antifas to repressive ends.
In the main hall of the gathering, a stall, larger than any other, was set up, exclusively dedicated to promoting the ALF movie, offering £22 T-shirts and £50 hoodies made in Bengladesh. This huge stall presents the ALF as a brand of which a single person is the ambassador since he directed a movie, which should grant him stardom during this international gathering. Even if, legally, only « ALF » with the red A has been trademarked, in effect, ALF has ben commodified, made into a logo, an icon of capitalism. But the ALF is not a product and even less made in an Asian country to be later sold to White middle-class people at a ludicrous price. It does not belong to a single individual who uses this famous name to become a star of animal protection in France, Belgium, and during this international gathering. It is not a movie which contains a sexist remark (« bitch ») and a racist remark («a « joke » about Portuguese people). It is the exact opposite. The ALF is a set of actions to expose and fight exploitation, oppression and murder of non-human animals.
Along with this marketing, the relation between Jérôme Lescure and Nathalie Krier, a member of the FBB and of the Fascist group 3ème Voie is not incidental. He is proud to show off the FBB and Brigitte Bardot as a support and fellow activist. Let’s recall that Brigitte Bardot married a Front National activist, that she support Marine LePen in elections and that she was condemned 5 times for homophobia and racial hatred.
During the debate, different proposals of reaction to this film-showing came up. To boycott the movie, to confront the director with his contradictions, or write a text against the commodification of the ALF and the relation between J. Lescure and people from the fFascist movement for animal rights. Before agreement could be reached, however, JM Montegnies, the owner of the shelter spoke. As he only spoke French, issues arised in the translation of his words. He affirmed he was extremely shocked that such a debate, the sole aim of which was to muddy J. Lescure’s reputation, could took place, a person who he sees as his brother and a friend since more than 10 years. He claimed that JL was not a Fascist and that he did not care about politics but only about animal welfare. He said Nathalie Krier had visited several times, that she was known by everyone in the shelter and that if we considered her a Fascist militant, he should be considered as one as well, as well as everyone working at Animaux En Péril. Finally, he ordered the end of the debate in the next 5 minutes or he would push people out since, he claimed, « when some cross the line, everyone pays ! ».
This intervention by the highest-ranking authority figure, as the owner of the site, and his complacency towards Belgian and French Fascists forced the members of Les Panthères Enragées and some comrades to mask their faces.
This intervention provoked renewed unease. Not only did he affirm the marketing around the ALF movie was a non-issue, but he also affirmed his support to Nathalie Krier, a Fascist activist. His authoritarianism and his attempt at dividing the international antifascist vegan movement had the opposite effect to what he had hoped for. It was no longer possible to debate the issues, but only the forms used to silence us : the threat of exclusion.
It rapidly seemed unlikely that the owner would throw out everyone in attendance in the middle of the night, but more likely only the French people. A mediation team went to discuss with JM. Montagnies in order to know what exactly was going on. We then received tremendous comfort and support from the people in attendance, who remained until the end of the discussion with the mediation team, to discuss, bond, and also in case the owner would try to expel us that night, so that they could prevent it.
In the end, we were allowed to sleep on site, although the organisers informed us there would be a discussion with us the next morning.
Exclusion of the French antifa and international solidarity !
The morning talk took place with the 10 French people, 2 mediation people and some organisers, while JM. Montagnies refused to take part. Their point was clear : the owner demanded the departure of the 5 French people identified as trouble-makers that same morning.
On the 10 French people, the 5 people identified by JM Montagnies were the 2 Paris antifa who had already confronted him over his relations with the extreme right, and the 3 Panthères Enragées identified by their punk/queer outfits. No other French people was forced to leave, not even the member of the Panthères Enragées who had exposed the situation with fascism within the animal rights’ movement in France during the workshop. This confirms what the revolutionary vegan baker felt : while he prepared his bread, he had been thanked by a member of Animaux En Péril by these words : « At least that, that’s not bread for fags! » The baker had been shocked by this homophobic remark made with full confidence.
The organisers told us that this decision from JM Montagnies was in no way political, but purely emotional.
We then decided to speak up during the collective talk in the morning, in order to announce the owner’s decision. We went on stage, the 10 of us together, to tell the news. When we finished, one by one, people stood up and joined us on stage, joining our side to express their solidarity against this authoritarian decision and refuse that such a decision be acted upon without any antifascist reaction.
We wish to thank wholeheartedly everyone who stood up and expressed themselves with us. We were extremely moved by that moment, by this strength and solidarity, which was such a contrast with the absence of reaction or the hostility we are used to be faced with in f-ucking-rance. To see so many people (around 60), who had come from so many different countries, show such solidarity was one of the most moving things we’ve ever witnessed.
On the short-term, JM Montagnies only thought about his personal comfort and wanted to hinder the anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist movement, in the long term, an international reaction of support was created and will last as long as necessary.
JM Montagnies, who was wearing an ALF T-shirt, intervened without waiting for his turn once again to state that his emotions still ran too high following the previous day’s debate, that it was all lies and libel, that his grand-father was in the resistance and that he therefore could not be accused of fascism or acquaintance with fascism. He said the Panthers and the Paris antifa were only young people who had only come to cause trouble and that no French organisation wish for us to attend any longer for any events for animal welfare because we were the Fascists. In his opinion, the gathering could persue without any problem as long as we left on that day (the end of the sentence was cut off during the translation).
If part of the assembly wished to go on with the gathering without any more trouble, a vast majority of people said, on the one hand, that the previous day’s debate was not an initiative from the French people but from several activists shocked by the merchandising and the links to fascism of both the movie’s website and its director. On the other, they expressed that their support against the wish of the owner to expel part of the French people was not only an act of solidarity, but that an attack against part of the antifa was an attack against all attending antifa and that a collective response could be the only response possible.
Over 70 people then folded their tents and packed their bags, including the wandering baker, to hit the road, as the IARG is not a campsite, but is formed by everyone who attends it and makes it live. We started debating in order to see the different options we had to get on with the gathering. At the same time, we hung a « «Against every domination : Go Vegan ! » banner next to the shelter. We then learnt thata friend of Jérôme Lescure and JM Montagnies who had just arrived was no less than a cop, well known by the northern f-ucking-rance activists and that JM Montagnies had called the cops over the banner and to make us move from in front of his shelter.
Random fortune allowed us to get on with the Illegal International Animal Liberation Gathering very nearby, on some land lent by the singer of a punk/rock band who had come for some workshops, but who immediately chose to support the antifa.
Illegal International Liberation Animal Gathering : from authority to self-organisation
We went from a high-security space with CCTV, a hierarchy marked by the authoritarian and definite decisions of the owner, an organisation who entirely managed collective life and in which it was difficult to take part, to a more limited space, but larger by its autonomy and its collective development.
The inhabitants of the space offered us all the possible material comfort : toilets, electricity and drinkable water, and we organised together for food, by picking up nettles in the field for supper. We also organised a money collection to buy a few things (toilet rolls, drinks, onions, etc.) . The baker who had obviously chosen to join this new gathering gave us 25 kilos of bread and was extremely nice and helpful with his oven, his tables and chairs, his pancakes prepared as early as 6 a.m. for breakfast the next day.
The Illegal International Animal Liberation Gathering ended with around 100 people who affirmed their antifascism and their refusel of any authority, in solidarity with the French antifascist vegans, but also as a wider collective act to create a gathering which refused any domination.
In 2013, 15 years later after the first IARG, it is the owner himself of the gathering site who expelled the antifascists, because they had dared to question the all too obvious acquaintance of the site and the film director Jérôme Lescure with the French Fascist scene.
The international vegan movement cannot accept any compromise with fascism, racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia,… whether they come from clearly identified Fascist groups or from animal rights’ organisations. The schism in this gathering was painful both because some people who supported us were unable to follow us, but also because it was a reaction to the fascist infiltration of anti-speciesist struggles.
We once again sincerely thank everyone who stood in solidarity with us. We also wish to thank someone in the organisation who was a great support, very attentive to our remarks on sexism and transphobia. We know this schism was something hard to live through. We also thank the inhabitants of the space which welcomed the end of the gathering as well as the baker.
This gathering took place under the sign of the antifascist struggle and this schism was not only a reaction, but also the affirmation of the antifascist vegan movement. This movement, already strongly present in many countries, is now international. The gathering, the bonds and the exchanges were reinforced and will go on.
We once again state that our anti-speciesist fight cannot be seperated from other struggles.
We cannot defend animal liberation while reinforcing other oppressions.
Animal liberation is a total struggle and a refusal of ALL oppressions.
To be vegan is to refuse all forms of exploitation and dominations.
This gathering proved that no-one could stop the revolutionary movement for animal liberation, not authoritarianism, not Fascism, not Jean Marc Montaignies, nor any other repressive organisms. Our comrades of struggle are incredible. They are walking towards revolution, nothing will stop us ! Thanks everyone.