Rally, march and die-in
On Saturday 21st September 2002, six hundred demonstrators gathered
in Central London to demand an independent judicial inquiry into
the Government's failure to enforce laws in approving licenses for
In spring 2000, thousands of pages of documents were leaked to
anti-vivisection group Uncaged Campaigns.
The documents came from Imutran Ltd, a biotech subsidiary of Novartis
Pharma and described severe pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments
conducted at controversial research company Huntingdon Life Sciences.
The Diaries of Despair report, published by Uncaged Campaigns exactly
two years ago on 21 September 2000, presented evidence of:
- severe suffering endured by macaque monkeys and wild-caught
baboons in experiments
- a collusive relationship between Home Office regulators and
the research companies
- Home Office bending and breaking rules to facilitate the approval
of licenses for the research
- misleading statements from the Government about the research
programme, covering up problems and breaches of regulations
- exaggerated claims made by Imutran for the progress of their
research and false denials of animal suffering
A weekend of protest began on Friday 20 September with a demonstration
and petition submission calling on the Prime Minister to establish
the independent inquiry into the Government's dereliction of duty.
Saturday 21st September was a warm late summer's day in the capital.
A mass midday rally at Temple Place was addressed by Andrew Tyler,
director of Animal Aid, and Dan Lyons from Uncaged Campaigns.
The demonstrators then set off on a noisy and colourful long march
to the Home Office. At the Home Office, hundreds of protesters in
monkey costumes staged a poignant 'die-in' and two minutes silence
in memory of the Imutran primates.
Memorial books for the animals were signed, with hundreds of messages
urging the Home Office to come clean and agree to an independent
enquiry. The protest ended with the submission of the memorial books
to the Home Office.
Dan Lyons reflects on the day's events:
"Today was an inspirational, uplifting demonstration.
There's growing anger at the biased, contemptuous attitude of the
Blair Government to the controversial issue of vivisection. But
on the other hand, there's growing optimism in the progress we're
making in exposing abuse and malpractice.
"A policy built on lies and deceit cannot stand
the test of time. We will win because the Diaries of Despair campaign
is based on truth, justice and democratic values.
"We'd like to express our deepest gratitude
to every single person who participated and supported the protests."
Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons will now continue to focus determinedly
on winning their two year legal battle with Imutran & Novartis
as they try to overturn a temporary injunction which prevents the
publication of the leaked documents.
Uncaged Campaigns, 21 September 2002