Interview with Confessed Mink Liberators!
Kristofer Aberg, 18, and Henrik Seger, 16, are 2 of 3
Swedish activists who were arrested for and have confessed to
raiding 2 mink farms on the same night. The 3 men had their
trial on May 29 and were sentenced on June 5. Kristofer and
David Zachridsson were given 4 months in jail and Henrik,
because of his especially young age, will be turned over to
the social authorities for "treatment". They are not in
custody at this time and will likely be free while appealing
to a higher court. Here is our exclusive interview with these
courageous and inspirational young warriors.
NC: Tell us about the night you were arrested.
Kristofer: I guess one could say that the night started with us going by car from Karlstad. Before leaving Karlstad, we had discussed which fur farms to attack, we had gotten all maps, tools, clothes, etc. that we needed and we left the apartment at around 10 pm. In our rented car, we headed towards a mink farm in Ardala. After parking our car we went by foot to the farm and there we used our bolt cutters to get access to this huge farm. Later we found out that this farm is responsible for the death of 70,000 mink a year. We cut about four holes in the surrounding fence and then we started to open the cages in four or five sheds. Altogether I think it was around 600-700 cages that were opened. We then ran back to our car and decided to go to another farm, located in Skyberga, around 100 miles from the first farm.
The procedure was about the same at this farm. We parked our car and went by foot to the farm where we opened the main gate and cut a hole in the surrounding fence. Then we opened about 250 cages but then we had to turn around and run because we saw someone standing at the end of the shed. Later we found out that this was the farmer (who had checked on his farm at least twice a night since he was attacked in early 1997) and now we went for a three-hour-escape. Since we saw that our car was being supervised, we had to go by foot. We ran about five miles, trying to get to the nearest city but, unfortunately, we were caught by two cops with dogs and we were taken to the police station.
NC: What inspired you to go out and risk your own freedom to let mink out of their cages?
Henrik: I started to work for animal rights in a "normal" way, but then I realized that we must take action, "direct action" to give them freedom. I was so sad to see those animals, placed in small cages and all I had to do to give them freedom and a normal life in nature was to "open the cages"! Then I began to go out to fur farms and take a look at them, just to see with my own eyes. After I had been on some fur farms, I decided to take action against this industry and rescue those animals. So I began to liberate them and letting them out of their prison by opening the cages...
Kristofer: Being aware of what is going on on the mink farms, I can't understand how anyone can stay passive and let it continue, so I just did what my instincts told me to do - to give the mink what they've been waiting for their whole life - their freedom.
NC: How did it feel to see hundreds of mink running free for the first time?
Henrik: After liberating about 1000 mink you just want to get out of there! When the mink get out of the cage, they begin to make noise, like screaming! The noise is very disturbing and you will feel a bit nervous. When you then run away from the farm and take a look around you, you will see mink all around your feet. When releasing mink, I concentrate on opening as many cages as possible, because if I take a break and look at the mink, I will lose time and some mink will lose their freedom! When we liberate mink from fur farms, we "always" release as many as possible!
Kristofer: The sight that all three of us saw when we ran from the first farm was incredible. When we left the first farm by jumping over the fence, we saw that many of the mink we had released already were enjoying freedom and I have never felt such a feeling before. No matter how many articles, etc. that you read about liberations, they can't even be compared to what it feels like to see those mink facing freedom for the first time in their lives.
NC: What did you do to pass the time in jail?
Kristofer: We spent the first four days after our arrest in the police station, and the time here was very boring and lonely, and the environment wasn't very stimulating either. I spent a lot of time sleeping, sometimes I did some exercise, and I also read some health magazines, which were the only thing that we were allowed to read. The three of us sat in the same corridor - David in cell 1, I in cell 3 and Henrik in cell 5 - so sometimes I could catch a glimpse of either Henrik or David when they visited the toilet. One thing that I remember especially is on the second day. Now I didn't feel very well, but then I sat on my bed and I saw when Henrik passed my cell. The thing was that he held his fist clenched and that made me feel a lot better for some days. After this we also held the spirit up by knocking the melody "Fur is torture, fur is dead - free the animals ALF" on our beds and sometimes we even started to sing.
NC: Is there anything you would have done differently to prevent getting caught?
Kristofer: The main reason why we were caught on the farm in Skyberga, was because the farmer there had checked on his farm twice a night for almost a year, so I don't think we could have done anything about that. Although we made some mistakes and of course I want to share what one could learn from them:
Always use socks over your shoes. Later we found out that my footprints couldn't be found on any of the farms, but both Henrik's and David's were found on the two farms.
If you use socks over your shoes, always take them off before getting into the car again. Farmers sometimes spread lime on the farm to prevent sickness among the mink and this lime can get on your socks, clothes, etc. and get analyzed by the police experts. There may not be much to do about the clothes, but if you don't remove the socks, the lime can get stuck on the car carpet and then it can get analyzed by the police.
Always bring sandpaper to use on all tools after using them or when you are in your car/in safety etc. This way the police won't be able to match them to the cuts made in the fence.
Always park the car at least two miles from where the farm is. In this way you will still have a chance to get to the car if you are interrupted by the farmer, etc.
If you have maps in the car, always destroy them before leaving the car.
NC: What kind of support did you get in jail?
Henrik: people from all over Sweden came and had demonstrations outside the court and police station. I also got letters from Sweden, Finland, England and USA! Thank you...After the time in prison, I understand how important it is to support the brave men and women who are willing to risk their freedom for the animals, who have ended up in prison...
Kristofer: I can definitely say that the letters were what kept me alive in there. I also realized that the support for all prisoners is very important, so therefore I decided to start writing letters myself.
NC: You just had your trial - what happened?
Henrik: I came to the courthouse an hour before the trial began. The whole street was crowded with police cars, police dogs, police officers and a helicopter. People from Sweden, Finland and England were on the scene and demonstrated against the trial and the fur industry. One of the Englishmen said, "Why all these police...it's not an I.R.A. activist who is going on trial." When the trial began, the judge said "No propaganda; you are here because of the crime you committed, not to explain why you did it!"
Kristofer: The two farmers were also present, and they talked about how much money our actions had cost them and we also had a debate about the mink's capacity to survive in the wild. During the day we also did some interviews with media and they were pretty good.
NC: Will the sentence deter you from further activism?
Kristofer: I can say like this - that before I got caught, I always said that I supported all ALF actions, but that I wouldn't do them myself; and now, after I was arrested, I say exactly the same thing...
Henrik: No, absolutely NOT! The fight for animal liberation will continue! I will not compromise in the name of the animals. I will continue to speak for them and act for them. The war against the fur industry will continue until EVERY cage is empty...
NC: The anti-fur movement has been pretty strong in Sweden - would you say your arrest has helped to build the momentum?
Henrik: Yes I think so, when we where arrested people got upset, but they began to work harder for us and the animals. When people heard about this, they felt they must do something about this! After my arrest, there have been 2 fur farm raids in Sweden! One in the north and one in the south!
Kristofer: Yes, I think so. The issue has attracted attention, and since we have everything to win in a debate, the result is that we get more strength to our movement. I can give you an example from my hometown Boras; in the largest newspaper called Boras Tidning, there have been two big debates about animal rights and they have both been after ALF actions. The first one was after three meat trucks was burned down in April 1997, and the other one was after a fur farm raid in October last year. Those debates would never had come up if it wasn't for these actions.
NC: Have mink raids been a successful weapon against the fur trade in Sweden and why?
Henrik: Yes they have! The fur industry in Sweden gasps for air! All fur is exported to Asia, Denmark and China. The fur-industry has NO support in Sweden, the only way to make them stop "here" is through "direct action" and protests. The only way to make them stop is to hurt them in the pocket, so they lose money! Some fur farms have been closed down by attacks from anti-fur groups like "The Wild Minks" and the "ALF."
Kristofer: Yes, they have been very successful. Of course I don't see anything wrong with spreading information outside fur shops, etc., but since more than 90% of the furs that come from Swedish fur farms go for export, we must also attack this part of the industry. On some occasions there have been raids where every single animal on the farm has been liberated, and it's pretty obvious that if there aren't any animals left on the farm, the farmer can't go on with his/her work. The amount of fur farms in Sweden has decreased remarkably in the last years, and I think that if the raids continue as they have done, they will be the end for the Swedish fur industry.
NC: What do you say to those who oppose mink raids?
Kristofer: These people obviously haven't studied what consequences the raids have and therefore, I would either tell them about it myself, or I would tell them to study it, and I have also written an article about it. The biggest problem that these people make is that they never ask themselves what the alternative would be. If you do like them and remain passive, then 100% of the imprisoned mink (and other animals) will die - but now at least some of them will have the chance to live a life in freedom.
It's proven that liberated mink can survive in the wild here in Sweden and we also have more than one million mink that live free, and all of these are descended from the farms. Some people also oppose mink raids because they say that the mink cause "ecological imbalance" but, although there have been investigations, there has never been any proof of this so, of course, it's a lie that the farmers say to make us look bad. So at the end of it, I only see fur farm raids as a good thing and I hope they will continue.
Henrik: If we let the mink stay at the farm, they all will die. The only way to give them freedom is to liberate them. Don't listen to the myths the fur-industry tells you!
NC: Finally, whatever verdict/sentence you get, will it have been worth it for you?
Kristofer: I would never have been out there in the first place if I wasn't aware of what could happen to me, so I know that I will keep fighting till the fur industry is dead and all animals are free.
Henrik: Not for me, but for the mink and fox who are living on the fur farms. If we don't do anything, they will die. Their lives are in our hands. The only way to give them freedom and a natural life is to release them to the wild. The fur industry gasps for air and we will do everything we can to finish them off. The fight will continue until the last cage is empty...Open the cages!
If you wish to contact Kristofer or Henrik, you can write to them care of:
Eliminera Palsindustrin (EPi)