The SPEAK campaign holds regular demonstrations against Oxford University, their business interests and the companies funding the university. Rarely a week passes without a demonstration being staged either in the UK or abroad. Below, we list just a few of the events that have been organised by SPEAK and its supporters in recent months.
SPEAK would like to thank all those that are out there keeping up the pressure on the university. Your support is invaluable and it is down to your determination and support that a year has passed without work having resumed on the partially built lab. Keep up the good work. On 29th January a national demo took place in the heart of Oxford. If Oxford University had hoped that 7 months of inactivity at the site of their proposed new animal lab would diminish the enthusiasm of animal rights campaigners opposing the project, the sight of 500 - 600 people marching through the centre of Oxford City must have come as a grave disappointment to them.
The success of the march sent out a clear message to both Oxford University, and any contractor or sub-contractors considering taking on the building work, that they will be opposed and that their ambition to make a quick profit out of the suffering of thousands of animals will be contested, brick by brick if necessary.
We'd like to thank the hundreds of people who turned up from around the country and in particular to extend a special thank you to those who travelled from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, especially to support the campaign.
The fight to stop Oxford University expanding its animal abuse capabilities took on an International perspective when on Saturday, January 29, 2005, in solidarity with UK activists who were marching in Oxford, activists with Win Animal Rights/W.A.R. gathered at the New York City offices of the Oxford University Press and the Oxford Alumni Association of New York. Banners with "No Oxford Animal Lab", "Vivisection: Science Gone Mad" and "No More Cages", were displayed and passers-by on the busy Madison Avenue stopped to chat with demonstrators who distributed SPEAK literature and educated the public about why construction should not be resumed on the new animal lab.
Later that evening, activists visited a Chinatown restaurant, where members of the Oxford Alumni Association of New York were meeting for dinner. Activists were able to educate ex students of the university as to what is going on in their old haunts and one member said he believed that the Oxford Alumni would be interested in what SPEAK had to say about the construction of the new animal lab. He was assured that activists would make it a point of attending future Alumni Association functions.
Continuing with the International theme, on Friday 8th April, activists from Ireland demonstrated against Atlantic Philanthropies, a key funder of Oxford University in Dublin.
Since the University needs every penny it can get at the moment, activists decided to try to persuade the company to withhold donations to the University on the grounds that their money was supporting vivisection, with or without their knowledge.
"We entered the building and spoke to staff, we explained the situation to them, they seemed to take it all in and be quite supportive. A massive, visual demo was set up outside, banners exposed Atlantic Philanthropies and hundreds of leaflets were given out. A megaphone and drums made sure no one could miss this demo! We left this company to think about what they give money to, so Atlantic Philanthropies, examine your consciences and stop supporting Oxford University!"
On 22nd June, SPEAK supporters gathered in Oxford as the University prepared to bestow honorary degrees on individuals from the world of academia, arts and politics. Within minutes of the activists' arrival, a woman holding her invitation card came to stand with the protesters and said "there are a lot of us on your side". It was a sentiment that was to be repeated throughout the demonstration and one that should be viewed as encouraging.
Activists maintained a strong presence throughout the day. While the procession of assembled dignitaries - many of them dressed in their gowns and finery - and those who were to receive their honorary degrees filed into the theatre, campaigners sang a chorus of "STOP THE OXFORD ANIMAL LAB" and as they waited for the dignitaries to leave at the end of the ceremony, a steady stream of people came up to take leaflets and wish them luck with the campaign.
As the dignitaries filed out, and activists continued to inform people about the campaign and about Oxford University's less savoury side, a man dressed in full university regalia approached a campaigner who was using a megaphone. Fearing a public order situation the police moved in only to see the distinguished man shake the activist's hand and tell him "there are a lot of us on your side".
It was clear from early on in the demo that the campaign against the Oxford animal lab has had a very serious effect on the power base of the vivisectors within the university. The fight to stop the Oxford animal lab is clearly not yet over but this day proved conclusively that far from united, Oxford University's vivisecting elite do not have the unanimous support of the University's academics for their project.
Just a few hundred yards from where this ceremony took place stands a partially built animal lab - a lab, that has become central in the fight to bring an end to animal suffering and to create a sustainable future for scientific research that benefits people, rather than one that lines the pockets of a few wealthy individuals. We still have a lot to do in order to end the stranglehold of the animal abusers within the university but the cracks are beginning to appear. It is only a matter of time before the edifice to vivisection - the partially built lab - as well as the expansionist plans of the abusers come crashing down around them.