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Sunday, December 6, 1998 Published at 03:09 GMT


UK

Hunger striker ready to die for animals

Hunger striker Barry Horne: Said to be on the verge of coma

Jailed animal rights extremist Barry Horne says he is starving himself to death for the sake of "every animal in every torture lab".

Horne, who began the hunger strike on 6 October after accusing the government of breaking an election pledge to curb animal experiments, has told The Observer newspaper: "I want to die. This is the end. In death you win."

The 46-year-old former dustman, who is serving 18 years for a firebombing campaign, is close to death in York District Hospital after 60 days on hunger strike.


[ image: Horne wants a complete ban on animal experiments]
Horne wants a complete ban on animal experiments
Horne, who has been transferred to hospital from Full Sutton Prison, told the paper: "I am fading, sinking, going down."

He said: "It is not a question of dying. It's a question of fighting. If I die, so be it. We have tried to negotiate with the government. They have condemned me to death.

'Why do we put up with broken promises?'

"Politicians promise but why do we put up with them not keeping their commitments? Why do people laugh at politicians being liars all the time? We should be angry instead."

Police expect an escalation of animal rights protests if Horne dies.

One group, the Animal Rights Militia, has promised to kill 10 scientists if the government does not give way on animal experiments.


Dr Mark Matfield: Horne's sole objective is to abolish all animal experimentation and medical research
One of those targeted in the past is Dr Mark Matfield, executive director of the Research Defence Group.

He says there is still a case for animal testing in medical research.

'Animal testing must continue'

Dr Matfield said: "If we didn't do the animal testing we would kill an awful lot of patients with untested drugs."

Asked if he condoned violence, Horne said: "People must do what they feel is right in response to my death. Look at the evil of the Nazis and the level of violence needed - quite rightly - to stop them."

He said: "Words are cheap. Only actions really count. This is not for me, it is for every animal in every torture lab.

"We are creating a turning point - a moment in history that will be remembered. Never doubt this. We will see an end to this evil."


[ image: Rabbits, rats, cats, dogs and monkeys are all used for experiments]
Rabbits, rats, cats, dogs and monkeys are all used for experiments
A York District Hospital spokesman said on Saturday that Horne was "stable but continuing to give cause for concern".

Half-blind

The Animals Betrayed Coalition said Horne was now completely blind in one eye and had only partial vision in the other.

It said he was totally deaf in one ear and his liver was permanently damaged.

Horne has demanded that the government set up a royal commission to look into animal experiments.

The Home Office says it is "not prepared to allow policy to be dictated by blackmail".

Horne's supporters are staging a 36-hour vigil outside the hospital. He also receives up to 40 cards a day from wellwishers, and a Website, showing him giving a clenched fist salute, has been set up in his honour.

Slim chance of survival

Horne has issued instructions ruling out force-feeding should he lapse into a coma. Even if he resumes eating, doctors have put his chances of survival at less than 70%.

This is Horne's third hunger strike. His first strike - which lasted 35 days - began in January 1997, while the second - lasting 46 days - began in August last year.

In 1994 Horne, a member of the Animal Liberation Front, started a series of fires in shops on the Isle of Wight which caused £3m worth of damage.

He was arrested two years later by detectives who saw him plant bombs in shops in Bristol.

At his trial at Bristol Crown Court he was convicted of four counts of arson, five of attempted arson and one of possessing articles with intent to damage property.



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Barry Horne support site

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Understanding animal research in medicine

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments


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