On 7th October 2023, about ten thousand animal rights activists took to the streets of the Italian city of Milan to protest the killing by the authorities of all the pigs in the “Progetto Cuori Liberi” sanctuary in Sairano di Zinasco, Pavia, due to an outbreak of African Swine Fever. On 20th September, activists occupied the sanctuary trying to stop the killing, but the police in riot gear entered the sanctuary, triggering a scuffle with the activists present, some of whom were reported to have been injured.

The demonstration started in the early afternoon from Palazzo Lombardia and headed to San Babila, stopping the traffic on some major roads and squares, including via Melchiorre Gioia, via Pisani, and Piazza della Repubblica. The protesters chanted slogans such as “Free animals and not hams” or “You killed our children.”

Sara d’Angelo, the coordinator of the network of free animal sanctuaries, said to Corriere Dellasera, “The goal of the demonstration is to ensure that what happened in Sairano to the pigs and protesters never happens again.  On 20th  September in Pavia, civil rights were trampled; we were struck by unprecedented violence in the face of which we do not intend to back down one step. We want all animals kept in sanctuaries in Italy to obtain, both from a legal and implementation point of view, a privileged status that definitively, and without exception, would protect them from the economic dynamics that unfortunately regulate the life of animals raised for food purposes.” 

Giuliano Floris, of “Vita da cani”, said to Milano Today, “It was the Lombardy Region and Ats Lombardia, which follow the directives of the commissioner for the PSA, to decide to act in this way. Their behaviour, as well as violent, is also unscientific because they have eliminated any sick animal, depriving themselves of the opportunity to study how the virus evolves and advances. At Cuori Liberi some animals got sick and recovered as well as animals that were never sick. They also refused to do in vivo tests to check whether there was indeed swine fever or not. They came to show that anything can be done and we are here to show that this will never happen again.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.