Monday, 18 June 2012

Turkey: Activists Mark Mass Starvation of 80,000 Stray Dogs

I know the label "genocide" (defined as the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group) technically does not apply to animals. But, as a vegan I see this as nothing less than that.

Prophet Muhammad (and Mahmud II who tried to do the same thing in the late 19th century), would surely be displeased that people think there's anything wrong with starving these poor animals to death.

From Today's Zaman:

A group of animal activists on Sunday gathered at a ferry terminal and took a boat to Sivriada, an island off İstanbul in the Marmara Sea, where 80,000 stray dogs were left to starve to death by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) 102 years ago in arguably what was one of the most-organized and large-scale animal-cruelty cases in world history.
Authorities, who wanted to modernize the city and give it a more Western appearance, collected stray dogs, a staple of İstanbul, and sent them to die on Sivriada in 1910. Many travelers have written extensively about İstanbul's stray animals and the compassion with which they are cared for by the city's residents in their memoirs.
The activists, members of the newly founded Animal Party, also put up a stone monument which reads “In memory of the tens of thousands of dogs that were left to die on this island in 1910.” The participants laid flowers in front of the monument.
Some of the dogs died of hunger, while others were killed fighting each other in a starving stupor. Still others perished under the burning sun on the island, where there is not so much as a single tree, or drowned in the sea trying to drink its briny waters.
Mahmut II had tried to do the same thing in the late 19th century, but had to bring the dogs back in face of opposition from İstanbul residents. The authorities this time did not listen to any complaints. Foreigners who were in the city on the day write that uprisings nearly started in the city to keep the dogs, but the authorities were deaf to the opposition.
The pained cries of the dogs could be heard from the city at night, historical records recount.
Neslihan Demir, a spokesperson for the Animal Party, said: “We are here 102 years later to make people remember, and to feel our shame. We are hearing those voices, and we are here to set our human pride aside and apologize to all dogs for the 1910 dog massacre.” She noted that the same mentality was still at work in İstanbul, with some municipalities still abandoning hundreds of stray dogs in forests and other far-off places, where they will not be able to find food.
She said the Animal Party wants the constitution to include an article about the protection of Turkey's stray dogs.

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