ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Thousands hit the streets against a controversial law draft, which regulates protection of animals such as authorizing the removal of all stray animals from the streets
Animal activists march on İstiklal Street to protest a draft law on animal rights. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK
Thousands of animal rights activists gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square yesterday to protest a proposed amendment to the protection of animals law. “We do not want a murder law” was the main slogan chanted by the protesters.
The new draft, which is slated to be discussed in Parliament before the end of October, authorizes the removal of all stray animals from the streets, limits the number of pets permitted in homes, and recommends the termination of “dangerous” breeds. Activists fear the regulation will lead to the mass killing of cats and dogs, regardless of whether they are pets or strays.
Asude Ustaoğlu, head of HAYV!ST (the Animal Rights Activists Association) said the proposed amendment to Law no. 5199 carried the risk of mass killings and the malnourishment of stray animals and pets.
“The new law amendment introduces ‘natural life parks,’ presented in a charming way and telling us that stray animals will live happily there. But cats and dogs are tamed animals. They have been living in the same places as people for thousands of years. Locking pets in parks will turn into killing them. That’s why this law proposal is a murder law,” she told the Daily News.
Melek Gence, an activist who was wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan “No to Nazism against animals,” said she feared losing two of her four cats if the law was passed.
“The present law already tells me to move from my flat in case I disturb the neighbors. Isn’t that enough for the government, why do I have to give up my kids?” she said while holding her 10-month old Persian cat “the King,” in her arms.
The law draft also mandates that the breed and the number of pets in houses should be determined by Forestry Ministry regulations considering the ethological needs of their species, their health and the health and safety of people, other animals and the environment. This article causes significant doubts among animal lovers.
A common declaration was issued by the groups attending the protest, calling on the government to “correct the murder law” and introducing a new law guaranteeing animals’ right to life.
The government amendment also contains the term “guinea pig,” and activists particularly object to this article. “The article opens the way to violence against animals simply through an ‘experimental animal’ certificate,” their declaration said.
According to the draft law, stray animals will be relocated to “natural parks” after being spayed or neutered. Activists are concerned about this part of the regulation, and have started an open petition against it. They have the support of the Istanbul Bar Association’s animal rights committee.Main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Melda Onur also attended the protest. She said animal lovers had done their share and that now it was Ankara’s turn to withdraw the amendment. After marching down İstiklal Street, the crowd remained in Taksim Square for over two hours, singing songs, chanting slogans and dancing.
Meanwhile, more than a hundred writers including Elif Şafak, Latife Tekin and Leylâ Erbil supported the protests and signed a petition addressed to the Turkish president, prime minister and Parliament speaker.