Colt becomes latest classmate in animal rights course in Istanbul law faculty
Esra Ülkar – ISTANBUL
A two-month-old colt has become the latest addition to a class in an Istanbul law faculty. His task there is to help raise awareness on animal rights under the supervision of Ahmet Kemal Şenpolat, a lawyer, activist and starter of the elective “animal rights” course at Istanbul’s MEF University.
While the first guest of the course was a St. Bernard puppy from a shelter, Şenpolat said, the second guest became “Çitlembik” — a baby donkey.
“When you call someone a ‘donkey,’ it is taken as an offense. You can even win compensation in court for this. Yet when you call someone a ‘lion’ or a ‘tiger’ the person feels empowered,” said Şenpolat, who is also the head of the Animals Rights Federation (HAYTAP).
“The most hardworking animals, though, are these miserable donkeys. I brought Çitlembik to class so that you can see how adorable it is,” he added.
“According to the law, humans are expressed as owners, while animals are seen as property,” Şenpolat said, with Çitlembik heehawing in response.
“People who mistreat animals should be punished and arrested, just like in developed countries,” he added.
The course, a first in Turkey, aims to inform future lawyers about issues surrounding pet shops, zoos, dolphin parks, and circuses as well as the problem with experiments tested on animals, the history of animal rights and the punitive law.
“There still aren’t enough people to voice the pain animals are put through,” Şenpolat said.
“Agitating the situation in media or tweeting about it is not how you defend the rights of animals,” he added.
The faculty’s dean, Prof. Dr. Havva Karagöz, said she agrees.
“It will help break the premonition that violence against animals will remain unanswered when we have activists among our legal system,” Karagöz said.
On March 7, a Turkish lawyer applied to authorities to cancel a tender procedure that aims to sell 22 smuggled puppies from Bulgaria that were seized by authorities.
The lawyer, Sedat Vural, wrote his formal letter of complaint to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, to be handed to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in the northwestern province of Edirne. Selling animals through tenders was “against the law, social conscious, human dignity and ethical values,” his letter said, online news outlet Duvar reported.